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Jaite Mill Historic District
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Jaite Mill Historic District

Courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, photo by Roy Henkins

Located along the Cuyahoga River, the Jaite Mill Historic District is a significant example of an early 20th-century company town. A technological development—the electric overhead crane—changed manufacturing operations at this time. Industrial operations became horizontally oriented, rather than the traditional vertically oriented water or steam belt and drum systems, thus manufacturing operations required more land. Increasing numbers of unskilled immigrants arrived in cities looking for employment. Urban areas became increasingly densely built and populated. Housing for immigrants was often crowded and poorly built, resulting in public health problems.

In order for manufacturing to deal effectively with these conditions, factories needed to have enough land in an area with transportation access, near adequate housing for workers. Ideal locations for industrial expansion had plenty of land, were accessible by train and not too far from the services available in urban areas. The only thing that these remote locations did not have was adequate housing.

[photo] Railroad support buildings
Photo from National Register collection

The Jaite Paper Mill was built in 1905 adjacent to the Ohio and Erie Canal and a branch of the B&O Railroad. The following year, Charles Jaite built five two-family dwellings for his employees. Employees rented these for $7 a month, or approximately 23 percent of a worker’s monthly salary. In 1917, four additional houses were built. A company store and boarding house, worker showers, stable, freight depot, boarding platform and a water tower were also constructed. Many of the early immigrants were recent immigrants from Poland—adding a new facet to the English, Irish and German ethnic character of the Cuyahoga Valley.

Unlike many other company towns, Jaite did not evolve into a larger community and has not been subjected to redevelopment pressures. Three of the original two-family dwellings were destroyed by fire in 1967, as was the mill in 1992. Located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Jaite Company surviving buildings have been rehabilitated as administrative headquarters for the park.

The Jaite Mill Historic District is located at Riverview and Vaughan rds., south east of Brecksville. The buildings are not open to the public, but serve as facilities for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Jaite Paper Mill has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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