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Ohio historical landmark recognized in downtown Youngstown

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - An historic building in downtown Youngstown, once the home of two notable businesses, has been renovated with the intention of preserving it's history.

Tuesday evening, The Mahoning Valley Historical Society unveiled the county's 33rd historical marker. The marker is located in front of the Tyler Mahoning Valley Historical Center, 325 West Federal Street.

The 22,400 square-foot building was once the home to two notable local businesses. In the 1920's the building was home to Harry Burt's Good Humor Ice Cream Bars. The confectioner was the first to create the idea of ice cream on a stick. The building was later sold in the mid 1930's to James Ross, of the Ross Radio Company, to house his electronics distribution company.

Most recently, the building was sold to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. The society has spent the last two years campaigning to renovate the building. Funded mainly through donations the $3.2 million renovation is complete.

"It was never changed, or altered or destroyed," said Mahoning Valley Historical Society Executive Director Bill Lawson. "It was just amazing to see it transformed back into the way it looked in Burt's time, more than 90 years ago."

Inside the three-story building, each level, including the basement, serves a unique purpose.

The main floor will be used as the historical center's main exhibit, complete with a gift shop.

The second floor was once used as a dance hall by the Burt's family. The ballroom has been restored and is available for banquets and dinner receptions.

The top floor will offer an educational center and classrooms, while the basement of the building will archive a couple hundred thousand documents.

"Everything that was on paper here in Youngstown, all records of companies, hospitals and so forth," said  Mahoning Valley Historical Society President William Cleary, Jr. "They have donated their records to us and this goes back 200 years."

Although the renovation of the building is complete, many rooms are still empty. The historical society is working to raise the money to build the exhibits, as well as shelving that's needed to store artifacts.

When the project is complete the center will offer more than the history of Good Humor and The Ross Radio Company but, a wide variety of valley history.

"The Warner Brothers with the theater, the Raffle Brothers who started Arbys," listed campaign Director Cheryl Lewis.  A lot of people don't even realize the success stories, the innovators, the entrepreneurs who have come from the valley."

Lewis said  the goal of the exhibits will be to teach future generations the success of others, hoping it will inspire.

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