Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

431 N 5TH ST

Architecture and History Inventory
431 N 5TH ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Palmolive Company Warehouse
Other Name:Allied Glove Co.
Reference Number:109250
Location (Address):431 N 5TH ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1915
Additions: 1918 1922
Survey Date:2000
Historic Use:warehouse
Architectural Style:Astylistic Utilitarian Building
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:2004
Additional Information:1918 - Sixth story south addition.
1922 - Two story addition.

2001- "This six-story, vernacular, brick and reinforced concrete building has a two-story loading dock on its south facade. The concrete frame symmetrically divides the facades, which contain multiple-light, metal sash windows. A skywalk found on the east facade spans N. 5th Street, connecting the building with 400 N. 5th Street.

This structure served as the storage facility for the Palmolive brand soap factory, which formerly stood on N. 4th Street near the intersection with W. St. Paul Avenue. The structure first housed the B.J. Johnson Soap Company, which was created by Burdette Johnson. He moved to Milwaukee in 1864 from Buffalo, New York. The company was originally located at 78-80 W. Water Street until Mr. Johnson relocated to the subject structure in 1887.

The first available building permit for the property dates to 1915. Three years later, an "addition to the warehouse" was constructed by engineers Sockwood & Greene for $35,000. In 1922, another addition by Sockwood & Greene was built at a cost of $25,000. The addition was specifically for "storage tanks," which the building required to store oil used for soap making. The oil was then pumped from this building to the processing building through pipes located in a 6' by 6' tunnel. The subject property originally also included two sidetracks for delivering the oil by railroad.

Mr. Johnson died in 1901 and his son, Caleb became president of the business. In 1918, the company's name was changed to the Palmolive Company. At this time, the Palmolive brand was widely recognized. Production of soap and cold cream resulted in $17 million in sales in 1922, when the Palmolive Company included 19 storage houses and multiple offices located throughout the United States. In 1935, the company merged with the Colgate Company and the Peet Company, resulting in the closure of the Milwaukee plant. Subsequent owners of the property included American Warehouse Corporation, Boston Store Company and, currently, Allied Glove and Safety Products. The latter uses the building as a distribution center for its products. Modifications to the building since 1935 include the construction of a new truck loading dock in 1966 and the installation of new windows "in the southeast area" in 1990."
- "Marquette Interchange, Milwaukee", WisDOT ID #1060-05-02, Prepared by Heritage Research (McQuillen) (2001).
Bibliographic References:Building Permits.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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