Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some Gel-Pak Building History

1968 Lorain Journal Ad
In early November the official groundbreaking event for the conversion of the former Gel-Pak Building at 1205 Broadway into the new home of Lorain County Health & Dentistry took place.

At the time, the online Morning Journal article had a sketchy history of the building. The article (here) said that it was built in the 1920's and "home to a garment company that sewed parachutes during World War II. Then the Gelman family bought it," according to the article.

I did a little research in the Lorain Public Library to find out more about this building. It turns out that quite a few companies called it home.

Here's what I found in the City Directories.

The building's 1205 Broadway address was not listed in the 1921-22 book, but the 1926 book showed that a Richman Brothers store was the tenant. (At that time, the Gelman Brothers fruit business was at 1218 Broadway, where it would remain until the mid-1960's.)

The Richman Brothers store continued at the 1205 Broadway location into the 1930's. Around 1937, a clothing manufacturer called the Goodall Company (apparently associated with Richman Brothers) was listed along with the Richman Brothers as tenants. But by 1940 the building was vacant.

A storage company – National Terminals Corporation – showed up at that address in the 1942 book and would continue to be listed until 1947, when the building went vacant again.

By 1950, another company – Sci-Eff-Ec Laboratories moved in. Their business was connected with chemical engineering and water conditioning. They shared the building with another new tenant: S. Weitz and Company, another clothing manufacturer.

By 1954, S. Weitz and Company was joined in the building by Lorain Screen Process (a sign and card writer).

From 1955 until 1958, S. Weitz shared the building with the Lorain County Board of Elections. (You can see their name painted on the north wall of the building in the photo at left.)

By 1959, S. Weitz was out and another company, Lorain Storage & Warehousing was a tenant along with the Lorain County Board of Elections. These two tenants would share the 1205 Broadway address until around 1963.

By 1964, the building picked up another tenant: Joseph & Feiss (another clothing manufacturer). The Lorain County Board of Elections and Lorain Storage & Warehousing remained. (The warehousing company did have a Gelman connection, as Alvin Gelman was listed as the manager.)

Around 1972, Joseph Feiss was no longer listed with the other two tenants. In 1974, the Board of Elections and the warehousing company were joined by Stillman-Deutsch, as well as the Banana Specialties Division of Gel-Pak.

The Board of Elections seemed to hang on there until around the mid-1970's, when the building became part of a block of buildings solely associated with Gel-Pak. 1143 Broadway, 1145 Broadway and 1205 Broadway were all part of the Gel-Pak empire.

Curiously, by 1987 Joseph & Feiss had apparently returned to share the building with Gel-Pak.

Around 1988, the Gel-Pak name disappeared from the City Directory, replaced by another Gelman family business: Lorain Foods, Inc.

Thus this old building has seen a lot of tenants over the last eighty-some years.


Lisa said...

And it didn't take the hoodlums any time at all before they tagged the recently delivered construction trailer with their graffiti so it matches the building.
I wish LCHD the best and am looking forward to seeing what they do with this building, but I still wish they would have bought the Broadway Building instead.

My word verification is modupoid - sounds like creepy critters who live in the building's basement!

-Alan D Hopewell said...

It's good to see something I recognize on Broadway that hasen't ben torn down.

Anonymous said...

Always amazing that a building like that with daily railroad service and easy truck access to OTC and Rt2 never had a tenant. ....even during the "good times"

Anonymous said...

do you have any information on manhattan market that was located on broadway between 10 th and 11th st.