BELLVILLE — The aphorism “history repeats itself” may help us predict cause and effect. For example, you bring a new business to town, it is going to have an effect. See! We can learn things from the past, or we repeat them.
Here is a story unfolding right now: Intel chose Licking County for a new factory.The Silicon Valley semiconductor maker plans to invest $20 billion in a site in Licking County that will employ 3,000 workers.
Ah but, Central Ohio already had a housing shortage and a high demand for housing. Now, Intel Corp. is poised to bring thousands of new jobs to the region and that means more housing for workers.
This modern day challenge was echoed just over 100 years ago — in Bellville.
When a factory moved into town, local officials probably didn’t anticipate the housing issue that would arise from it.
It’s hard to imagine: a housing shortage in Bellville. Yet that was one of the lead stories on the front page of the paper. Keep reading.
Richland County Leader, Oct. 1, 1920
HOUSE SHORTAGE MAY DRIVE MANY FROM THE TOWN
Instability to Secure Living Accommodations Threatens to Cause Early Removals.
Regardless of the fact that the recent census showed the population of Bellville to be less that 10 years ago, the village is at present facing a house shortage such as never before known here and one which threatens to prove a great detriment.
For the past several months the need for more dwellings has been apparent, but in spite of this fact, there has been little activity along the line of building operations. Only a few homes were erected during the summer, and these were mostly for the occupancy by families already living here and gave no extra accommodation to newcomers or to those seeking to locate here.
In recent issues of the Leader attention has been called to the plight of families unable to find housing accommodations here. At present there are two families in the town who have been trying desperately to find homes, but without avail. They are facing the alternative of inducing householders to share their homes with them or removing from the city [yes, Bellville was considered a city by that 1920s editor].
It is said the Bemiller foundry could give permanent employment to many more men if there were more homes erected in Bellville. Men with family hesitate to come work here without first knowing how they are going to provide living quarters for their wives and children.
The Leader has been handicapped in great measure through the housing problem. Bert Nichols, Mansfield printer, who was here during the summer, was obliged to leave because he could secure no desirable place for his family.
Unless the situation can be relieved so accommodations may be secured for the help so badly needed in this office, there is a strong probability that the Leader will be obliged to suspend publication or the plant taken to another town or city.
Nearly six months ago Squire Hess told this writer that he had applications from nearly 50 Mansfield men for dwellings here. Also, this writer was recently told by Squire James Howard that he could find tenants for scores of homes if there to be had here. Mr. Howard believes that the completion of the pike road to Mansfield will augment the demand for homes here next spring, but as. Yet nobody seems to be taking the initiative in the matter of expanding Bellville’s housing facilities.
It is well known by practically everybody that Bellville could have the chance this coming spring to launch the biggest building boom of any village in this part of the state. Many believe the population could be doubled.
The whole matter seems at present to be lying dormant, awaiting somebody to “take the bull by the horns” and pave the way for the great influx of desirable newcomers that would be glad to make Bellville their permanent home.
Here would be a fine opportunity for the Bellville businessmen’s association to do something worthwhile by getting behind a movement to put in a building revival here next spring. Or, why would it not be a sound and timely proposition for some of the local capitalists to form a building and loan association and erect or assist in the building of new homes which would mean so much to this village?
HARD TO FIND A BED
James A. Kendall, of Baltimore, arrived in Bellville last week and is employed in the Bemiller foundry. Due to the shortage of houses, he is experiencing difficulty in even securing a bed to sleep in.