First Street Ironworks - 1850
720-722 N 1st Street
In 1875, the Buck's Stove & Range Co. began manufacturing at this site. The company was one of the largest manufacturers of its kind in the United States. In the early 1900's you could buy a top of the line Buck's Stove for around $100 at $5 down and $5 a month from local retailers.
James W. Van Cleave was president of the company and founder, and president of the Citizens Industrial Alliance (CIA). The CIA advocated "Open Shop" labor conditions. Most famously, perhaps was the Supreme Court case, Gompers V. Buck's Stove and Range Company. In 1906 workers at the Buck Stove and Range Company in St. Louis went on strike for a 9-hour day. The AFL called for a boycott and published a boycott list in the AFL newsletter. The company obtained a full injunction forbidding this boycott. For refusal to obey, Samuel Gompers, president of the AFL and others were sentenced to prison for contempt.
The Supreme Court reversed the first decision on the grounds that the proceedings should have been instituted by the court rather than by Buck’s Stove company. A second contempt trial was held. On June 24, 1912 Gompers was once again found guilty of contempt and sentenced to one year in prison.