Wabash Screen Door Co.

I recently acquired this fine piece of history! I had no idea what it was. I see that it says “Wabash Screen Door Co.” on the logo. I thought it was a top to a shipping crate. I was WAY off! This is an old stove board. One side was wood laths, pictured above, and the other side is tin, pictured below. These boards, which came in different sizes, were used to keep floors from catching on fire. The boards were laid face down and the tin top protected the floor from heat and embers.

 I wanted to know more about the company that made these. Finding information on this company was not very easy. It was hard to find good information. I found some information on a page with someone’s bio. I wonder if the Minnesota State Historical Society might have more information on them? I was able to find out that the Wabash Screen Door Company was established in Wabash, Indiana, in 1884, but the company moved to Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in 1891. The Rhinelander plant was destroyed by fire in 1901, and  the company  moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1902. The company manufactured screen doors, windows, stove boards, and washboards. The company also had a plant in Memphis, Tennessee, as wells as a sales office in Chicago, Illinois. The Minneapolis plant was located at 2222 SE Elm, Minneapolis, MN 54414. From other fragmented information I was able to find, the Minneapolis plant closed in the early 1960s and everything  moved to the Memphis plant. I am not sure when the company folded altogether. 

Does anyone else know any information about the company? Did you have relatives that worked there, or maybe your family has some of the products the company made (wash board, stove board, door)?

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25 comments on “Wabash Screen Door Co.

  1. Alan Struthers says:

    I was looking for the Memphis location of the Wabash Screen Door Company when i ran across your piece. You have probably seen this link:
    http://files.usgwarchives.net/mn/hennepin/bios/1923/weesnehr.txt
    I am the great grandson of the Harvey Weesner mentioned in the article, and my grandfather and my father also worked for the company. I may be able to provide some small additional information because my grandfather (Frank Struthers) wrote a family history or geneology that has at least some data. I accompanied my Dad to the Elm St. office a time or two when I was a child. I remember a lot of oak office furniture, and I had fun playing with the mechanical adding machines and pencil sharpeners.
    Do you know where the Memphis plant was located?
    I’d love to find a Wabash washboard, but I’m not sure I would recognize one (and I think they produced washboards under contract for other companies to distribute). Let me know if you find any extra one.

    • Chris says:

      Alan, just wondering if you found out where the factory had been located in Memphis? I’m a furniture maker in Richmond, VA using reclaimed materials and the wood I’m currently using is from the Wabash Screen Door Co. factory in Memphis. It’s beautiful wood. When I sell pieces, I provide details of where the wood is originally from, so I’m trying to find out exactly where it was located, any other info, and possibly a photo. Any info would be great if you found any.

  2. David Oyster says:

    I also found a Wabash hearth mat in my attic (lr.Ar.)

  3. John Droll says:

    I have the same piece as you show at the top. Mine is not as in good shape.

  4. I’ve recently been given a Wabash stove-board as a gift. It’s 33×33, with an art nouveau image on the tin side and a Minneapolis stamp on the boards. The colors really pop off of the tin!

  5. Karen sharkey says:

    Read pg.55 of Long Live The Hodag by Kurt Daniel Kortenhof

  6. John says:

    I found one in a dumpster the other day. It’s in pretty good shape with painting graphics.
    What is one worth?? It’s in the shape of a rectangle.

    • I have seen them in fair condition on eBay from $75-150 or so, generally. Not sure what better condition ones go for, though.

      Can we post pictures to this blog? It would be fun to see everyone’s stove tins!

  7. Martha says:

    I found one of these unique finds in N MS. Love it

  8. Glenda Owoc says:

    I just purchesed a Wabash tin fire board. It’s lovely. Will be using it with my pellet stove. Design is black on top of a tan wood grain finish. Would love to post a photo.

  9. I found one of these beauties in the attic of my family’s 1905 summer house in Michigan. I don’t know when or from where it landed in the attic. The tin side is understandably tarnished, but the logo side is in pretty good shape! I’ll post a picture or two if anyone’s interested.

  10. Lauren Hoilman says:

    Hi I have one of these. I was so glad to find your post.. What would you consider the value to be on one of these?

    • Priceless… 🙂 I really don’t know. Are there any listed on Ebay?

    • Robert Bauer says:

      I also just found one of these , thinking it was a shopping cart top. Any info you have would be great if you can pass it on . I found some on eBay for $75-$150 but those were in ok shape not great. I have one in perfect condition not looking to sell tho . I’m doing a Reno on my home in Buffalo NY and the house was built in 1890. I have an attic filled with junk ( treasures to me ) so I’d like to use my findings in the home when we are finished . I’m using my stove board for wall are 😊

  11. Robert Bauer says:

    I also just found one of these , thinking it was a shopping cart top. Any info you have would be great if you can pass it on .

  12. Tina Fox says:

    How much would it be worth in Good shape

  13. Rick Miller says:

    I purchased one about 15 yrs ago at an antique shop and pretty sure I paid less then $50. Never could figure out what to do with it but recently decided to make it into a dinette table. I’m have a blacksmith make a base for it. More for decorative purposes but will have two chairs made to use on occasion.

    • Very neat idea. Mine is hanging on the wall in my living room. I happened to find a 2nd one a year later. It was a smaller one. I gave it to my in laws to hang in their new house.

  14. Carl Houston says:

    I lived in Memphis and worked at Wabash Screen Door Company in 1960 The mostly wooden structure was located on Florida Street (don’t recall street number) between McLemore and Trigg Avenues. The ironwork had a date of 1901 and the floors and walls were thick oak, very sturdy. The raw lumber came in on rail cars and was cut, treated, sawn to size, and made into bi-fold doors, screen doors, and windows. Washboards were made on the 3rd floor and carloads of those were shipped out to mostly markets in the Latin American areas. Major customers at that time was Sears, Montgomery-Ward, and Central Hardware and others. Shipments left on railroad cars, trucks, and some local businesses picked up small orders. The plant had local electricity, but when all the lines were up and running the powerhouse on site generated power through a steam generator. Wood scraps and sawdust was used as fuel, but when that was low in supply, the steam generator would be switched to natural gas which was very cheap. i can’t provide a date it was closed and eventually torn down. The Donahue family were the owners or managers back then. Hope this might help some. Carl Houston, Savannah, TN

    • Linda MacLachlan says:

      The company was owned and run by Elmer William “Jiggs” Donahue, who lived on Greenwood Avenue in Chicago and married my aunt, Esther Lois McLaughlin. When his son took over running the company, they retired to Memphis and died there. I would love to know their death dates.

  15. Thomas says:

    I dismantle a house that was built in 1850 and found a walbash stove board and the wooden crate that it was shipped in and Im not sure what I will do with it yet .

  16. Theda says:

    Hello, I live in Wabash, Indiana, and purchased a home built in 1890 and found one of the boards in the attic. It says Wabash Screen Door Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota. It’s marked with a #3. Did you find any more info?

    Theda

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