Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

444 Highland Drive

National or State Register of Historic Places
444 Highland Drive | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Kohler Company Factory Complex
Reference Number:01000318
Location (Address):444 Highland Drive
Kohler Company Factory Complex
444 Highland Drive, Kohler, Sheboygan County
Architect: Richard W. Phillip
Dates of significance: 1901-1960

The Kohler Company Factory is a multi-building industrial complex developed from farmland purchased by the company for this specific purpose. The Kohler Company, founded in 1873 by John Michael Kohler, has remained the leading manufacturer of plumbing fixtures and related products in North America since the 1920s.

His son, Walter J. Kohler Sr., was the driving force behind the creation of the planned community built to support the factory complex. He studied similar communities, traveling to garden cities in the U.S. and Europe, to create a more beautiful model. He met Milwaukee architect Richard W. Phillip, his lead designer, on an early study trip to Europe. The factory complex contains a collection of simple, early twentieth century, utilitarian industrial buildings. There are two types of buildings in the complex, one story tall steel frame "production sheds" and reinforced concrete multi-story "industrial lofts." They consisted of open workspaces defined solely by external and internal walls, floors and roofs.

Only a few buildings were built before 1919. In 1920 the company diversified their product line for off-season demand and created new facilities. The majority of the buildings in the complex were constructed by 1930. Nearly all subsequent growth and expansion took place in these existing structures. The Kohler complex is one of Wisconsin's largest and oldest industrial enterprises defining the term "Wisconsin Industry."

The buildings continue to be used for industrial manufacture and are not open to the public, except for guided tours offered by the Kohler Company.

Period of Significance:1901-1960
Area of Significance:Architecture
Area of Significance:Industry
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Applicable Criteria:Event
Historic Use:Industry/Processing/Extraction: Manufacturing Facility
Architectural Style:Late 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements
Architectural Style:Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals
Resource Type:Building
Architect:Brust and Philipp
Architect:Hilpetshauser, Charles
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:04/06/2001
State Register Listing Date:01/19/2001
Number of Contributing Buildings:11
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:4
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:4
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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