Weyenberg Shoe Factory

Also known as: The Shoe Factory Apartments
913 N. Spring St., Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

The old brick shoe factory has been rehabbed and repurposed as an apartment building.

Photos 

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2012

Enlarge

Map 

Description 

When Frank L. Weyenburg began making boots for lumberjacks in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, little did he know that his company would become a powerhouse in the shoe industry. The company was founded in 1892 by three men from Appleton, Wisconsin who began making boots for 'jacks in Chippewa Falls. Two of the partners lost interest and sold their interests to two brothers. Frank L. Weyenburg went to work at the company in 1897 at the age of 15. Three years later, with no education beyond the 8th grade, became a partner. He went to Milwaukee to investigate expansion, and wound up moving the entire company from Chippewa Falls because the tanneries were in Milwaukee.

The brothers became disillusioned and Weyenburg bought them out. He reincorporated the business in 1906 as the Weyenburg Shoe Manufacturing Company. The firm made boots for the army in the World War, and Weyenburg founded the Simplex Shoe Company to make children's shoes from the leather scraps left over from the Weyenburg factory.

In 1919, the company expanded by building this factory and warehouse in Beaver Dam. (Weyenburg also had operations, since closed, in Hartford, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan.)

As Weyenburg grew older and wished to slow down, he hired Thomas L. Florsheim from the Florsheim Shoe Family to be his CEO and company president. Under Florsheim's leadership, the company expanded by purchasing other lines and factories.

Frank L. Weyenburg died on July 4, 1976.

The company is known today as the Weyco Group, still headquartered in Milwaukee, and makers of Nunn-Bush and Stacy Adams shoes. The factory and warehouse in Beaver Dam became superfluous, and was closed in the late 1990s, costing about 50 jobs in the area.

Today, the building serves as a striking apartment building, rehabbed and repurposed. At least eight former shoe and leather-goods factories have been repurposed in Wisconsin, a nod to what was once one of the largest shoe and leather making industries in the United States.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 22, 2000
Reference number
00001452
Architectural style
American Movement
Area of significance
Architecture
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Building
Historic function
Manufacturing facility
Current function
Warehouse
Period of significance
1900-1924
Significant year
1919

Update Log 

  • August 11, 2012: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, added description and added photos.

Sources