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Reinventing Play: The 1920s, The Beginning

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John Edward and Ethlyn Burke owned and operated a farm at the time of the company’s origin, but John had dreams for something bigger. On the same property as the BCI Burke company stands today; John created and incorporated the J.E. Burke company in the year 1920. The company started as a weather-stripping business in one of the farm’s outbuildings, and quickly expanded into the designing and creation of radiator furniture.

The business was flourishing in the mid-twenties which led to the building of a state-of-the-art sheet metal plant right on the property. The plant even included an indoor showroom which was very uncommon at the time.

With the newly acquired sheet metal plant J.E. was able to create and invent many new products, including a project for a family friend that changed the scope of the business forever. This family friend requested J.E. to fabricate a slide for him using his sheet metal plant, which appealed to J.E.’s creative engineering side.

J.E. had began spending the majority of his time creating, designing, engineering and manufacturing all new playground equipment including slides, see-saws, swings, carousels and chinning bars. It did not take long for the playground orders to far surpass the radiator cover business, and soon the showroom instead featured swing-sets and slides.

For more detailed accounts of the decades in Burke history, be on the lookout for future blog posts under the ’95 Years of Reinventing Play’ category!

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