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Miller Paint.jpg

Photo courtesy the Columbia Paint Corp. The Miller Paint Manufacturing Co. moved to 641 Jackson Ave. in 1914. The first building the company built there was destroyed in a 1920 fire. It then built this building, shown in a 1948 view.

Editor’s Note: This is the 361st in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

HUNTINGTON — The company that became Miller Paint began in Ashland in 1898 as a manufacturer of roof paint made from coal tar.

The company moved to Huntington in 1910 when it built a riverbank building at the foot of Johnson Lane. The tiny building burned in 1912. No sooner was it rebuilt than it was washed away by the 1913 flood. In 1914, the company moved to 641 Jackson Ave. The first building it built there was destroyed by a second disastrous fire in 1920.

In 1936, J. Greeson, E.W. Miller and his son John W. Miller formed a partnership, bought the business and renamed it the Miller Paint Manufacturing Co. Over the years, the company prided itself on making high-quality paint and even incorporated that phrase into its brand name, selling “Miller High Quality” paint throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and a half dozen other states.

In 1948, the company’s plant was again destroyed by fire. “The spectacular blaze,” reported the Huntington Advertiser, “left little more than a pile of scorched and battered paint cans where the factory had been only a few hours before.”

Again, the company rebuilt. Soon, it was doing more business than ever before, typically selling 500,000 to 600,000 gallons of paint a year.

Miller Paint’s customers included the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co., which used a special alkyd type paint on its rail cars. The state of West Virginia used thousands of gallons of Miller yellow on its license plates. And the city of Huntington turned to Miller for the traffic paint it used. For its quality house paints, Miller Paint used red, yellow and blue dyes made by Huntington’s Standard Ultramarine & Color Co.

In 1964, Miller Paint changed its name to Columbia Paint Corp., which continues to operate at the company’s long-time Jackson Avenue location.

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