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Bronze Symposium – Antioch Art Foundry

Local Foundry History

Yellow Springs, Ohio Foundry

The mid-1920s saw the start of two ventures that would become major businesses in Yellow Springs: Antioch Art Foundry and Antioch Bookplate Company.

The companies were influenced by an effort by Arthur Morgan, who became president of Antioch College in 1921, to develop Antioch-based industries in Yellow Springs that would be operated by students or faculty members.

The Antioch Art Foundry — which after World War II would be incorporated as Morris Bean & Company — was started in 1926 when Morgan wanted to set up an operation to practice the “lost wax” method of casting small bronze objects. The college purchased an unused barn on Corry Street for the foundry. Morgan then persuaded an Italian sculptor named Palisati to come to Antioch to teach and work with students in the foundry.

There is conflicting information about what happened to Palisati. An article on the early history of the foundry by Clarence Leuba that was published in the News in 1972, said that the sculptor left for New York soon after arriving at Antioch. A 2002 article on Morris Bean & Company in the Springfield News-Sun reported that Palisati briefly worked with another sculptor, Amos Mazzolini, who then took over after Palisati left. Several papers by Antioch students on the company reported that Mazzolini said that Palisati was difficult to work with, in part because he was secretive.

As Morgan envisioned, the foundry’s first managers were co-op students at Antioch. However, some of those initial students, Leuba reported, “saw no future in the enterprise” and like Palisati, left.

Then came along another Antioch student, Morris Bean, a physics major from North Dakota, who took over the responsibility of co-op manager at the foundry in 1928. At the foundry, Bean put “his scientific training ability along with his talent for business to work,” partnering with Mazzolini, according to a short paper on Morris Bean history, which the company put together.

After Bean graduated from Antioch in 1930, he became the full-time manager of the Antioch Foundry. A year later, Bean married Xarifa Sallume the day after she graduated from Antioch with a mathematics degree. Xarifa joined the foundry, heading the operation’s technical research and development.

By this time, the foundry was increasing its business and moved to a larger barn near the Antioch campus, the company said in its history paper. In 1932, Morris Bean, Mazzolini and Morgan incorporated the Antioch Foundry.

While the foundry would eventually specialize in more industrialized work, its early focus was on artistic and architectural projects. Examples include decorative work at the Springfield post office, panels depicting the growth of medicine at Community Hospital, a nine-foot tall base to a flagpole at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and several pieces at the Natural History Museum in New York, including four 30-inch eagles.

Three years after it was incorporated, the foundry received a $500 research grant from Goodyear Tire & Rubber to develop aluminum tire molds. During this period, the Beans’ research moved the foundry in the direction of industrial arts. The Beans and Mazzolini eventually ended their partnership, allowing Mazzolini to concentrate on artistic work, the Beans, on their industrial craft.

Sources: Yellow Springs News: July 2003; Mihalek, Installment 6: 1913 to 1928

Xenia, Ohio Foundry

In 1920, Xenia Foundry poured its first gray iron castings for a growing industrial market in the roaring twenties. Ward Huston, great-grandfather of current president Aleks Huston, raised $33,800 of capital to start the foundry at the current location in Xenia, OH. The Great Depression took a toll on all manufacturing, but the Foundry survived. By the late 1940’s, business was on an upswing and Xenia Foundry added production space, people, and new equipment. The experimental pouring of ductile iron was done in 1962. In 1974, a devastating tornado hit Xenia Foundry and the surrounding area. The destruction was extensive and the rebuilding took 5-1/2 months to complete, but the Foundry survived. Loyal employees, customers, and suppliers were steadfast in their support. During the 1980’s, greensand molding capacity increased and electric coreless induction melting was installed. Tom Huston, second generation owner, retired and son Bob Huston took over the operation. NoBake (airset) coremaking began in 1992 and soon after, nobake moldmaking commenced. By 2000, Xenia Foundry was producing about 1500 tons of gray and ductile iron castings annually in a 42,000 sq.ft. facility. In 2008, Aleks Huston became the 4th generation of the Huston family to manage Xenia Foundry. A major installation of NoBake molding and material handling equipment was undertaken in 2009. Today, Xenia Foundry is a premier small jobbing foundry producing quality iron castings for a select group of specialty equipment manufacturers in the United States.


Note: The late Irma Mazzolini Wright came to Yellow Springs in 1957 from Lucca, Italy to care for her uncle Amos Mazzolini. Irma was a graduate of the University of Roma with a master’s degree in Education. She was the mother of Angela Wright (Spyridon) and Maria Wright, both of Yellow Springs.

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