The History of Warehousing in Ohio

When a state includes a city like Cleveland that features a historic Warehouse District, it’s a pretty good indication that warehousing has been in the area for quite some time.

While it’s somewhat difficult to determine exactly when the warehousing industry moved into the state, some of the oldest warehousing companies have been in continuous operation since the 1850s.

With such an extensive background, how could we not explore the history of warehousing in Ohio?

The Cleveland Warehouse District

If you were to visit the Cleveland Warehouse District during the early 19th century, you might be surprised to see very few, if any, warehouses in the area. That’s because the Warehouse District was originally one of Cleveland’s residential areas. It wasn’t until the later part of the 1800s that warehouses began moving into the area, which soon became the city’s wholesale commercial district. For more than a century, the area was filled with busy warehouses and other distribution sites.

However, during the late 1960s, warehouse companies began moving elsewhere, and by 1980, the area was full of many abandoned buildings. Crime rates increased, driving out even more businesses.

By the late 1980s, a plan to revitalize the area was put into action. After the successful Flats area from a desolate, polluted area into a popular entertainment district, Cleveland officials saw a chance to do the same with the Warehouse District.

The area soon became one of Cleveland’s trendiest neighborhoods. Many of the old warehouses were renovated and turned into condos, restaurants, and nightclubs. A number of artists moved into these inexpensive housing options, leading to various art galleries and other venues opening in the area. Due to gentrification, however, many artists soon could not afford to live in the Warehouse District.

Big Names in Ohio Area Warehousing

Beyond the Cleveland Warehouse District, many big-brand warehousing companies started in Ohio, and continue to make strides for their businesses today.

Taylor Distributing & Warehouse
The Taylor Distributing & Warehouse Company is one of the oldest warehousing companies not only in Ohio but also in the entire Midwest region. Founded in 1850 with only a single horse and a wagon to its name, the Taylor Drayage Company would eventually grow and transform into what is today a fifth-generation owned and operated warehousing and logistics business. Taylor helps a number of large international businesses manage their supplies and products.

Cotter Merchandise Storage Co. of Ohio
Another warehousing company in Ohio, that’s almost as old as Taylor, the Cotter Merchandise Storage Co. was founded in 1872. Today, the company operates out of Akron, Ohio, where it has more than 750,000 square feet of warehousing space. That’s a long way from what the original Cotter Transfer and Storage Company had to offer.

Lee Storage Company
Another of the oldest warehouses in the state, the Lee Storage Company has been based out of Toledo, Ohio, since 1894. The company is currently under the leadership of the fifth generation of the Lee family. With 80,000 square feet of warehousing space in Northwest Ohio, Lee Storage Company is one of the largest warehousing companies in that part of the state.

The Future of Warehousing in Ohio

The future of an area can often be predicted by looking at its past.

For the warehousing industry in Ohio, it’s pretty clear to see that it has been one of the state’s strongest areas for over a century, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon. With several dozen major warehousing businesses, many of which occupy a huge amount of space, it looks like there will be plenty more to add to the history of Ohio’s warehouses in the coming years.

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