Historic Structures

Schnull & Company Building, Indianapolis Indiana

Henry Schnull, one of the greatest leaders of Indianapolis commerce in the last half of the nineteenth century erected the headquarters for his wholesale grocery firm after the fire of December 3, 1895 destroyed the commercial block that he had previously erected on the site. Schnull & Co. dominated the Indianapolis wholesale grocery trade until the 1930s. Dating back to 1855, Schnull & Co. was one of many businesses started by Henry Schnull in his long, successful business career in Indianapolis. Schnull (1833-1905) emigrated from the German province of Westphalia in 1852 with some business experience. He started a retail grocery business here with Fredrick P. Rusch in 1855, that later became A. and H. Schull & Company with Schnull's brother, August, as a partner. The retail business ended in 1860 and the Schnulls turned their attention to the wholesale trade and to developing and building the Wholesale District. Noted as the Father of the Wholesale District, Schnull erected the first business block on South Meridian in 1863 at the southwest corner of Meridian and Maryland Streets known as the Schnull's Block, abutting the Schnull & Co. Building. The Schnulls sold their business in 1865 and that same year founded Merchants National Bank with Volney T. Malott, David Macy and Alexander Metzger. Henry Schnull served as the bank's first president from 1865 to 1866. In 1868, he formed the wholesale grocery firm of Severin, Schnull & Company in partnership with Henry Severin, a fellow Greman immigrant. Between 1872 and 1877, he was a hotelier operating the Occidental Hotel on the site of the Occidental Building, but returned to the wholesale grocery business in 1877 founding the firm of Schnull & Krag. This firm bacame Schnull and Company in 1889. The results of the 1895 fire were a new building and Schnull's Phoenix brand of groceries, an obvious reference to the firm's recovery after the fire. Schnull commissioned his son-in-law, Bernard Vonnegut of Vonnegut & Bohn to design the new building. Schnull & Co. pioneered vacuum-packed coffee in 1922. The firm occupied this building until 1924 when it moved to larger facilities at 601 Kentucky Avenue. After Schnull & Company vacated 110-116 South Meridian, the Taylor Carpet Company occupied the building until the early 1930s. The Hibben, Hellweg & Company, wholesalers of drygoods and notions, occupied the building from 1937 to the 1960s. L. S. Ayres & Company department store used the Schnull & Co. Building as a warehouse until 1977 when the building was remodeled and occupied by Lascala Italian Restaurant. In 1985 the building was again remodeled by the same owners and it functioned as a night club and discoteque from 1985 to 1988. It was vacant until it was demolished in 1990.

More...

John T. Beasley Building - Citizens Gas & Fuel Company, Terre Haute Indiana

The Citizens Gas & Fuel Company Building is directly associated with the development of utilities in the midwest, and with the use of gas for lighting, heat and cooking. Gas light illumination moved slowly westward across the Appalachians, from its first installation in Baltimore in 1817. By 1848, when Washington DC saw its first gas light company organized, demonstrations of the new marvel had been held in the midwest, in such metropolises as St. Louis, Dayton and Cincinnati. Only five years later, in 1853, the Terre Haute Gas Light Company received its city charter, although it would be three years more before the community could claim to be an illuminated city. Terre Haute in the nineteenth century was a small town with big ambitions. The railroads had come through in 1852, the Wabash & Erie canal ran north to Lafayette and south to Evansville and the National Road (now Wabash Avenue) was the highway to the far west. Even though, according to the 1850 census, the population was only a little over four thousand people, several intrepid local entrepreneurs planned a gas works which would serve nearly 50,000 inhabitants. The original plant, which was under construction in the summer of 1855, was built by a Mr. Bickwell of Philadelphia at a reported cost of $40,000. Like most town gas companies, Terre Haute Gas Light Company manufactured coal gas, storing it in a large gas holder at the plant, and distributing it to customers through gas mains of between three and six inches in diameter. Meters recorded the amount drawn down by each user. When the community was first lit up with gas, in 1856, between 14 and 15 miles of gas lines had been laid, 329 street lamps were illuminated and between eight and nine hundred meters had been installed. The farsighted planners had, from the beginning, looked forward to the community's growth and development. The advantages of gas-lit city streets were proudly proclaimed by the local paper in October of that first year of light: Lighting our streets with gas has commenced. Night walking will soon be brilliant.

More...

Thames River Railroad Bridge - Groton Bridge, New London Connecticut

The national railway network that was to be one of the critical catalysts in the industrialization of the United States was largely completed between 1840 and 1880. Most early railroads were short lines that attempted to tap economic resources of the hinterlands of cities. By the second quarter of the 19th century, cities east of the Mississippi, particularly those in the northeast, began to build longer lines and consolidate shorter ones to tie them more closely together. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad provides an excellent example of how railroad systems were created and how they advanced transportation technology, including movable bridges, with their economic power. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was first formed by a consolidation of the Hartford and New Haven Railroad Company with the New York & New Haven Company, when the two railroads entered into a partnership agreement. The capital was divided, and the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was established on August 6, 1892. Lengthy and intricate patterns of acquisiton were common to railroading in the late 19th century. Empires were created as well as monopolies on the transportation of goods. The peak growth years of the American railroads were the early 1900s and, of those, the teens (1911-1919) were the final surge. The decline of the railroads after those years was due partly to the excesses of transportation monopolies in the last quarter of the 19th century and partly to a combination of rising costs and competition from other modes of transportation.

More...

Lembeck and Betz Eagle Brewery, Jersey City New Jersey

The Lembeck & Betz Eagle Steam Ale Brewery was founded by Henry F. Lembeck, a businessman from Jersey City, and John Betz, a beer brewer from New York City. Betz was the son of John F. Betz, the first German ale brewer in America, who operated the John Betz brewery in Philadelphia. It was in his father's brewery that John Betz learned his trade. Lembeck operated a grocery store in New York City which he moved to Jersey City. At some point in time, Lembeck was a sales agent of John Betz Ale and made the acquaintance of the younger John Betz. In 1868, Lembeck and Betz formed a partnership to build a brewery, which they named the Lembeck & Betz Eagle Steam Ale Brewery. In 1869, they completed construction of a four-story brick brew house on Ninth Street between Grove and Henderson Streets in Jersey City, New Jersey, and opened for business. As the business grew during the 1870s, the brew house was expanded with additions to the east and to the rear, the addition of another story to the main building, and changes to the facade. By 1879, Lembeck & Betz produced 31,532 barrels of beer, ranking it third among the 57 breweries in New Jersey which together produced nearly 520,000 barrels annually. One of the main factors in choosing the site was the availability of good industrial land located adjacent to a branch line of the Erie Railroad which ran down Tenth Street. Bulk commodities moved by rail, and the Erie provided direct rail connections to upstate New York, the primary source of hops and malt for beer making. Naturally, the close rail line also facilitated the delivery of coal, building materials, and equipment necessary for the continued operation and expansion of the plant. The 1928 Hopkins map shows a rail siding coming down Tenth Street and entering the complex between the Bottling House and the Original Brew House. The date of the building of this siding was not determined. By 1893, Lembeck & Betz were obtaining malt via the Erie Railroad from Lembeck's malt house in Watkins, New York. The H.F. Lembeck and Co. malt house fronted on Seneca Lake and was the principal feature of the town. Following the incorporation of the brewery, the ownership of the malt houses came under the corporation. To what degree the railroad was used for transport of the finished product is not known. Presumably the majority of the beer was delivered to homes and taverns by the company's horse-drawn wagons. By 1893, the company owned 72 horses, 24 new beer trucks, and 12 ale trucks.

More...
Page 2