Clio Logo
As the United States was gearing up for their involvement in World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to unite several different service organizations that supported military members into one entity. This entity is the United Service Organizations, or the U.S.O. The purpose of the U.S.O. is to support the military, their families, and others that helped with the war effort. This organization was a public-private partnership that resulted in the creation of many facilities that served a variety of purposes.

Courtesy of the Heritage Accord Archives

Building, Tree, Rectangle, Window

Courtesy of the Heritage Accord Archives

Plant, Building, Tree, Window

Before the creation of the U.S.O., there were a handful of private organizations that had military support aspects. These organizations were the Salvation Army, Young Men's Christian Association, Young Women's Christian Association, National Catholic Community Services, National Travelers Aid Association, and the National Jewish Welfare Board. The creation of the U.S.O. helped pool their resources and provide more services for those in the military, their families, and others who were part of the war effort.

One part of their mission, especially in the 1940's, was the creation of U.S.O. Centers, where people associated with the military could gather on their time off. These centers were an important part of the war effort, as they helped keep morale up, and gave people the opportunity to have some fun. While the federal government funded the construction, local people were hired and volunteered to carry out the actual process of construction of these centers. This created a sense of ownership in the community and the U.S.O. Centers quickly became the place to go off-duty.

The Newton Falls Community Center was once a U.S.O. Center. The location was chosen by Mayor Elmo Bailey of Newton Falls and Joseph Barnett of the Federal Security Administration Regional Supervision. It was chosen because it is at the heart of the community. The project was known as Federal Works Agency Project No. Ohio 33-154-F. New York architectural firm Kahn and Jacobs created the standardized plans for the U.S.O. building program. The plans were titled Type A, B, C, and D. The Newton Falls Community Center is a Type A building. By the end of World War II, over 300 U.S.O. Centers were constructed.

The Type A building was styled in the International Style of architecture. This style is usually thought of as "modernism" or "minimalism". After World War II, the American economy allowed for many more opportunities to build, and the International Style was used frequently. This style is composed of right angles, parallel lines, glass walls, and open interiors.

A contractor from Warren, Ohio called The W.B. Gibson Company was chosen to do the construction phase on the Newton Fall Community Center. They broke ground in October 1941, and finished the project in 90 days, costing $65, 860. The building was formally dedicated on January 18, 1942 at a ceremony that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at.

It did not take long for production workers to start coming to the U.S.O building. Located only 1 mile from Newton Falls is the Ravenna Ordinance Plant. This plant produced artillery for the military in World War II the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. During World War II, the plant produced more artillery than any other plant in the United States. At the height of production, they employed over 14,000 people. Now, most of the site is used by the Ohio National Guard for training.

Because the demand for munitions was so high, the U.S.O. building stayed open to support those who worked at the Ravenna Ordinance Plant at all hours of the day. They had a Dawn Patrol program for those who finished their shifts in the early morning. They also provided childcare and many entertainment opportunities like picnics, dances, and free coffee and donuts.

The Newton Falls Community Center is a very valuable building, as it is one of five known original Type A U.S.O. buildings remaining in the U.S. It is the only one of its kind in Ohio, and it has been added to the National Register of Historic places.

Once World War II ended, the U.S.O. Center was sold to the Village of Newton Falls, where it became a community center to serve the residents of the area. The Community Center was closed in December 2015, and the goal is to renovate the building to be re-opened to the public to serve the community better.

History of the USO/ Community Center, Newton Falls Preservation Foundation . Accessed April 1st 2021.

International Style, 20th century ARCHITECTURE . Accessed March 30th 2021.

Ravenna Arsenal, Ohio History Central . Accessed March 30th 2021.,site%20of%20the%20Ravenna%20Arsenal.&text=More%20than%2014%2C000%20Ohioans%20found,at%20this%20site%20since%201941..

Smith Talcott, Connie. Personal Interview. 24 March 2021.

The Organization, USO . Accessed March 30th 2021.