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?


from Manufacturer’s Record, 1951

See more Industrial Mississippi . . .

Categories: Industrial, Winona


21 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.


  2. Funny! I saw a pair[?] of Olson mirrors on Craigslist recently and wondered about them being made in Winona. Here’s the listing:


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


  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.


  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 .


    • 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

  6. I just purchase a J.A. Olsen Mirror at an Estate Sale. It’s oval, gold and Quite big, Very heavy… paid $25.00. It’s in EXCELLENT condition. Not sure what these people were thinking of selling it at that price. I Love It!


  7. I just bought a huge 33″ x 47″ ornate gold framed mirror at Salvation Army for $25. It has the original tag on it that gives hanging and cleaning instructions. It is beautiful.


  8. This post is interesting. Someone sent the link to me recently. I will add a detaied comment about the history from its beginning when I have more time. CHRIS STAMATAKIS


    • I assume that you are the son of Alex. I worked for Alex in CA at Radiance Vitamin Co. and then again in Denver at Western Merchants Wholesale Co. He talked me into going to Winona, I always liked him and I hope he is still going strong.


      • Wow you go all the way back to my father’s first venture as he broke away from Talley Industries. How interesting. I must have met you somewhere along the way. If you are a member of LinkedIn connect with me and I will providw you with my phone number so we can chat. There are a few profiles with my same name, you will find me as a business consultant.

        Unfortunately my father passed February 3, 2015. He suffered from several system failures. Find me on linkedIn.


    • Chris, My dad added on to the factory, and built a huge concrete water tank on sight. I remember going there and watching the men that worked for my dad lay the bricks. I actually helped bring some of the bricks to the brick layers. The time period I believe was late 50’s early 60’s. When the job was over the owners presented my dad with four beautiful picture frames. I still have them today with portraits of my family .


  9. I just received Pinkie and Blue Boy that has your company name on it. It has the numbers 296 on the back. Can you tell me anything about these prints and frames?


  10. We bought a rectangle big beautiful Olsen mirror at a garage sale for $35. To brighten it up and repair some very slight damage I used Rub’N Buff metallic gold leaf ( many craft stores carry it) with a brush an it looks new
    The mirror glass is perfect. We hung in our dining rm and get many compliments, previous owner said it was her mothers from the 1950’s?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have several different sizes and shaped L.A. Olson gold trimmed Mirrors in excellent condition and the numbers are on the back. I have no idea what any of them are worth. would love to know.


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