Wilson Brother Shirt Company
Wilson Brothers Shirt Company was founded in 1864. The Chicago company opened a factory in South Bend in a two story building about 1883. The South Bend plant was only the manufacturing center. In 1887, J.D. Oliver, who owned the plow company, sold the Wilson Brother some of his land south of Sample Street, west of Prairie Avenue on the condition that within 10 years the factory would employ 1000 women. Originally they only made shirts but later also made underwear, pajamas, and men's socks. By 1926 they had expanded into seven large buildings and were employing over 1600 people. By 1929 they were employing 2200 people.
Aerial view of the Wilson plant.
The former Wilson Brothers Shirt factory, October 2002. Like the Oliver Works and the Studebaker Works, the buildings stand silent. Over the years, several businesses have occupied the buildings.
December 31, 2003. Left: South side of the Wilson Brothers Plant. Right: Another view of the south side of the complex. To the left of the building with the old water tower on top, running between the buildings, was the Indiana Northern Railroad siding that serviced the company.
December 31, 2003. Left: Another view of the buildings. You are looking towards the west. Werntz Suppy occupies the building to the left side of the image. Note connections between buildings. Right: Aforementioned railroad tracks of the old Indiana Northern. This pictures was taken from between the buildings pictured above. You are looking back to the south. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Werntz for allowing me to photograph on the company property.
Want to see what Wilson Shirt Company looked like in 1926 from the air?
NOTE: On the aerial image, the Wilson Brothers factory is towards the left side, about half way up the image. The street running at an angle from the left corner towards the right is Sample Street. Also in the picture is the New York Central freight house and all of Studebaker, Plants 1 and 2. Photo courtesy Andy Laurent and the Studebaker National Museum and is very large. It may take sometime to load.
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