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Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

600 Thilmany Rd

Architecture and History Inventory
600 Thilmany Rd | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill
Other Name:American Pulp Company, Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company
Reference Number:51866
Location (Address):600 Thilmany Rd
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1872
Additions: 1882 1883 1886 1890 1900C. 1920
Survey Date:19882013
Historic Use:mill
Architectural Style:Astylistic Utilitarian Building
Structural System:
Wall Material:Stone - Unspecified
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill
National Register Listing Date:2/12/2015
State Register Listing Date:11/21/2014
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation. Additional photo codes: FCS 5/4-10, 14-17. F in the photo codes is short for FCS.

As nominated, the Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company plant is essentially a two story rectangular building mass, 317'6" x 219' with exposed basement, constructed of stone and brick. Constructed between 1889 and 1931, the buildings feature saw-tooth or raised roofs in the center of the complex and flat roofs around the perimeter. The regularity of the window openings on the north side together with the boomtown roofline on the east and the hipped roof on the west of that side are consistent with the original features of their construction.

The mass may be divided into two sections north and south, divided by a railroad spur of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company. The buildings of the northern section, which housed the paper production facilities, are rectangular in design and long from north to south. The buildings of the southern section, which housed a machine shop, power plant, and additional storage facilities, are more nearly square. The power plant is the only three story building on the site. The northern and southern sections are connected by an overpass. The entire complex is situated on an island with additional building masses to the immediate east and west. The north side of the site faces the U.S. government canal, still in operation, and the south backs on to the Fox River.

The mass developed from the center, which housed the original Fourdrinier machines, to the west, south, and east, as shown in the accompanying sketch. The northern end of buildings (1) and (2) housed the beaters, while the paper-making roller machines and dryers were at the southern end. Before long, pulp production was pushed outside these buildings to admit additional Fourdrinier machines which produced a variety of wrapping, lining, and book papers. These buildings were constructed of one-story coarse ashlar with exposed basement, concrete floor, and dressed arched window surrounds. A gable roof covered each building but this was converted to a raised saw-tooth roof in 1919 and the north end was removed completely to permit the construction of a second floor office space in 1954. Subsequent additions enclosed all exterior walls except those on the north side. However, the basement level shows the original arched brick carrying walls, the poured arched ceiling, and the original flume admitting water power from the canal. A two-story addition (3) was constructed on the western and southern perimeters to provide storage space and housing for two more Foudriner machines which produced tissue paper for food and fruit wrappings. This building backed directly on to the Chicago and Northwestern tracks and large arched stone openings gave access to a concrete loading dock alongside the tracks. A distinctive two story office building with a hipped roof was added to the northwest corner in 1904, extending the frontage along the canal to 60 feet. Additional storage and space for a new decorating operation corresponding with the production of coated and specialty papers were added between 1906 and 1914 with the construction of a long rectangular two story building (5) with an exposed basement and a clerestory roof. Constructed of stone, in a manner consistent with the previous construction, the building (5) featured a stone boomtown facade on the north side. No more Fourdrinier
machines were introduced at this site. The original machines remained in production there until about 1940.

During the 1906-1914 period the south section (6,7,8) assumed its present form. Various frame buildings used for machine shops, power, and coal storage were consolidated into an east brick wing which included a three-story power plant (6) where much of the original equipment remains. An overpass (7) opening into a machine shop (still in operation) constructed in 1915 connects the northern with the southern section. This building features concrete floors and wood beams and truss construction. Various adjacent frame buildings were removed between 1913 and 1925 to make room for a stone packing and shipping building (8). An attached frame structure may also have been used to prepare and store asphalt used in the production of laminated asphalt papers beginning in 1915.

Finally, additional one-story office space of brick with stone veneer on the north side, was built on the northeast corner of the north section (9) and later increased with one-story storage extending south the entire length of the complex.

Production in the nominated facilities continued until about 1940, when in accordance with a general plan to shift paper production to a second mill downstream and consolidate converting activities in the older mill. This meant that the buildings described (with the exception of the southern section) came to be used increasingly for sizing and trimming, maintenance, and management functions.

The only remaining representative of a large number of Kaukauna paper mills established in the late nineteenth century, the Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company is of state level significance historically. While representative in the large sense as a producer of the specialty-type papers produced in the Fox River Valley, Thilmany is unique among regional mills for the kinds of specialty papers produced, especially those closely associated with the food industry. Moreover, it is one of a few Valley mills using the sulphate pulp process, an alkaline process, consistent with the use of softwood. The nominated buildings, today only a portion of the company complex, show the historical development of the firm from 1889-1941, years when the firm secured its place in the paper industry. Since that time, Thilmany has developed in the same direction diversifying into more specialty lines until today they claim a variety of 5,700 different paper products.

