A BRIEF HISTORY
Meadville’s population had been steadily growing since 1810, swelling to 16,698 in 1930. This population growth, combined with expanding industrial production in Meadville, led to a severe low and middle income housing shortage. In 1934 the city’s vacancy rate was a mere .265%, and rental rates were double those of the nearby towns.
Hookless Fastener Company, the area’s largest employer, and the American Viscose Company plant, built in 1930, were experiencing shortages of skilled tool-makers and laborers. Hookless Fastener wanted to add 1,200 employees to its current work force of 3,000 and American Viscose was anxious to increase employment from 800 to 1,800. Without adequate housing these vital industries would have to expand elsewhere.
With the Meadville Chamber of Commerce acting as a catalyst, Meadville Housing Corporation was incorporated on March 13, 1935. The corporation was to be a civic project and stock was sold to interested members of the community including businesses, industry and individuals. The original list totaled ninety-seven stockholders. Hookless Fastener was the largest stockholder, owning 1,000 of the original 1,645 shares followed by United Natural Gas Company with 122 shares and American Viscose Corporation with 100 shares. The Pennsylvania State Workman’s Insurance Fund carried an $800,000 mortgage that was the first mortgage of its kind to be insured by the FHA.
The company acquired the Ellis Manor Allotment and construction of 202 “Hillcrest” homes began in April 1936. The first tenant took occupancy just six months later on October 3, 1936.
Hillcrest thrived and saw little change for the next thirty-five years. Hookless Fastener became Talon, Incorporated and American Viscose Corporation was purchased by FMC Corporation. The Hillcrest mortgage was paid off in February of 1966 and a major remodeling project was undertaken.
Talon was acquired by Textron, Incorporated in 1968. Wanting Meadville Housing Corporation to continue as a civic project, Talon officials convinced Textron to donate its stock in the company to the community. Gifts of stock were made by Textron, United Natural Gas Company, FMC Corporation and a majority of other stockholders to three local charitable organizations.
Ground breaking for the corporation’s second project, “Leslie Heights”, took place in March of 1970. Ten modern ranch-style homes were completed in 1971.
Sensing the need for modern apartments and town homes, the corporation’s Board of Directors approved another expansion project. Ground breaking was held in July 1977 and in 1978 the company opened its latest facility, Northgate -- a complex of thirty-two three-bedroom townhouses and three apartment buildings each containing ten two-bedroom apartments.
Since 1978 the corporation has continued with extensive repairs and remodeling of all three developments. The total number of housing units under management today is 278.
From the day the company was first conceived, through the transfer of ownership and through expansions, the company’s mission has not changed. Its founders were dedicated to the concept of providing above average housing at a reasonable cost for the citizens of the Meadville area. That mission continues, unaltered, today.