Evansville Indiana's Premiere Office Building with Historic Character 420 NW 5th Street • Evansville, IN 47708 • 812.423.6200 • Email www.woolenmilloffices.com

History of the Woolen Mill Offices Building

From Textile Manufacturing to Drug Distribution

Formerly known as the Charles Leich and Company Building, the Woolen Mill Offices Building is the remaining component of what was originally the Evansville Woolen Mill factory complex. The site itself was a locus for the Evansville textile industry when John W. Gruen made the shift from "cottage" weaver to textile manufacturer in 1865 and began producing an extensive line of loom products in several buildings at Fourth and Bond. By 1873, the Gruen concern merged with the Evansville Woolen Mill, an enterprise dating from 1870 which continued in operation at this location until the early 20th Century. A relative of the Leich family, August Lemke, was a partner in the Evansville Woolen Mill, which was founded under the name of Heuke and Lemke.

features of the Woolen Mill Office Building

Photos from the Archives of Charles Leich and Company

Changing Economy...

The majority of the Woolen Mill operations were within assorted buildings facing Fourth Street. It was not until 1889 that the company began to develop its land on Fifth Street, from Bond to the Southeast...an area which includes the present structure. A four story brick addition was added in 1905, and one original exterior wall of the 1889 structure is now found in the interior of the present surviving building. A depressed cotton market in the spring of 1911 precipitated the closing of many of the Country's mills. This national circumstance may have had an adverse effect on the Woolen Mills performance, for in July of the same year the company ceased operations.

Continued Restoration and Renovation

Charles Leich and Company, forced to relocate after a fire destroyed their downtown pharmaceutical warehouses, purchased the old mill building in 1914 and engaged local architect Harry E. Boyle to remodel it to accommodate the operations. The project entailed only interior alterations; the exterior of the building was little changed, and the basic plan of the old mill structure has since been keep in tact.

The structure was completely rehabilitated to meet and anticipate changing modern standards in the mid 1980s by Bob Leich, who hired local award winning architect Ed Hafer to capture the charm of the original structure and equip it for the technology of the future. Bob painstakingly saw to every detail of the renovation creating a beautiful product ready to meet the needs of businesses large and small. The structure is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been renovated on an ongoing basis including in the year 2000 when the previously untouched 22,500 square foot second floor was totally redone to modern standards.

The building now consists of a 4 story historical brick building fronting Fifth Street adjoining a new, state of the art addition to the west providing a combined 73,500 sq. ft. structure. Exposed brick, arched doorways/doors and custom replacement windows add to the charm and character of the building. There are two front entrances, a rear entrance and a loading dock entrance. An additional entrance could easily replace the overhead door on the south end of the Fifth Street side.

This timeless historic beauty now stands poised to serve your business far into the future.