From MVHS Executive Director Bill Lawson:
We’re now days away from Cass Warner’s arrival in the Mahoning Valley! After her presentation with Stephen Bogart at the Trumbull Town Hall lecture in Warren on Wednesday morning, September 25, she will be visiting Youngstown and New Castle, PA, prior to screening her documentary—The Brothers Warner—at the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center on Thursday evening, September 26, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for this program at $10.00 each, and for a meet & greet reception to be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Christman Gallery on the third floor of the Tyler History Center for $40.00 (which includes reserved seating at the presentation). Please call our office to reserve your place!
Recently, MVHS Archivist Pam Speis uncovered an obscure but astounding fact about the Warner Brothers that connects them directly to the site of the Tyler History Center. After their arrival in Youngstown in 1896, Benjamin and Pearl Warner’s family ran a variety of businesses and lived in several locations around Downtown and the North Side. Benjamin was a cobbler, and he trained is eldest son Harry (Cass Warner’s grandfather) in his trade. Father and sons also tried several other ventures, such as a meat market, bicycle repairs & sales, a bowling alley and a saloon, before and during their start in the motion picture business in 1903. In going over the old Youngstown City Directories, Pam found that brothers Harry and Albert Warner ran a bicycle shop at 327 West Federal Street between 1902 and 1904. At that time 327 West Federal was a 20-foot-wide lot with a small store building on it. By 1920 this building was razed and the lot was combined with adjacent 325 West Federal Street in the development of a new, three-story commercial building. This nearly new building at 325-327 West Federal Street was purchased by confectioner Harry Burt in September 1921, and extensively remodeled to fulfill his business plan. And you know the rest of the story!
So, now when we stand in the beautiful new entrance way and gift shop on the first floor of the Tyler History Center, we can imagine these young and ambitious Warner brothers repairing and selling bicycles in a small storefront at the exact same location, 110 years ago!
I hope to see you this Thursday evening at the Tyler History Center!
An excerpt from Hollywood Be Thy Name (now re-published as The Brothers Warner)
In late 1899, Harry and Abe went to a bicycle shop one day, intending to buy two bicycles. They cost $30 each, a tidy sum for the day, and double what the brothers had. Harry offered to pay cash for one and pay off the other in thirty days, but the owner refused to give credit. Harry, his mouth set in a firm line, told Abe he had just decided to get into the bicycle business. He opened a shop that sold bicycles “on time” then profited by the repair work. The bicycle craze was sweeping Youngstown and the business flourished. Abe worked in the shop renting bicycles for fifteen cents an hour. He also got interested in bicycle racing and entered local events.