History

Wisconsin Chair Factory

Another Port Washington industry which never attained the dignity of 100 years is nevertheless worth mentioning because of the large number of people employed and its remarkable record of continuous work throughout the depression of the 1930s. This was the Wisconsin Chair Company, organized in 1889. John Bostwick, a local jeweler and son-in-law of Barnum Blake, was one of the largest investors and eventually owned most of the shares and became president of the company.  The first plant built by the Wisconsin Chair Co. "became the largest employer in the area, providing
work for one-sixth of the Ozaukee County work force. Its presence was most likely the chief reason that the city's [Port Washington] population increased from 1659 in 1890 to more than 3000 by 1900. Surviving the financial crisis of 1893, the Chair company suffered its severest blow in 1899 when it was totally leveled by fire. The company showed its resiliency by immediately rebuilding, and for many years remained the backbone of Port Washington's economy. The incredible success story eventually ended as sales and profits became smaller and production slowed down."  By 1959, the company had closed its doors and its sprawling but inefficient 1900 plant, which, like the 1889 plant, was located behind and east of the N. Franklin Street business district, partially encircling the city's inner harbor, has now been completely demolished.
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