The former Hoover Company’s International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1985, AFL-CIO, will donate its longtime headquarters at 113 South Main Street, North Canton, to Walsh University in an agreement that underscores community engagement and a shared vision to preserve The Hoover Company and IBEW Local 1985 legacy in North Canton.
Throughout its history, Local 1985 represented The Hoover Company’s workforce including electricians, maintenance workers, mechanics, assembly line workers and truck drivers. At its peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the union represented more than 3,000 members, at multiple locations throughout Stark County.
IBEW Local 1985’s charter began in 1957. Since the purchase of the building in the early 1970s, the South Main Street headquarters has remained a visible reminder of The Hoover Company’s impact and legacy in North Canton for more than 60 years. After TTI Floor Care announced in January 2016 its plans to close the last Hoover distribution center in Jackson Township, the North Canton based union began the process of disbanding operations.
The initiative to donate the building was spearheaded by the President and Business Manager of IBEW Local 1985 Nick J. Tomey and approved by Local 1985s Officers, Executive Board, and all of the remaining Union Members. With the assistance of International Representative Bill Dietz and the recommendation of Fourth District International Vice President Kenneth W. Cooper, International President Lonnie R. Stephenson gave his approval for the donation. The building will be primarily used for educational purposes, with a focus on extending Walsh University’s Museum Studies program by utilizing the main floor exhibit area for preservation and display of the IBEW Local 1985’s artifacts, and for rotating exhibits as determined by Walsh.
“The idea started when we first met with Megan Pellegrino at the Hoover Historical Center to discuss donating our union artifacts for display. We saw for ourselves their commitment and care in preserving all facets of The Hoover Company history and it just seemed like a natural fit that Walsh should be entrusted with our legacy as well,” said Tomey. “While we’re sad to be closing our office doors after more than 60 years, we can be proud that we were able to donate this building to Walsh to not only preserve our legacy but create an educational opportunity that will ultimately benefit the entire community.”
Walsh University owns and operates the Hoover Historical Center, the Victorian boyhood home of Hoover Company founder, William H. “Boss” Hoover. Donated to Walsh in 2004, the Hoover Historical Center preserves, promotes, and educates the public on the life of the Hoover family and history of The Hoover Company and its rich North Canton heritage. Through the University’s Museum Studies major, the only undergraduate program of its kind in Ohio, Walsh students are able to combine classroom instruction with hands-on practicum experience at the Center.
“Through the donation of the union building and some of their key historic artifacts, we will be able to share a more complete picture of The Hoover Company with visitors and researchers,” said Walsh Hoover Historical Center Curator and Museum Studies Coordinator Megan L. Pellegrino. “The additional exhibition space in the building will also allow for temporary exhibitions covering all facets of Company and Hoover family history. Our Museum Studies students will play an integral role in the design and installation of such exhibitions, which will provide them with valuable skills as they enter the workforce after graduation.”
Some of the IBEW artifacts include Local Union 1985’s charter, seal, banner/flag and other miscellaneous memorabilia. In addition, Walsh University will install a plaque on the exterior of the building acknowledging the donation along with other signage.
The two-story, 4,060 square feet building includes a first floor exhibit area, meeting room, kitchenette, second floor reception area, two offices, and a basement board room. In addition to the preservation of the union’s heritage, Walsh University’s future plans for the building will focus on community engagement. A dedication ceremony will be held at a future date following the necessary changes to the building, and the completion of the main floor exhibit area.
“We want this building to become another hub in which Walsh University can interact with the community,” said Walsh Vice President for Academic Affairs Douglas Palmer, Ph.D. “The location is situated perfectly downtown between our civic leadership in City Hall on one side and private leadership in the Chamber of Commerce next door. Our goal is to be the bridge where public and private interests will come together to continue to develop the economy of Stark County. By commemorating the contributions of the Hoover workers, we will be creating a lasting reminder to always move forward in a way that engages the entire community. This is only one example of how Local 1985 will continue to be a presence in our community.”