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Campbell nonprofit aims to preserve, revive Sheet & Tube housing

Published: Mon, July 29, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.


Tim Sokoloff , founder and president of the Iron Soup Historical Preservation Co., holds a flat of vegetables growing at the nonprofit organization's grant-funded garden near former Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. housing in Campbell. Iron Soup plans to preserve and revive the housing units, mainly through the use of “green” technologies.




Tim Sokoloff’s vision involves the creation of a self-sustaining community in the very place where modern living began: the former Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. housing.

But funding — and a decent amount of it — is required for the Iron Soup Historical Preservation Co., which Sokoloff leads, to both preserve and revive the 179 remaining one- and two-bedroom, two-floor units built in 1918 to house steel-mill workers and their families.

“It’s all about funding,” he said, adding that Iron Soup’s time line is based entirely on finances. “You can’t do anything without it.”

Previously, Iron Soup, which has federal and state nonprofit status, had existed solely on donations and fundraisers.

In May, though, the group received its first grant: the Mahoning River People’s Garden Grant, which was awarded by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.

The $3,000 grant since has been used to fund Iron Soup’s Watch Our Garden Grow project, which includes wind turbines, LED lighting, a 24-hour grow cam, and solar panels, Sokoloff said.

In addition, the garden itself, which is on Andrews and Delmar avenues, features an assortment of plants, such as broccoli, potatoes and watermelon. Neighboring structures, many of which show obvious signs of years of neglect, soon will be covered with morning glories, helping to hide the blight.

“We said, ‘If you give us money, we can go above and beyond the call,’” he said, adding that, when possible, the grant money was spent locally. “The system here is special.”

The system is unique, he said, because though the project requires a considerable amount of power, Iron Soup isn’t “paying a dime” for it.

What is key is the combination of solar and wind power, which Sokoloff is hopeful will power the entire housing complex one day.

At one time, the complex, which consists of about 6 acres of concrete row houses and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, had approximately 350 residents, he said.

Its population, however, has since dropped to no more than 50, Sokoloff included, and the structures — which at one time “epitomized America’s power in the world at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution” — have become run down.

Iron Soup and its mission, though, is “slowly but surely gaining momentum,” he said.

“It’s not like we’re saying we have this magical dream of fairies and elves,” Sokoloff said. “People will come to see a beautiful, historical site.”

Liberty Merrill, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. senior program coordinator, said projects were chosen based on innovative design, community impact, project sustainability and potential for community environmental education.

Iron Soup’s Watch Our Garden Grow project, Merrill said, was an especially strong candidate, since it had “a committed group of people already working on it.”

“The Iron Soup project is pretty interesting and innovative,” Merrill said. “The YNDC was glad to help out.”


1michael1757(489 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

I think the only way,the only way,is if the kirwan projects are torn down. Why fund another drug infested area. People want to feel safe,plus,what are they going to do with the renters that are already there?

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2drpautot(70 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

As an Iron Soup volunteer, and o lover of local history and architecture, i support anything that helps to sustain our Community Identity and heritage. The same people who rally around tearing these buildings down are some of the same who wanted to save the facade of The Paramount Theater. The difference is we can save these, create viable housing, with modernization at minimal cost versus razing the structures. As for the problem you speak of, when the apartments were occupied by families, there was a sense of community, and that's whats needed to stop drugs in our neighborhoods. Simply tearing down the low income housing wont eradicate a drug problem. A sense of civic responsibility will.

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3ironsouphistorical(15 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Of the remaining occupants, over half own their apartment units. As for feeling safe we are sure the security in our neighborhood is better than yours michael1757 as we currently have ten cameras monitoring our core area 24/7 and we are adding more this week also.

As for drugs my neighbor who rents off soup city properties LLC is a cab driver, quite, nice guy and his wife, great neighbors. They keep to themselves, walk their dog, go to work, take care of their kid. NORMAL FOLKS.

The retired guys up the street that still live here after years and years, like to drink beer and sit on their porch.

Our current tenant at Iron Soup is a lady that volunteers regularly for various churches, is quite, volunteers here, keeps her place nice, drinks a little on occasion and DOESN"T DO DRUGS AT ALL..

There are a few folks who live in the complex that probably indulge in Marijuana to some extent but it seems that most people could care less about it.

Be sure however that the days of selling crack on corners along with whatever other crazy drug is going around are over here at least for SURE in our area.

Between our staff and our cameras it is not the environment that those type of people seek to sell their wares..

Iron Soup, Soup City Properties, Bill Kish Rentals and M & M House Doctors have all formed an alliance and agreed to screen potential renters instead of just letting anyone move in.

We would rather have empty units than to just slap someone in that will bring back all the same old problems to our neighborhood.

So before you go running off at it, you should COME DOWN HERE and meet with us and the other owners, look around and get the facts as you certainly do not have a CLUE as to what you are talking about.

