The Hometown History column is presented by the Fenton History Center and The Post-Journal. Each Friday, a distinct item from the Fenton History Center collections or archival special collections will be featured. Learn about your hometown history through parts of its past.
If one of the items featured brings back some memories or brings up a question, please contact the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org to share your memory or get an answer to your question.
By Karen Livsey
The expansion in 1924 of the Dahlstrom Metal Door Co. complex at Buffalo Street and Blackstone Avenue. The piers can be seen in this image. The original building was built in the early 1900s.
The streetscape of the east side of Buffalo Street from Blackstone Avenue towards East Second Street has been transformed with the demolition of the original building and its subsequent additions of the Dahlstrom Metallic Door Company. It was the product of these buildings that enabled the skyline of many cities to be transformed.
On Dec. 15, 1903, the U.S. Patent Office issued a patent to Charles P. Dahlstrom of Jamestown. It was a patent for a metallic door. One object of the invention was "to so construct my improved door that the large dies heretofore used in shaping the metal sheets for this purpose are dispensed with and the sheets rolled into the proper shape with less power and greater facility, and consequently with less time and expense."
In addition to this, the hollow door could be filled with a fireproof material and/or a soundproofing material. The rolled metal door could be made to look like a wood door. Prior to this most doors were made of wood which only added fuel for a fire should one occur in a building. "Skyscrapers" of that era were reaching toward 10 stories or more but could become fire traps should a fire start. The combination of metal, at less cost, and fireproofing, also made the door attractive to architects and builders. Because the metal could be made to look like wood, building owners accepted the new doors. With the idea of fireproof doors at less cost, architects saw an opportunity to build higher and thus Dahlstrom's door helped make it possible to transform many city skylines.
Charles P. Dahlstrom had worked for Art Metal Construction Company for a few years and had met many of the Jamestown businessmen. Associating himself with Fabian Sellstrom, Elof Rosencrantz, John A. Westman, Charles Swanson, Charles Lindbeck and Carl A. Lundquist, Dahlstrom started the Dahlstrom Metallic Door Company to manufacture these doors. Marketing proved successful and architects and builders happily incorporated metal fireproof doors into their building plans.
Shortly after the beginning of the company in 1904, which did start at 316 Cherry St. in the Gokey Shoe Factory building, a larger space was needed and the building at the corner of Buffalo Street and Blackstone Avenue was built. Metal elevator doors and shafts, metal stairwells, and metal partitions were soon added to the product line and buildings with fireproof components soared to new heights. Within 20 years an expansion was needed, and the new addition extended along Buffalo Street, even being built over the Chadakoin River. The photograph above shows the piers that were built in the river to hold the new building. For over 75 years, those piers held the building out of the river but today the load has been removed, and Jamestown residents can once again see the Chadakoin River.
Carl Peter Dahlstrom was born in Bunge, Gotland, Sweden on Sept. 4, 1872. He left Sweden in 1891 and came to America. After working in other cities, Carl, who became Charles in America, settled in Jamestown. He married and had two children. Only five years after the incorporation of Dahlstrom Metallic Door Company, Charles P. Dahlstrom died. The success of his invention and the additional products insured the success of the company and contributed to the industrial legacy of Jamestown.
The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County's history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.
Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.
If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.