Left: The empty shell of the former Haughton Elevator Company on Spencer Street in Toledo
(Toledo, OH) It was with a tinge of sadness that I stopped by the old Haughton Elevator Company headquarters on Spencer Avenue today. The building has been empty since 1989, when Swiss elevator maker Schindler Group AG - which bought Haughton in 1979 - moved the remaining operations out to the suburbs.
The final demolition of Haughton Elevator will bring to an end another chapter in the industrial history of Toledo, a city that once boasted a thriving tax base but which now has trouble attracting businesses even with generous tax abatements.
They do not call the Upper Midwest the "Rust Belt" without good reason, and the demolition of Haughton Elevator merely adds an exclamation mark to Toledo's experience as a center of industrial devolution.
Left: Spencer Street entrance to the former Haughton Elevator facility
Founded in 1865 by Civil War officer Nathaniel Haughton, the Haughton & Kniesser company was a foundry and machine business. The firm changed its name to the Haughton Elevator & Machine Company, and in 1888 began producing elevators.
The current site had been home to Haughton Elevator since 1901, and the company was once the third-largest elevator manufacturer in the country.
For neighbors of the shuttered manufacturing facility, I suppose the demolition of Haughton Elevator represents the elimination of a prominent hunk of urban blight, but to watch a former industrial anchor fall to the wrecking ball is indeed a depressing sight in Toledo.
Perhaps the city will get lucky and entice a check-cashing firm and a big-box drugstore to the site, as those seem to be the most successful enterprises these days in the middle of the American industrial wasteland.