The Chair Factory

 

The Capital Chair Factory

 

After Brooklyn lost the Duplex Windmill Factory, the buildings stood empty until a new proposition was revealed. D.A. Anthony had purchased the property from the Andrew family and was looking for prospects and opportunities for this land to prosper again for the community.  His quest led him to James Ingells in 1902.

He wrote to his friend, John Bell: ‘I’ve found a man who wants to start a chair factory. He wants to make eleven different kinds of chairs and will want to start with at least, fifty men to work in the factory. Do you think the men at Brooklyn will be interested?’

Continuing he wrote: “I’ve described the buildings and location and he thought ‘it was just the place and wants to enlarge.’ I will do all in my power to get this started. You may put this information in the Brooklyn News (Brooklyn’s newspaper). He wants to locate on a railroad line that goes directly to Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul as he gets his lumber from Chicago. He wants to start as soon as possible.”

Communicating with Brooklyn’s newspaper editor, Marion Adamson, Anthony revealed this gentleman was James Ingells to the public. Everyone showed an interest for a new business in the village.

The invitation was sent to Ingells to meet at the I.O.O.F. Hall on West Main west of the tracks. Fifty men met Ingells in July. Wanting to show two of his fine rockers, only one had arrived by the Express Co.  Exclaiming how superior his chair, Ingells emphasized the chair was put together without glue. He was happy of the former Duplex buildings location, stating it was an excellent location for the factory after proper repairs have been done. After discussion, Ingells said, “This operation could be started when $18,000 of the stock was taken that would go towards putting the plant into shape, machinery, material and labor.” He was willing to offer this amount and would only take his stock after the reminder of the company shares were disposed of; thus share and share alike. Mr. Anthony, who owned the plant, agreed to dispose of the same to the company for $3000 in taking stock of the same in return. After some more discussion, J.H. Richards was appointed as one of the committee of three to solicit stock and obtain the sentiment of the village citizens. The remaining two were E.O. Wheelock and O.M. Case.

After lots of discussion, Ingells said, “This operation could be started when $18,000 of the stock was taken that would go towards putting the plant into shape, machinery, material and labor.”

The business prospered. Orders of chairs were sold locally and afar. Another branch of this factory was located in Rockford, Illinois.  The manager at Rockford was transferred to Brooklyn in 1908.

A native of Sweden, Edward Carlson was employed previously at Rockford’s large furniture factory for sixteen years. Reaching the status of its superintendent, he was given the position as manager and secretary at Brooklyn’s factory.

At this time, the factory had a capital stock of $35,000. Its president was F. Main; vice-president was C.H. Paulson; secretary and manager Edward Carlson; and directors were F.H. Anderson, Andrew Crahen, D.A. Anthony and Charles Walen. The factory was considered one of the leading industries of Green County.

The business closed in 1909. The interior mechanisms and tools were sold to Lovegran at Rockford and later the property was sold to Leland Graves in 1933. The property was passed on to Graves’ sons, Ralph and Cyril Graves.

The main building on the north end became a garage, repairing motors. The adjoining section on the south end was rented out for dances and social functions and became known as Playland.

The building located behind, closer to the tracks, became a basketball gym; called the Armory. It was used by the local high school and the village team, called the Tigers. Players from the UW used this building, occasionally to practice. Ralph Graves drew artistic drawings on the interior walls. He chose scenes of life around the village; people gossiping, cows, tramps walking through, farmers at work, carnivals and the sheriff in front of the jail. This continued until the community hall was built. The crowds of people were not present anymore; the building was used for storage.