Book A Cemetery Tour

In 1921, Burt expanded yet again and purchased the building at 325 West Federal Street in downtown Youngstown. Burt and his team began their plans to refurbish and renovate the building for their needs. Those needs included changes to the store front and reinforcement of the building’s foundation. The second floor of the building was to be used a ballroom with space for 100 couples. The plans also included private dining and banquet rooms. The local team of Heller Bros Co. won the $50,000 contract.

This new building was set to be one of the finest of its type in the country. The Youngstown Vindicator covered Burt’s expansion with great interest, including a full page spread the day before it opened to the public. Report C. J. Colmery wrote:

Certain places and certain shops in every town in the course of time become institutions. They become so much a part of the town, helping to tinge its traditions and history, that eventually the world comes to know the town by its institutions. Thus in Youngstown Burt’s place has always been a center around which the social activities of the city have swirled. “Meet me at Burt’s” is a phrase we have been hearing here for the past 23 years.

No longer will the young folks of Youngstown be deploring the fact that there is no place to go but home. Rather, they will say, “there is no other place to go but Burt’s.”

Burt's Announcement

Opening Announcement of Burt’s, Youngstown Vindicator
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When the world walked in on April 4, 1922, they escaped the bustling pace of Federal Street and entered into a fairyland of colors, smells, and tastes. The new Arbor Garden, taking the theme from the famous Arbor on North Phelps Street, was one of the first things a visitor would see. Vine covered pergolas flanked the broad steps as if one was walking up to an old manor house.

Burt's Entry

Entry sketch from Burt’s informational booklet, MVHS Archives
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Burt’s Arbor Garden Seating

Youngstown Vindicator photograph of Burt’s Arbor Garden restaurant seating
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Burt’s Arbor Garden

Burt’s Arbor Garden, postcard, MVHS Archives
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Soft lights through colored glass windows shine and glove over chummy refreshment booths, and out upon the old stone paving of the garden court: two chaste fountain figures stand surrounded by sculptured animal conceits and waters pulsate and bubble in murmurous plaint and fill the garden with a tinkling song. Further to heighten the atmosphere of outdoors there has been placed a multitude of warbling canaries in the crannies in the walls above the arbors, together with friendly growing plants that nod and wave to you.

Not only was the setting unique, the ordering process was so novel that it required explanation! Each of the 30 tables was equipped with a telephone, once the diners determined their desired items, they simply picked up the phone to speak with an order clerk. After taking their order and table number, she passed the information to the soda fountain or kitchen. No muss, no fuss, and no awkward incidents.

Items were then delivered by a team of delivery girls who worked with the same professionalism as highly trained bellhops. Burt’s desire for such a system came after observing those taking order falling into one of three categories – arriving at a table too soon, arriving too late, or arriving at such a late point that the guest has become impatient. The phones took all of that worry out of the equation and put the timing in the hands of the patron. Burt believed this was the first system of its kind in the country.

Walking towards the Arbor Garden, guests walked past the candy counter on the right and the soda fountain on the left. The baking department was also front and center. The location on Phelps street had limited baking capabilities but that was not an issue anymore. Burt noted:

In the past, owing to limited baking facilities, it was frequently impossible to keep properly stocked with our full line of baked goods. In planning the new establishment, we have emphasized this department. We can assure now a plentiful supply of all the customary items in Burt’s “Home Style” line of baked goods: cakes, pies, patty shells, French pastry, nut breads, Boston Brown breads, sandwich breads, and rolls.

Burt’s Candy Store

Image of Burt’s Candy Counter, MVHS Archives
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Burt’s Flower Department

Flower Department sketch from Burt’s informational booklet, MVHS Archives
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A brand new flower department was situated immediately to the left of the front doors. The department was stocked with freshly cut flowers for the “transient flower lover” but Burt also planned to cater to orders of any quantity for delivery. He also planned to use this department to decorate the various dining areas with fresh floral arrangements.

