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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WESTERN ELECTRIC CO.

WESTERN ELECTRIC CO.

WESTERN ELECTRIC CO., the manufacturing and supply subsidiary of AT&T, was founded in Cleveland in 1869. The company evolved from a telegraph supply shop bought by Geo. W. Shawk in 1856. Shawk sold out to Enos M. Barton and Elisha Gray in 1869, who then formed Gray & Barton to manufacture fire and burglar alarms and telegraph equipment at 93 St. Clair (498 W. St. Clair). The partnership, which soon included Gen. ANSON STAGER, a Western Union vice-president, moved their operations to Chicago, where the company was reorganized under the control of Western Union in 1872. In 1882 Bell Co. bought a majority interest in the firm. In 1912 Western Electric returned to Cleveland and opened a distribution center for electrical supplies at 724 Prospect Ave. By the 1920s it had moved to larger quarters at E. 65th and Carnegie and had added an installation department at 4300 Euclid. It relocated again to 10101 Woodland Ave. in the 1930s. By 1952 the plant was renovating more than 18,000 telephones and 25 switchboards a month and stocked 11,000 telephone-supply items, including telephone poles and cable. In 1957 a new distribution center was established at 32000 Aurora Rd. in SOLON, employing more than 600 people. After the 1982 settlement of the Justice Dept.'s antitrust suit against AT&T and its operating companies, the Western Electric Co. was reorganized as AT&T Technologies, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co.