Roberts Brothers Broom Factory
In 1910 Porse Roberts started a broom factory right outside Tornado in Saint Albans on Ferrell Road. In 1915 the business had grown so much they moved it to downtown St. Albans and then by 1919, the Charleston Broom Factory had come into existence. This company still exists today outside Kanawha State Forest.
Backstory and Context
According to Tornado Remembers, Porse Roberts and his sons Dennis, Harry, Carl and Mac began the Roberts Brothers Broom Factory in 1910. It later became the Charleston Broom Factory. It was located on Ferrell Road where Pine Meadow Apartments are currently located.
Roberts had been working for the Roman Pickens Grist Mill since 1889 when it was suggested that he start the broom factory on Ferrell Road. He and his sons took a small house on their farm that was not being used and painted the year, 1910, in red paint on it and raised broom corn for the brooms.
The first broom machine was built by Mr. Ferrell who suggested that Roberts start the factory; Roberts himself improved upon the machine. The machine is still being used in the making of brooms in the Charleston Broom Factory building in Loudendale, WV, today.
In 1915, business was so good they moved the company to St. Albans to a site behind the C&O Building (Tornado Remembers). By 1919, the Charleston Broom Factory was operating on the East End of Charleston. It used to be situated on the where Laidley Field is now, but now it is in a building by Kanawha State Forest. It is the only remaining broom manufacturer in West Virginia (washingtontimes.com). The current owner, Jim Shaffer has worked there since he was 17.