SageRock (15 Broad St.)
From the blog Vicarious Rocky:
“It was in clay that Akron found its first important export product.” So says H. Karl Butler in the Clay Products chapter of A Centennial History of Akron 1825-1925. SageRock’s new home at 15 Broad Street was built to accommodate this booming industry in a booming town.
In the mid 1800s, Middlebury, Ohio, eventually annexed to Akron, was the center of the clay products industry thanks to clay beds and two companies — Hill, Merrill and Co., and Whitmore, Robinson & Co. These big players and many other smaller companies specialized in kitchen ware, but as Ohio cities sprung up, so did the need for city-wide sanitation. This demand inspired those involved in these larger companies (investors, owners, family) to start new companies that specialized in making clay sewer pipe.
In the 1890s, The Akron Sewer Pipe Company of Akron, Ohio, was the largest provider of glazed vitrified clay pipe for the United States. This company built our building at 15 Broad Street in 1913. It was most likely a small pattern shop. In fact, the whole 900 block area of E Exchange consisted of small “brick shops” that created products from clay.
Most were bought up by larger firms like The Akron Sewer Pipe Company, which later changed its name to the American Vitrified Products company. American Vitrified Products ran a shop in our building until moving operations in 1936, most likely to its Michigan plant in Grand Ledge MI (which closed in 1966).
The 15 Broad building was vacant for two years starting in 1936, until in 1938; a three-some of investors started an oddly-named hospital in the building. “Just-A-Mere-Home & Hospital” was only in business for 5 years before being bought by a group of doctors. Here’s the quote from the Summa Health Systems “About Us” webpage:
“Summa Western Reserve Hospital traces its roots to 1943, when a small group of osteopathic physicians and surgeons in Akron purchased and renovated a building at 15 Broad Street that had formerly housed the East Akron Community Hospital.”
Well, “East Akron Community Hospital” seems to be what the locals renamed the wacky-sounding Just-A-Mere-Home & Hospital. This general sounding nickname has also led to some confusion in Middlebury as some believe the building was part of the original Akron General, formerly named “People’s Hospital.” It does look a bit like the nursing school (built in 1914) that was attached to People’s Hospital.
But the new Hospital that opened in the place of Just-A-Mere-Home & Hospital was called Green Cross Hospital. The Green Cross docs moved out of Akron to break ground on a new building in Cuyahoga Falls in 1953 and 15 Broad stood vacant from 1954-56. That’s when AdCraft Typography Inc. moved in and leased space to a binding company for a year before taking over the whole building. They did some work for the Akron Beacon Journal along with others in need of typesetting and left our building in 1974. I found some evidence online that they sold themselves to a large marketing company.
The building was vacant then again for its longest period from 1974-1982 until a local insurance agency moved into the space — Carey Co. Insurance. As far as I can tell, they went out of business when they vacated the property in 1996. The place was vacant for about 3 years and then Jim Grant Jr. bought it. The rest is recent history.
It was then sold to Wendy Gardenhire who started the Louvre Salon where I used to get my hair cut in the first few years of the 21st century (like how I made that into history there). I always coveted the building’s gorgeous windows, woodwork, and high ceilings. Wendy couldn’t make a go of the salon and leased the building to a different salon that couldn’t make a go of it. Then she sold the building to a real estate broker from California who, thanks to the Recession, found himself stuck with a far away, vacant historical building.
It was a tough building to rent — full of salon stuff, zoned retail and commercial, at a great location technically (the coming together of Exchange and Market and Arlington) and yet in what is politely called a “transitioning” neighborhood. It proved even tougher to sell as there is nothing comparable nearby on which to base pricing of an 8000 sq. ft historic manufacturing plant and hospital. That’s where we come in.
Formerly housed in the historic Ice and Coal Warehouse (a barely renovated building from the same time period) SageRock Inc. had no problem visualizing its offices in the lofty open spaces at 15 Broad Street. And the rest is, well, history.