A closer look at the history of the Youngstown Business Incubator building
The year is 1952. Bakeries, printing companies, jewelers, outfitters, performing arts centers, and other establishments line the sidewalks filled with people moving hastily, occasionally stopping to peer in large glass windows. Downtown Youngstown is its own entertainment district, a myriad of sights, sounds, and smells unique to the lively Midwest city and those within it. The Mahoning Valley is one of the greatest steel centers of the world, and Youngstown is fully alive with economic activity and ambition in the industrial empire.
Now one of five Youngstown Business Incubator buildings, 241 West Federal Street was once home to Reichart Furniture Company. Organized by David J. Levenson in Wheeling, West Virginia, the company’s Youngstown location was active throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s.
Levenson was so widely known and respected that he received the Cavalier national award for outstanding service to the entire furniture industry in 1936 and was considered an “old guard” in furniture sales. Today, a ghost sign of the company can still be found painted on the east and west sides of the building.
West of Reichart Furniture Store was Haber’s Furniture Store, priding itself with American craftsmanship among all of its retail items. The store boasted a bright flashing sign that competed for customers with its rival down the street, urging passersby to “tell your neighbors it came from Haber’s.”
On the opposite side of the building was Hollander’s Grill, noted to have a “cozy, intimate atmosphere.” The restaurant spanned over four floors of the building, and meals were prepared in the basement for customers in wooden booths enjoying hand-dipped chocolates, cubed-steak sandwiches, and some of the finest burgers in town (Welsh & Morgan, Mahoning Valley Historical Society).
Sixty-five years later, 241 West Federal Street is home to a globally recognized, university-affiliated business incubator focused on building companies in technology, software development, and additive manufacturing. As downtown Youngstown continues to grow and redefine what comprises it, the iron roots – and furniture stores – of the past remain an inherent part of future progress.
Sources: The Mahoning Valley Historical Society, Youngstown, Ohio; “Classic Restaurants of Youngstown,” Welsh & Morgan, Mahoning Valley Historical Society; Estate of Levenson vs. Commissioner, United States Tax Court, 1959.
About the Author
Madeline Grimes is a Monus Entrepreneurship Fellow at the Youngstown Business Incubator and Junior student at Youngstown State University, where she studies Arts Administration and Marketing Management with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership.