Over in the 4th St. industrial area of Barberton, tucked between several mammoth factory sits a charming historical building complete with hardwood floors and brimming with Diamond Match history.
What is the building? The Diamond Match Party Center owned by Jan and Jim Kallas
Over the past several years the building has morphed into several uses, including a furniture auction business that had a five-year run by Jan’s husband and business partner but after several years the partner sponsoring the auction lost interest. Jan Kallas took it over and now her and her husband became the new business partners of the building. Jan knew her husband would never give up the building because he understood the place held to much historical significance.
During the auction days several people approached Jim about getting married in the room. That may have been the genesis of a party center. But as time has come and gone the building, like the history, has found its true home as a party center. A match one might consider like a good marriage.
And why not be the center of so much Barberton history. Kallas describes the interior as she pointed out the walls that are covered with both Match and Barberton memorabilia. Kallas considers the building a tribute to O.C. Barber himself. And as diverse as Barberton’s history is, the building is no different. The historical building has as much of a museum feel as it does a party center.
“The one hundred-and twenty-two-year-old building has walls layered three bricks deep and the ceilings are two by fours standing on end making the roof itself 4 inches thick. There is both an upstairs and basement,” Kallas explained.
Jan and her husband have worked tirelessly at preserving the building such as having a mason do tuck and pointing around the building plus having a new roof put on this year.
The building, a registered historical building, was originally an engineering room where patterns were created from sand and wood. Behind the party center building was the foundry where steel was poured then moved over to the long buildings next door where parts were made for the manufacture of match making equipment. The whole process of match making equipment started right in that corner.
The decision was made to discontinue the furniture auctions in November 2017, so Kallas set her energy into recreating the building into a party center. The place is truly made for an assortment of venues because it is big enough that a wedding shower or other group would fit comfortably but a smaller group would not feel overwhelmed by the size.
The fire department has set a maximum of 100 people which is a fairly good number but half that number would find it to be a comfortable room. Everything needed for any venue is part of the package including a furnished kitchen, sound system, a bar and wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Of course, the building is also wheelchair accessible.
Many interesting get togethers have found the party center to be the location that fit their needs. The party room has hosted a Seinfeld Party, a wedding that had The Greatest Showman theme, 1956 high school reunion, Hodges 70th birthday and much more.
Kallas really wants people to come see the building and get an essence of what it is all about. It has its own uniqueness that lends itself to so many uses. One thing she is really honored to do is showing history to two hundred and seventy third graders over a three-week period.
“Every summer kids make their way around Barberton to experience history. They go to the fire department, mayor’s office then come the party center where they hear two speakers.”
As for the party center Kallas felt everything was meant to be. She immediately put herself to the task of tearing down the old window shades and replaced them with Victorian era lace curtains. In the corner she searched for a certain style chair to fill the area and decided what she wanted was too costly, but two chairs were located in Hudson that looked orange but in reality, was burgundy, her main color for decorating the center.
Kallas purchased them and placed them by a fireplace. Strangely those chairs also had a certain connection. While looking at pictures of O.C. Barber’s mansion, oddly enough her chairs matched the ones from the picture.
Moving to the opposite side of the hall you will see a payroll office. Several years ago, she was hosting a 70th wedding anniversary for Jack Wood and his wife. Jack worked for the construction company that dismantled the Match after the fire.
Wood said he found an iron gate that he did not have the heart to throw away. When he saw the door, he said he knew where the gate had to go. It would end up fitting over the payroll door, but the iron gate was so heavy her husband had to modify the door. When you see the door, you will also see the paymaster standing behind said gate just as if it was meant to be.
Kallas will proudly guide you around the hall and nearly every corner has something to honor the man who built our town. If you look above the restroom walls you will see an array of shipping crates from the Barber Match Company, each with their own story.
As in every life there are stories, often interesting, on how things came to be. As much interest Kallas has put in the building and displaying all things Barberton, she is not a native Barbertonian. Over the decade’s things fell into place to bring the Kallas’s into the present.
Originally both her parents were from Bayonne, New Jersey where both her grandfathers worked for B&W. They were transferred to Barberton, so her parents and all her relatives became part of Barberton.
“My parents “ran away” to Kenmore even though I came to Barberton every weekend to visit relatives I graduated from Kenmore, as did my husband,” Kallas added.
But Barberton crept back into their lives. At one time her husband was renting three warehouses near the UPS building in Green and the cost was getting prohibitive, so he called her up and said look for a place in Barberton, which is what she had been nudging him to do.
When she walked into her kitchen the Herald was lying on the table opened to the want ads and there was the building they were searching for complete with the needed crane. Better yet it was for sale.
The building that is now the Magic City Machine Shop became the new home for her husband’s Rockhill Machining Industries. But that building was too small. Next door sat the location that would soon fill the need. The Rockhill building, 375×75 foot building became the new machine shop location in 1995.
Jim Kallas has a lot of knowledge of the business, starting out as a graduate of the Barber Road Machinist Apprentice program along with his now business partner Tom Eidmann.
Originally the Rockhill building was used for building match manufacturing machines. Now Rockhill works with mills across the country renewing huge bearings used in the manufacturing of steel.
This may be a good place to end the story but there is more. There is a lot of industry going on next door with huge equipment keeping America’s industry rolling. In a more down to earth Jim (Uncle Jimmy) owns a sawmill at their home. He plans to retire someday and one passion he wants to follow is cutting lumber, in other words, live edge wood. He has a good supply of black walnut that still must cure.
Jim also loves to tinker, creating unique decorative items, some that are certainly man cave material. For the past several weeks he has displayed his work at the party center (Uncle Jimmy’s Workshop). As for Jan, I do not think you will ever separate her from her love of running the party center. And at this point we will watch the future take care of all things in the Kallas world.