Walking towards the back of the main floor took guests past the arbor garden and towards the building’s grand staircase. Doors flanking the staircase took one into the Wistaria Tea Cottage. This quaint space served lunch every afternoon and was available to private parties of up to 60 people. The Wistaria Tea Cottage featured white columns wrapped in greenery alongside elegant tables.

Ascending the grand staircase took visitors to the Reception Room. The peacock motif was highlighted with daylight from the exterior windows. The space was reserved exclusively for private organizations. The acoustic properties of the room made it a perfect venue for events which featured speakers.

The building’s second floor was home to the Rainbow Assembly Room – 3,600 square feet to be used for musicales, lectures, concerts, dances, and other events. A raised platform at this end of the room provided orchestra and speaker accommodations. The Rainbow Assembly Room’s design would take your breath away. The room’s draperies were done in a rainbow motif, featuring the full gamut of colors.

Rainbow Assembly Room

Rainbow Assembly Room sketch from Burt’s informational booklet, MVHS Archives
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Nothing like this room has ever been attempted by an interior decorator in Youngstown. In fact, the entire Burt establishment, in its plan, conception, and consummation, is of so original and daring an innovation that nowhere else in the United States may there be found anything that even approaches it in its beauty and taste. There may be places that have cost more but there are no places with greater appeal or to which their creators have given more attention to the details of providing comfort and ease.

One of the things that visitors didn’t see were the machines and kitchens used to furnish the tables and case shelves. Burt’s genius made this possible but his shrewd marking mind did offer potential buyers a chance to see his factory in action. The building’s third floor must have seemed a hundred miles away from the wonderland downstairs. This was the factory floor where candies and chocolates were handmade and wrapped. Burt wanted to welcome the public to this aspect of his business, to him it was the most interesting element.

Walking through the third floor, guests could see the entire process from start to finish. Not only was the candy on display, but Burt’s highest standards of cleanliness and sanitary conditions were also front and center.

In the factory you may see these deluxe confections dipped by hand. The making of chocolate confections in this shop have become almost a guild art – each operator is carefully trained in the art of candy making and is held not only responsible for each box and package of sweets, but is also held personally responsible for each piece that leaves the shop. One may walk through glass-enclosed aisles and obverse every step in chocolate making without in any way disturbing the craftsmen.

This front room was used for packaging the chocolates and candies. This image shows workers diligently placing each individually wrapped piece into their sales boxes.

Packaging Candy

Image of workers packaging candy at Burt’s, MVHS Archives
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Ice Cream Hardening Room

Ice Cream Hardening Room sketch from Burt’s informational booklet, MVHS Archives
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The building’s fourth floor mezzanine was the best lighted and most perfectly ventilated room and it served as the main kitchen. All of the luncheons, banquet meals, and special dinners were prepared here. The lower level featured the ice cream operation including the Ice Cream Hardening Room, freezers, and other manufacturing spaces.

Front Page

Front page of special Youngstown Vindicator section marking the opening of Burt’s
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The community was so excited for this new site to open that it dominated the Vindicator’s coverage. Images and descriptions flooded its pages alongside countless well-wishes from area businesses welcoming Burt to West Federal Street. Even though the move was only a few city blocks, it felt like it was a world away. Businesses who worked with Burt used their advertising space to congratulate their colleague, like the Heller Bros, G. A Webster Electric Company (who installed the wiring and telephones), Thomas Cusak who made the roof’s electric sign, and even J. H. Flower who was a drilling contractor. Flower’s ad read “Burt’s will serve you pure ice cold water from their own well.”

Burt Ad

Burt Ad 2

Burt Ad 3

Advertisements in the Youngstown Vindicator’s special section marking Burt’s grand opening.
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Stay tuned for the final Time Capsule in this special Burt Centennial series to explore the legacy left behind as Harry Burt passed away but the Good Humor brand carried on and grew into a nationally known treat.