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In 1902 the village of West Pittsburg was laid out as an industrial center, and among the companies that soon set up shop there was the Woodhouse, Bopp & Company of New York City. The company, a silk manufacturing firm, opened a small facility in early 1904 to gauge whether silk could successfully be produced locally. In mid-1905 the company began work on erecting a large brick silk mill (shown above) along Industrial Street. The company employed mostly woman and children in the delicate work of producing silk cloth. The company enjoyed a brief period of prosperity as the United States led the world in silk production in the early 1900’s. But the domestic industry slowed beginning in the 1920’s and Japanese silk makers came into prominence. The silk mill in West Pittsburg – as was the national trend – closed in c1930. By World War II the use of silk was widely replaced by synthetic materials such as nylon. (c1915) Full Size
In 1937 the Pittsburgh-based Keystone Furniture Company, which already had a popular retail store in New Castle, opened a home furniture manufacturing facility in the old Silk Mill building (shown above). Just when his plant closed is unknown. In late 1969 the Panella Company, relocating from South Jefferson Street in New Castle, moved its operations here. The Panella Company, which sold an odd collection of used hardware and industrial supplies, was founded by West Pittsburg native John A. Panella (1907-1994) in about 1934. Panella would acquire defunct bridges, steel mills, or buildings, sell everything that was removable, and then dismantle and sell off all the building materials. One of his earliest endeavors was to dismantle the old Shenango Valley Hospital in 1934-1935. The Panella Company was eventually closed in August 2001. OSG Doors, a manufacturer of heavy-duty doors for hotels, offices, and other businesses, consolidated its operations and occupied the building beginning in late 2008. (Aug 2013) Full Size
Pat Pannelle #
John was my Dad’s first cousin. He was a kind and caring man and well educated. He loved reading. We lived in Sharon and I remember as a young boy that we would visit the Panella’s almost every weekend in New Castle. All the old ones are gone now but the memories are still here in my mind and in my heart. I also remember visiting my relatives, the Rotunnos and Panellas in Mahoningtown. The towns and times have changed over the years and I am glad that I grew up in what I call the glory days and got to see Mercer and Lawrence County as a shining gem.