Our facility was built in 1928 and is located near downtown Kent, Ohio on the Cuyahoga River. It is divided up into six distinct divisions. The links under "The DAE Facility" to the left cover each division of our restoration facility: the final assembly, machine, metal fabricating and shaping, paint, upholstry and wood shops.
Aging industrial facilities aren’t usually high on the list of “must see” items for civic leaders, but the home of Dale Adams Enterprises is a completely restored factory building located on a main thoroughfare less than a block from Kent’s business center, and has become a real point of pride for residents and business people of the area.
Built in 1928 as a garment sewing factory by the L.N. Gross company of Cleveland, the plant was designed in the then popular Art Deco style, featuring a stylish front entrance and huge windows to provide an abundance of natural light for the 100 or more women who did the sewing. Counting all three floors, the building has over 24,500 square feet. It is believed the tower portion of the building located over the entryway was he site of the original offices.
Located at 315 Gougler Avenue, the building has seen quite a number of diverse uses over its life, including a war-time machine shop operated by Gougler Industries (for whome the street was re-named to honor their contribution to the war effort), a printing plant, an A&P supermarket, and as the manufacturing site for bowling balls, van conversion parts, and most recently, specialty valves for the aerospace industry. Each occupant had made changes to suit their own needs, and by the time the building was acquired by Dale and his wife Josie, a lot of the original design features had been covered up, removed or changed.
“Being in the classic automobile business”, says Dale, “we have a strong interest in preserving period design and style. Even though there had been lots of changes, Josie and I could see the beautiful Art Deco design that had been the original concept for the building. That’s the style that was prominent at the time many of the classic cars we restore were being built, and our goal was to return it to as close to the original as was practical, providing the right kind of home and room for our business to grow.”
Accomplishing the restoration turned out to be a project and a half. The entire structure had to be cleaned inside and out with a special foam blasting process used in the architectural restoration industry. Floors, which are a combination of concrete and hardwood, had to be replaced and/or refinished. All of the building’s mechanical systems, including heating, wiring, lighting, sprinklers and plumbing were upgraded to meet the new shop’s requirements and to comply with modern building codes. The huge steel casement windows that flood the interior with sunlight had been sealed and covered with foamed insulation as an energy conservation measure during an earlier energy crunch. Each one was removed, stripped, repainted with high-tech coatings, completely re-glazed with energy efficient thermopane glass, and reinstalled with elegant green canvas awnings.
The original offices had long since disappeared, so new ones were designed and built, in keeping with the period style of the building but incorporating all of the wiring and communication systems that are the life blood of modern businesses. Even the colors on the walls were researched for their appropriateness. Carefully furnished with Art Deco furniture and fixtures, the offices now look more like the lobby of a grand 1930s bank or hotel than the offices of a modern business. You might not know you were in an office until you heard the computer beep or the fax machine ring.
The Adams’ point with pride to the fact that much of the work that went into restoring the facility was done in their own shop by the same skilled employees who do the exquisite automobile restorations for which they are known. “All of the doors and millwork were created in our shop by Andy Bellina and Doug Peterson”, notes Dale. “Even the patterns for the elaborate cast bronze front doors were designed and created here. And though the panels were cast at a foundry in Cleveland, we did all the fabrication and assembly of the doors here.”
As a final touch, Josie Adams finished off the restoration with landscaping and flowers that have attracted local gardeners and photographers. “While we were restoring the building and moving in”, she says, “the city was widening and re-doing the street, a move that required removal of some beautiful old trees. Without the trees, surrounded by mud, raw earth and construction debris, the building looked a little lost and forlorn, so I could hardly wait for the opportunity to get the front finished the way we had dreamed it could be.”
(Adapted from a writing by Jim Armstrong)