Chase Grain Elevator (Ellie Humphrey photo, 2009)
Chase Grain Elevator silos (Ellie Humphrey photo, 2009)
Chase Grain Elevator
123 Railroad Street, Sun Prairie, Dane County
Date of construction: 1922
The Chase Grain Elevator played a significant commercial role in the distribution of grain, especially feed crops such as corn, oats, and barley. Erected in 1922, it is an example of a "country" elevator, a place farmers brought grain by the wagon- or truckload for shipment to market by rail. The tile Chase Grain Elevator is capped with a metal roof, and rests on a stone foundation. It is the only known tile elevator surviving in Wisconsin.
The Chase Grain Elevator represents a significant phase in the evolution of grain elevator design and construction: early fireproof elevator experimentation, illustrating the transition from wooden to concrete elevators. Beginning around 1895, engineers intensively searched for the material and construction method for terminal elevators that would be both fire-resistant and economical. Although reinforced concrete was widely accepted as the best choice for terminal elevators by World War I, country elevators continued to be built of other materials, especially wood. Tile country elevators, never numerous, were no longer built after circa 1925. The plan of the Chase Grain Elevator integrates the grain storage bins (or silos), the "workhouse" (where grain handling such as receiving, weighing and loading took place), the office, and the "cupola" (which housed the top of the vertical conveyors), all in one building. The grain storage bins consist of two cylindrical silos, with a half-silo created from the space between the two silos forming what is called a "pocket bin." Although there have been some changes, the Chase Grain Elevator looks very much as did when it opened. A circa 1944 scale stands just northeast of the elevator.