Industrial Mississippi: J.A. Olson Company, Winona

img003aWhen I began this post, I knew nothing about the J.A. Olson Company of Winona, but now through the wonders of the internets, I know that it manufactured mirrors and frames, that its headquarters was in Chicago, that this was the only manufacturing plant for the company, and that there was a lawsuit in 1987 in federal court about the issue of whether the company was therefore based in Chicago or Winona. (I confess I only read up to about number 10 in this recital of facts in the lawsuit J.A. Olson Company v. City of Winona, Mississippi, but maybe a lawyer out there could tell us what happened at the end?) This is what #3 says:

Olson, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stamatakis, is engaged in the manufacture of wooden picture and mirror frames, molding in lengths, and cornices. Its only manufacturing plant and storage facility is located in Winona, Mississippi. The plant also houses the administrative offices that provide accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and data processing services and a photography studio used to prepare Olson’s sales catalogues. Olson also has a retail showroom in Winona that accounts for approximately three percent of the company’s sales. Proceeds from these sales are remitted directly to Olson at Winona. At the time of the hearing the plant employed 113 people, with an annual payroll in 1984 of over $1.7 million.

Apparently, if you hit it right, you can still buy Olson mirrors and frames, at least in estate sales and on Ebay.

I also learned, unfortunately, that the abandoned Olson plant burned just last year, January 2015. The Hawg 95.1 radio station website shows pictures of the building in flames and notes that “the Mississippi part of the corporation dissolved in 1988,” apparently right after the lawsuit. I’m guessing the lawsuit didn’t go their way and they shut down the plant?

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from Manufacturer’s Record, 1951


See more Industrial Mississippi . . .



Categories: Industrial, Winona

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10 replies

  1. Any information as to when the company may have began? I am curious to learn if they may have also produced composition ornament for buildings.

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  2. Funny! I saw a pair[?] of Olson mirrors on Craigslist recently and wondered about them being made in Winona. Here’s the listing: https://jackson.craigslist.org/hsh/5732407173.html

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  3. I have 3 pictures in gold looking frames from 1800s would like to know what there worth

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  4. I worked at J.A. Olson Co. in Winona from 1973 to 1978 in the I.T. department. It was family owned and was purchased by Alex Stamatakis during that time. They made many different picture frames including a hand made wooden oval picture frame when most oval picture frames were made of plastic. It is a shame that they went out of business but the foreign competition really hurt their sales. I heard that the company moved from Chicago to Winona in 1949.

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  5. I have a J A Olson 24 x36 oval framed mirror with gold frame . Made in Winona Miss. July 30th 1973 . Can anyone tell me about what its worth. Im not sure if its considered vintage or Antique. I just don’t know .

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    • I worked at J.A. Olson company from 1973 to 1978 as IT Manager/Office Manager. I do not know the value of your frame but J.A. Olson was probably the only company to make wooden ovals. They glued many parts together and then shaped the oval with a pattern on a very dangerous machine. It was completely done by hand. At that time the company employed over 300 employees. The company originated in Chicago but moved to Winona, MS, in 1949. At that time the company was owned by the Seeburg family (remember the jute boxes).

      Liked by 1 person

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