Peabody Singing Tower

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 North Manchester, Indiana

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Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 1988
THE BOOM HAS STARTED (reprinted from The Journal, March 22, 1888)

The Excelsior Manufacturing Company with a capital stock of $10,000 has been organized here inside of a week.  While the enterprise has been contemplated for some time no definite action was taken until a week ago, and since that time the stock has all been subscribed, the officers and directors elected and a site chosen for the factory.  A meeting of the stockholders was held Monday evening for the election of directors which resulted in the choice of the following gentlemen: G. W. Lawrence, Jacob Harter, S. A. Argerbright, B. Oppenheim and A. C. Mills.  Of these the officers are as follows; G. W. Lawrence, president; A. C. Mills, Secretary and Treasurer; S. A. Argerbright, Superintendent of factory.  It is the intention of this company to manufacture a general class of furniture of all grades and as the capacity of their works is increased to add other branches of the wood working industry.  Of course at this time it will be impossible to give anything like a true estimate of the amount of men employed or work turned out.  The ground for the factory has been purchased of Harter’s on the south side of west Fourth Street and laying along the west side of the Wabash railway track.  The piece contains about an acre and a half, and work will be begin at once on the large brick buildings for the factory.  This enterprise is in the hands of a company of energetic and successful business men who know how to make a success of everything they undertake, and the town has cause to congratulate itself on getting this factory.  The best and most complete machinery for wood working purposes will be put in, and as the facilities here are as good as any point in the State, the Journal feels sure that it will take but a short time to establish a large and profitable business.  Help it along and make the boom generate.

The Excelsior, the new furniture factory here began work last week.  The appointments in the building are complete, unless it may be that some small machines may be found necessary as work goes on.  The scarcity of dry lumber suitable for use compels the employment of but a small part of the men who will be needed when supplies are attainable.  The men now at work are getting material out for a lot of six hundred bedsteads as a starter.  The factory has secured the contract for the manufacture of a wooden split pulley patented by D. Argerbright, of Troy, Ohio, brother of S. A. Argerbright, the superintendent.  The pulley is said by those competent to judge to be a device of great merit and bids fair to revolutionize the pulley making business.  The patentee is the inventor of a device in buggy attachments that has made the fortune of an Ohio, manufacturing company already, and the pulley he regards as by far the most useful invention of the two.  Taken altogether the new factory starts out with most flattering prospects which bids fair to bring its stock to a premium very shortly.



Source: NMHS Newsletter Feb 2002


Excelsior Factory

Memories of the ablest of the old timers is dim when they are questioned about the Excelsior Furniture factory that antedated the Peabody Seating company, corner of Fourth and Beckley. It was started some time between 1880 and 1884, A. C. Mills being one of the active local men in the organization that brought it here. Lots were sold in the A. C. Mills addition to provide funds to interest out of town promoters. The best information obtainable seems to indicate that John Hewett came here from Chicago to head the company. He is said to have been accompanied by another, a big man physically, whose name is lost in the ashes of the past. Hewitt was a brother of the president of the Miehle Printing Press company, and it was while he was here that an acquaintance was formed with W. H. Warvel, better know locally as "Squire" Warvel, which later developed in Warvel becoming legal advisor for the printing press company.

Folding beds was one of the outputs of the factory, but they did not seem to go any too well. Right at that time stories were rife of people being killed by folding beds folding up while occupied and nervous folk were poor customers. Some say that excelsior for packing was one of the products and that was the reason for the name. Others say nothing of that kind was made. W. H. Sharpe, who in later years came to be the cussed and discussed editor of the Wabash Times-Star came from the Pullman shops as a cabinet maker for this factory. Later he worked in a woodworking shop operated by Herschel Leffel on West

 

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Second Street. He did finishing work in a number of houses, among them being the quartered oak wood work on the John Mills house, later the home of John Fultz on West Fourth.

Hard times, coupled with little demand for the folding beds, finished the bed factory dream.

The Stickler Furniture company came in to manufacture occasional furniture, finally closing the plant some time after 1894. This company continued operation with a extensive factory at Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Following the departure of the Stickler company the buildings were unoccupied until the Peabody company took charge in 1902.


Research Update: "Stickler" above should read "Stickley". Please see the Stickley Furniture article under businesses. Click here to read more about STICKLEY.