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Harding-Jones Paper Co. Historic District

Harding-Jones Paper Co. Historic District. along South Main Street (Old Ohio 4) in Excello, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO) of the Ohio Historical Society says "the Harding-Jones Paper Co. District is significant as an early example of an Ohio industry. The mill, despite the numerous additions, retains much of its original charm. The homes have been continually owned by the Harding-Jones families and the 1874 house has been well taken care of. The lock, the first to be completed in the Miami-Erie Canal, is in excellent repair and attests to the importance of the canals to Ohio's commerce. Together the elements of the district are fine examples of Ohio's industrial and architectural history." A. E. Harding, founder of the Harding Paper Co., was born in England in 1829 to a family of papermakers and had gained journeyman status before moving to the United States in 1850. He worked three years in Massachusetts paper mills before coming to Middletown in 1853 as foreman for Middletown's first paper mill.

In 1865 Harding and associates founded the Harding, Erwin & Co. and built the Excello Mill. It was near the first lock built on the Miami-Erie Canal. OHPO says "the area where the mill was located became known as Excello, named after a brand of the paper produced there. It was the first mill west of the Allegheny Mountains to make fine writing paper." The water-powered mill produced 2,500 pounds of paper daily in 1965. It sent paper to market via the canal. The OHPO says "with the advent of industrial steam power, a Corliss steam engine was installed. Soon after, an Edison generator, the fifth one Edison built and now in the Henry Ford Museum, was installed. In 1897 a rolling machine, which took the paper from pulp to finished product was added."

The OHPO says "in 1872 a second mill in Franklin was built; the partnership was dissolved and the Harding Paper Co. was founded. In April, 1885 A. E. Harding died and both mills were sold in 1898 to the American Writing Paper Co. of Massachusetts. The mills were managed by Thomas Jones, a son-in-law of A. E. Harding. In 1925 Jones purchased the mills and sold the Franklin mill. The Excello mill was reorganized into the Harding-Jones Paper Co." and became "one of the foremost manufacturers of custom water marked fine writing paper." The Excello mill was acquired by the Simpson Paper Co. in 1983 and was closed April 30, 1990. (Also see Excello, Excello Lock and Morrell's Station.)

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