Front elevation (photo E. Miller)
Side elevation (photo E. Miller)
Factory interior (photo E. Miller)
Amity Leather Products Company Factory
723-735 South Main Street, West Bend, Washington County
Construction dates: 1925, 1929, 1933, 1959
Designers: Lockwood Greene, Engineers; Dolke, Fred, Junior
The Amity Leather Products Company Factory is a "textile mill industrial loft," a building type favored for production facilities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This long, narrow, multistory industrial building was designed to optimize natural light and ventilation. The Amity building is constructed of clay tile with timber and steel framing and a brick finish, making the building fire resistant.
Ornamentation is restricted to the central entry tower, constructed as part of the second addition in 1929. The seven-story tower has applied brick pilasters of varying height and width that give the tower a stepped, zig-zag, Art Deco appearance. While the main parts of the building were designed as large open spaces, the tower contained stairs and an elevator. The fifth floor of the tower originally contained a conference room and the president's office. The sixth floor of the tower provided access to a huge water tank, which provided water to the building's sprinkler system.
Robert Rolfs founded the company in 1915. Rolfs had gained insight into the leather goods industry working for the West Bend's Enger Kress Company, a major producer of pocket books and wallets. The Amity Company grew quickly. By the mid-1930s Amity was the largest producer of leather billfolds in the country. The Amity Leather Product Company occupied the building until 1996, when manufacturing operations were relocated overseas.
The building has been converted to apartments as a Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit project. Please respect the privacy of its occupants.