Interior of Hoover Historical Center in North Canton (photo courtesy of Hoover Historical Center)

Visit a Museum that Celebrates America’s Most Famous Vacuum Cleaner

The Hoover Historical Center in North Canton tells the story of Hoover, America’s famous vacuum company and the family that started it.

In 1978, the Hoover Co., celebrated its 70th anniversary by opening a museum in the former childhood home of the company’s founder, William “Boss” Hoover. It detailed the life of the family, which had become one of Stark County’s most prominent, as well as their eponymous company, which went from being a producer and seller of leather goods to the most well-known vacuum cleaner manufacturer and seller in the world.

Today, Walsh University oversees the Hoover Historical Center, which it received as a donation in 2004. The museum has become an integral part of the campus, not just as a place to visit but as an important teaching tool. The university is the only one in Ohio to offer an undergraduate major in museum studies.

“It’s the setting for us to tell the story of the company and the family,” says Megan Pellegrino, director of the Hoover Historical Center and of the museum studies program. “The museum is very much a formal part of the [university’s] program.”

Boss Hoover and his brothers were raised in the home situated on an 82-acre farm in Plain Township near what is now North Canton. When Hoover’s leather business began to decline in 1908, a janitor named James Murray Spangler offered to sell Hoover a patent for an electric suction sweeper. Hoover bought the patent and started producing and selling electric vacuum cleaners, which was a risk at the time because only about 10 percent of homes had electricity.

After finding success, the company branched out into other household products. The Hoover name, however, would end up becoming synonymous with vacuums, which were sold for many years by door-to-door salesmen, a tradition that lasted into the 1950s before the company began using television as an advertising medium.

More than three dozen vacuums are displayed throughout the museum. Pellegrino’s favorite is a 1956 Constellation model that uses exhaust air to make it hover slightly above the floor. The most popular vacuum on display is The Convertible, which was the bestselling upright vacuum in the United States for decades. Models were available with bags that came in various colors to complement a home’s decor and adjust to changing trends.

“When we’re on a tour,” Pellegrino adds, “most people say they had one of these.”

1875 E. Maple St., North Canton 44720, 330/490-7435,