Ridgewood's designation as a Historic District would
spotlight the Union Metal Manufacturing Company's street lighting standards.
Wherever you travel in the United States or around the world, you will see their
products: street lighting poles, highway lighting poles, floodlighting poles,
architectural columns and even cargo booms and masts for ships.
Union Metal had its beginnings in 1906 when Christopher Columbus Barrick
purchased a handful of patents for steel porch columns and incorporated the
Union Metal Post Company to manufacture steel columns. The columns were hollow
with capitals and bases of wood. The break-through for the company came when
they secured bases and capitals of cast iron. The foundation was laid for a new
type of lighting standard which was to become the company's largest line and in
fact the largest line of its kind in the world.
The Barricks noticed that beauty was
lacking in the street standards of the day, and became pioneers in the design of
ornamental street lighting. Classic Doric, Ionic and Corinthian patterns were
available as well as a multitude of variations. The company changed its name to
Union Metal Manufacturing Company. Business boomed and Union Metal light
standards were shipped to cities across the country and around the world.
Ridgewood's street lighting standards were all
manufactured by Union Metal. Company officials tell us that there are
twenty-three different designs in use in Canton neighborhoods alone, including
Ridgewood. Ridgewood has quite a variety of styles, and the standards differ
from street to street, as you can see here.
A cooperative effort between the
residents of Ridgewood through Historic Ridgewood, with the City of Canton, and
the Ohio Power Company, will help to restore and preserve the lighting standards
in the neighborhood so that another important facet of Canton's industrial
history will survive.