A Hercules Apartments commons area, in a former YORK Ice Machinery Corporation building in Canton, Ohio, features the century-old factory smokestack. YORK Ice Machinery’s Canton Plant was their only major manufacturing site outside for York from 1927 until 1939. The Hercules Engine Plant went out of business there in 1999, resulting in the repurposed use naming. (Photo by Joe Albert, from Sandvick Architects web site)
YORK Ice Machinery building repurposed as Hercules Apartments
Robert Fraser submitted photos of a 1937 Batch Ice Cream Freezer, which was manufactured by YORK Ice Machinery Corporation, at their plant in Canton, Ohio. The freezer is still used at Erikson’s Ice Cream Stand in Maynard, Massachusetts; because it makes better ice cream, compared to that made in modern freezers. Robert’s submission was the tipping point in writing about the Canton Plant; which became YORK’s third major manufacturing facility in 1927.
Recently the main building in the Canton Plant was repurposed as the Hercules Apartments. One of the commons areas, for the 95-apartments, features the century-old factory smokestack. The Hercules Engine Plant went out of business there in 1999, resulting in the repurposed use naming. There is another York connection with this project; Graham Architectural Products, 1551 Mount Rose Ave., York, PA, provided a total of 396 historic windows for the restoration. For that story see this link.
In 1981 I added the first item in my collection of historical stuff related to York International Corporation and prior companies; and wrote about that acquisition in the post: Steve Jobs & Apple Computer connections to YORK. My various YORK talks have included many of the amazing photos appearing in a 1993 acquisition: COLD MAGIC, an 85-page glossy book published in 1932 by YORK Ice Machinery Corporation. The final pages in COLD MAGIC include aerial photos and utilization layouts for the three major manufacturing facilities of the company: the West York Plant, along Roosevelt Avenue in York, PA, the Grantley Plant, along Grantley Road in York, PA, and the Canton Plant, along Market Avenue in Canton, Ohio.
The 1932 utilization layout for the Canton Plant indicates it borders the southern side of the Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line, which crosses Market Avenue South in Canton, Ohio. A screen grab, from a 2017 YouTube drone video of the apartment construction beginning, at Hercules Engine Plant in Canton, Ohio, provides a good comparison to the 1932 aerial view of the Canton Plant of YORK Ice Machinery Corporation, per COLD MAGIC:
The utilization layout indicates Freezer Assembly takes place on the first floor of that part of the building closest to Market Avenue. An easement is noted on the access road between the Hercules Motor Corporation and York Ice Machinery Corporation properties:
I rarely heard about YORK’s Canton Plant until the 1990s; first in COLD MAGIC; then by a little research in YORK’s Engineering Library, followed by conversations with some fellow employees. Even though none of the employees had first-hand knowledge about the Canton Plant, several had retired relatives who knew the story of how the onset of WWII was responsible for YORK vacating the Canton Plant at the dawn of the 1940s; owing to the neighboring Hercules Motor Corporation urgently needing expanded production space to supply rapidly growing engine contracts as war preparation.
The Engineering Library had a good bit of information about the Arctic Ice Machine Company in Canton, Ohio; because in 1927, York Ice Machinery Corporation purchased all assets of Arctic Ice for $3,500,000; obtaining the key patents and the factory in Canton, Ohio.
The Arctic Ice Machine Company was organized in 1905. The Arctic Ice Machine factory in Canton, was located in the northwest building on part of the C. Aultman & Company Works. This agricultural implements manufacturer, established in Canton during 1865, was known for their Buckeye Mower & Reaper, and their Sweepstakes Thresher.
Henry D. Pownall, president and general manager of the Arctic Ice Machine Company, had developed a method to produce ice that was superior in appearance and quality. Thomas Shipley decided YORK had better purchase that technology, to keep a step ahead of the competition. The fully equipped factory in Canton also fit the bill as an instant manufacturing space for YORK’s fast growing dairy equipment business.
In the 1990s conversations with fellow employees, I was told the Canton Plant almost exclusively produced dairy equipment. This past week I discovered a 1934 YORK Ice Machinery ad within the 22nd Annual Report of the International Association of Dairy and Milk Inspectors; from which I wholly understand the amazing full range of the YORK dairy equipment offering. Quoting the whole ad:
“YORK High-Temperature Short-Time Pasteurization approved by your state Board of Health. Pasteurizes in a continuous flow instead of in holding tanks. Heats, holds, regenerates and cools in a closed cycle. Every particle of milk and cream is heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and held for 15 seconds or more. Assures quality . . . provides economy of regeneration . . . saves costly equipment and valuable space . . . makes cleaning quick and easy . . . assures perfect sanitation.”
“Other York equipment for the dairy and ice cream plant includes: Internal tube and Surface Coolers . . . Chrome Nickel Alloy Vat Pasteurizers, Storage and Truck Tanks . . . Plate Heat Exchanger . . . Farm Milk Coolers . . . Complete refrigerating systems with the York Patented Ammonia Liquid Recirculating and Gravity Feed Systems . . . Milk Filters and Pumps . . . Milk Bottle Crates . . . Bottle and Can Washers . . . Receiving Vats and Weigh Cans . . . Sanitary Pipe and Fittings . . . Homogenizers . . . Freezers.”
Some of the milk tanks produced at the Canton Plant were very large, such as noted in the following short article within The Evening Independent (Massillon, Ohio) of December 8, 1934: “Big Milk Tank. The York Ice Machinery Corp. of Canton has completed a 12,000-gallon tank manufactured from Enduro Stainless Steel for the Hershey Chocolate Co., Hershey, Pa.”
The timing of YORK vacating the Canton Plant was determined via a front page article in the December 30, 1939 issue of The Gazette and Daily (York, PA), with the headlines: “York Ice Co. Plant at Canton Will Be Moved To This City. Transfer Of Personnel And Equipment To Begin At Once. Unit Manufacturers Dairy Machinery.”
My questions concerning what happened to the Dairy product lines after they came back to the York plants, were answered with variations of the company motto during WWII: “If it won’t Help Win The War forget it!” I heard the dairy equipment production lines were quickly converted to war goods production. After the war, the dairy products were never put back into production; as the company increasingly focused on air conditioning products.
The following is one of the submitted photos of a 1937 Batch Ice Cream Freezer, which was manufactured by YORK Ice Machinery Corporation, at their plant in Canton, Ohio. Another post will examine this continuous ice cream freezer in greater detail. If any of my readers know of an ice cream shop that still uses such a freezer, please comment.
Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos and illustrations in this post.
Links to related posts:Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts