ROSE METAL INDUSTRIES one of the area’s most noted metal fabricators, was established in Cleveland in 1904 by Martin Rose (1870-1955).  

Born in Hungary, Rose apprenticed as a blacksmith at the age of thirteen and became a journeyman four years later. He then traveled to Vienna to work at a technical trade school. Having achieved the rank of master, he traveled back to Budapest to work for famed master blacksmith, Jungfer. He opened his own shop when he was twenty-seven. Three years later he married Margit Mahrer. Their first son, Istvan (Stephen) was born the following year.

Beset by high taxes in Budapest, he moved to Cleveland in in 1903, selecting the city, in part, because of its reputation as a leader in steel-making and metal work. He opened his first shop on Cherry Street (now East 22nd) and named it Rose Iron Works. Seven years later he moved his shop to East 43rd St. He built his business by making cold calls on potential clients and displaying exquisite iron roses he had fabricated as samples of his skills as an artisan.  

Initially the company worked on commercial projects, but soon moved into decorative work for private clients, including the MATHER, Sherwin, and SEVERANCE families. Martin’s first major big commission was to create driveway and walkway gates for the home of FRANCIS DRURY.

In 1929, Rose brought Paul Feher into the company. Feher has worked for one of the best Parisian metalworking companies during that era. Rose and Feher created award winning pieces in the Art Deco style. The Great Depression curtailed the production and the advent of World War II, restricted the use of metals for decorative purposes. Rose struggled to redefine the business. As ornamental projects declined in the post-war period, Rose spent less time in the shop. He died in 1955 at age 85.

Martin’s sons, Stephen, Milton, and Melvin took over the day-to-day operation of the business during this period. Stephen, the eldest, oversaw overall management; Milton, the middle son, took over the shop; and Melvin, the youngest, took over as head designer. Major commissions during this period included a mural for the entrance of the CLEVELAND HOPKINS AIRPORT and sculptures for Marathon Oil Co. which were displayed at the company’s Texas headquarters. Melvin became skilled in decoratively sandblasting glass panels, his greatest project was a multi-panel, 30-foot glass mural designed by Elsa Shaw for the Dollar Steamship Line. In 1965, he produced a 60-foot mural designed by John Risley for the CLEVELAND BOTANICAL GARDEN. Other, smaller, works during this time included safety awards for Republic Steel employees and a state seal for the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Department.

Melvin took over management of the company following Stephen’s retirement in 1965 and Melvin’s death in 1969. The company name was changed to Rose Metal industries in the 1970s to better reflect its shift from ornamental iron work to commercial and industrial products. Growth in these areas led the company to lease a facility on River Road. In 1979 it expanded its offerings to foundries, smelters, die casters, and started a standard hand tool line. Ten years later, in 1989, Rose Metal Industries moved to its current (2019) location at 1155 Marquette Avenue, that’s closer to their headquarters and forge at 1536 E. 43rd Street. The current head of the company is Melvin’s son, Bob Rose, who assumed leadership in 1971.

Gretchen Norton