Many good, hard working, decent people are dedicated to this project including prominent business individuals, local companies, YSU staff, professors and supporters, The Ohio and National Historical Societies, local and state representatives and the list goes on and on.

Now do you really think that all those people would be on our side if they thought our goals were not realistic and achievable?

Again we site Roscoe Village Ohio, and Jarome Arizona as potential business models. Do some research on those sites and how they got started, then come back and see us.

Lastly do some research on Concrete City (Naticote Pennsylvania), and Cement City (Denorra Pennsylvania). Their information and history will give you a clue not only to the importance of saving this last remaining site, but some insight as to how monumentally difficult and expensive tearing it down would be.

America has such little history built up as we are such a young country, this incredible part of it MUST BE SAVED. That is the bottom line.

Do some homework, learn the facts, then draw our conclusions.

Other then that, have a great day.

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4peggygurney(408 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Thank you for those facts ironsouphistorical. It would be wonderful to see more of Youngstown history preserved outside of downtown.

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5DwightK(1535 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

If Iron Soup can swing financing for this project from private sources, that's great. I don't think any tax dollars should be used, though. People should pay for their own hobbies.

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6ironsouphistorical(15 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Iron Soup Historical Preservation Company is a public charity under section 501 (c) (3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code formed in December of 2010.

Board of Directors: 2013
Timothy G. Sokoloff, Founding President
Gerry Gunn, Board Vice President
April Caruso-Richards, Board Secretary
Diane Marie Ornelas-Rulli Treasurer

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7ironsouphistorical(15 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago



Timothy G. Sokoloff, Founding President
Gerry Gunn, Board Vice President
April Caruso-Richards, Board Secretary
Diane Marie Ornelas-Rulli Treasurer
Dr. Donna DeBlasio, Board Member
Rick Rowlands, Board Member
Ron Eiselstien, Board Member
Mark McGrail, Board Member
William Kish, Board Member
Tim O'Bryan, Board Member
Linda L. Gens, Board Member

Two of our Board Members are Presidents of Nonprofits themselves, We have a PhD in History on our Board and 3 Members with Master's Degrees (one of which has 2 Master's Degrees) and, one of which has a degree in Historical Preservation with a concentration in Museum Studies. We are also fortunate to have 3 who have served our country,

ISHPC is 'not' a Hobby. YNDC's Garden Grant was funded by the United States Dept. of Agriculture.

Best Regards,
Linda L. Gens, MA BA Executive Dir. ISHPC

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8ironsouphistorical(15 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

ISHPC website: www.ironsoup.com

ISHPC is on Facebook under "Iron Soup Historical Preservation Co.

Click the link below and view actual and rare 1959 video footage of LIFE IN THE COMPANY HOMES


Additionally, an entertaining and informative video about our ISHPC, the history of the Company Homes, and actual photos from the "Hey Day" of Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company Homes, and last but not least the end game, the creation of a viable Historical District in Campbell that brings tourism, creates jobs and attracts local small businesses, can be found be clicking the link below:


Best Regards,
Linda L. Gens, MA BA Executive Dir. ISHPC

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9ACarusoRichards(2 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

I spent most of my formative years in rural Trumbull County, but my parents are from Youngstown. I have lived on the East side of Youngstown and now Campbell. In fact, I live one minute from the former YS & T Company homes. I have a M.A. in History with concentration in Museum Studies. I have a B.A. in History focusing on Historic Preservation. While I do not currently work in my field, I volunteer many hours to Iron Soup as both Board Secretary and a volunteer fundraiser coordinator. I have two positions and a fledgling business to attend to, as well as a husband and home.

If I didn’t believe in what is possible in this neighborhood on both a professional and personal level, I wouldn’t be volunteering what little time I have left over to the work being done at Iron Soup Historical Preservation Company. I visit Iron Soup frequently at all hours, even at night. If there is drug activity, I haven’t witnessed it. It has also come to the point where people in the neighborhood wave and smile at me because they recognize me and what we are trying to do. It's important for residents to see "outsiders" who also believe in their neighborhood (even if I'm only little bit out of their area).

It’s true that the company homes were a vibrant part of Campbell in the past, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be now or in the future. These buildings were built to last and are an integral part of our history. Rehabbing these company homes is about so much more than providing homes. What we are doing at Iron Soup is innovative. We are taking an endangered national historical site and making it green and self-sustaining. We are making it beautiful and livable again. We will bring in heritage tourism by working with other organizations in the area. We will bring in small businesses. We will provide jobs.

For me personally, it’s about providing hope and believing in what this area can be once again. It’s about rebuilding that sense of community and pride that people showed in that neighborhood. Most importantly, it’s about celebrating and embracing our past while moving into the future. This is not my “hobby.”

April Caruso-Richards, M.A., Board Secretary, ISHPC

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10ironsouphistorical(15 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

@zz3 Iron Soup Historical will continue to do the work that is under our charge. We hope and pray those who are in charge of non profit organizations in those areas will do the same. Until then we will bloom where we are planted - Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company homes.

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