Cleveland Worsted Mills

The Cleveland Worsted Mills owned and operated 11 mills in Ohio and on the East Coast. It was Cleveland's largest textile mill at the turn of the 20th century.  It closed in 1972 after 70 years of operation.  Two of its plants were in Ravenna, Ohio.  The Cleveland Worsted Mills was established in 1902 by Oliver M. Stafford and George Hodgson. It grew out of the former Turner Mill operated by Joseph Turner on the same site since 1878.  The Cleveland plant was the most complete operation and did everything from scouring and sorting wool to boiling cloth.  Dyeing and finishing was done at the Ravenna plants using chemical-free water from Lakes Hodgson (still exists) and Stafford (now Sandy Lake) in Portage County.  The company hired Poles, Czechs, and Lithuanians because of their reputation for hard work and shunned the Italians and Irish.  It produced luxury serge and gabardine fabric.  During World War II the company refused government orders and stockpiled for the more lucrative civilian market.  The government padlocked its warehouses until the company agreed to run 4 looms of uniform cloth for every 1 of civilian fabric.  After a bitter strike in 1956, the company liquidated rather than unionize.  It briefly reopened in 1956 to complete orders in progress.  A spectacular fire on the Fourth of July 1993 destroyed all the buildings save the steam plant, which has also been recently demolished.  All that remains is the smokestack.