Top: Taken in 1949 in the basement of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, this photo shows the surviving inventory of the J. Warren Jacobs Sons Company. On the far left are three "Capitols," in the middle several "Palmers" and "Every-body's," and on the right are feeding stations and single-unit nest boxes.
Middle: The last three, unsold "Capitols" and a "Cottage" that were being stored in the basement of the bank back in 1949.
Bottom: A closer look at the surviving inventory of "Palmers," foreground, and "Everybody's," background.
a 10-room house weighing about 80 pounds to the enormous "Capitol," designed to represent a typical government building.
Single room nest boxes were built for various other birds — Wrens, Chickadees and Bluebirds and the other 15 or so species which are "hole nesters." Various feeding devices were also made and a sparrow trap was added to the plant's products, since English Spar-rows are natural foes of the Purple Martin.
The business was operated during the last 27 years of its existence as the J. Warren Jacobs Sons Company, with E. Bryan Jacobs as his father's principal assistant.
Production was temporarily discontinued soon after the start of World War II, when material shortages made it impossible to continue manufacture of houses of a high standard of quality. After the elder Mr. Jacobs' death in 1947, all activities ceased until 1949, when his son revived it briefly to complete birdhouses which his father had begun.
The chief reason for the decline of the business in the later years, Mr. Jacobs points out, was the enormous rise in cost of production. As he remembers it, when his father first started the industry, lumber, cut and delivered, sold for about 12 cents a foot, turpentine brought eight cents a gallon, and a carpenter worked a 10-hour day for $2.50.
"Even after prices skyrocketed to 10 times that level, when a carpenter got $2.50 an hour instead of a day, my father refused to raise his prices, turning out the same product which meant doing so at a loss."
"For my father," he explained, "manufacturing birdhouses was not just a way of making a living. He was vitally interested in bird life and its preservation."
Mr. Jacobs has retained all designs, pat-terns and specifications in the event some future opportunity presents itself to use them, either in supplying plans for "hobby" builders or in permitting some other manufacturing concern to build the houses.
In any event, one more small, but useful, industry has gone the way of the carriage maker and book binder — a victim of mass production and "progress."