The midwestern paper industry developed its greatest regional concentration along the Fox River between the years 1870 and 1890, and especially during the second ten years of that period. The Fox River had an unusually even flow making it a reliable source of water (for wood pulp) and its falls produced ample horsepower to turn the main shafts of the belt driven industrial machines of the day. The largest falls are at Appleton, Kaukauna, and Little Chute which produced about 80% of the available water power of the Fox. The largest of these falls is at Kaukauna. However, it is not the first to nurture the pulp and paper works. These began at Neenah-Menasha and Appleton, centers of settelement, where the water of the Fox had previously been tamed by canals and its power made accessible to flour and woodworking mills.

As paper mills expanded in response to market demands, mills developed at downstream sites and at Kaukauna, where, in 1883, the American Pulp and Paper Company was formed by Milwaukee bankers, and began operation in the following year. The manager, Oscar Thilmany, kept the business afloat and by 1889 had bought out the other partners and renamed the firm, Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company. Thilmany's company, one of eight located at Kaukauna during the 1880s, was average in size, equal in terms of capital investment to most of the other Fox mills. While it did not expand as rapidly as some, Kimberly-Clark, for example, it survived by adptation so that today it is the sole representative of the industry at Kaukauna. After working briefly with groundwood pulp, Thilmany produced pulp from the sulphite process, which permitted the production of stronger papers, for wholesael and retail packaging, the field with which the company has been identified, though with many diversifications, to the present day. The first period of the company's history ended in 1901 when Thilmany sold his interests to a group of investors led by Arnold Wertheimer, who became president of the firm. At this point in it development, Thilmany employed about 100 workers and its plant inventory included five Fourdrinier machines, four Jordan refiners, six beaters, three rewinders, two dynamos, two elevators, four boilers, and a conglomeration of converting machines.

Wertheimer's presidency, an era of expansion, which except for depression years, lasted until 1936, may be divided into two periods, 1901-1918 and 1918-1936. The first period was characterized by the development of more sophisticated wrapping papers including glassine and especially wax and asphalt coated papers. It was during this period that Thilmany began its long and profitable production of wax cracker box liners for the National Biscuit Company, an association which lasted until 1938. In 1913, the company switched from sulphite to sulphate process pulp, the better to produce those specialty papers. It was this process which gave the mill its characteristic smell.

The second period centered on the expansion of pulping facilities at the No. 2 plant and the creation of additional pulp supplies at a mill in Washington State. These activities, crucial to the continued growth of Thilmany, did not much effect the physical appearance of mill No. 1, herein recommended. Yet it was at that site that the papers, for which the company was nationally famous, were, to a large extent, produced. Some measure of the importance of these increased pulp supplies is shown in the growth of employment to 550 workers in 1939. At the end of this period, the production operations in No. 1 were shabby and it became the focus of a general plan of reorganization, which featured the concentration of converting operations, labs, and management activities at the site. Paper production was removed to the lower mill and the original machines were sold.

BUILDINGS (by map code number):
FCS 5/4 - One part of a large, contiguous industrial complex, this early paper mill building is a three-story gabled rectangle with bearing walls of coursed, rock-faced masonry. The stones used for quoins at wall edges and for surrounds of the segmental-arched window openings are smooth-finished. The stone-silled window openings are identical throughout, but the gable windows are metal-framed single lights, while the sidewall windows retain their original multipaned wooden frames. The ranges of five evenly-spaced windows in the gable wall contrast with the widely-spaced pairs of windows in the stories of the visible sidewall. The rolled asphalt roof has a gabled, wooden-framed clerestory skylight. Alterations to building include the partial obstruction of the endwall first story by a landscaping embankment, the replacement of a sidewall window by a metal door, and the obsctrution of the right four bays of the first and second stories of the sidewall are obscured by subsequent construction. The shed-roofed office wing obscuring the sidewall (FCS 5/10) has a ground story level with the second story of FCS 5/4. The obscured endwall is perpendicularly abutted by a gambrel-roofed factory building.

FCS 5/5 - is an astylistic utilitarian rectangle, one of several conjoined paper mill structures. Two tall stories of brick rise above a cement base. The roadise facade is divided into five bays by piers which intersect a corbel course. The five bays of the upper story and the side bays of the ground story have multipaned, metal-framed, horizontal windows with segmented cement sills. The center bay of the ground story has a pair of metal doors which close around a lintel-level beam which extends to a trackside gallows frame. Ventilation equipment at the right edge of the first story discharge water material into an external bin. A parapetted cornice capped by cement slabs abscures a flat roof. The visible sidewall is divided into three bays by pilaster strips which intersect a corbel course. The upper and lower sidewall bays have multipaned, metal-framed, horizontal windows. The center portion of the sidewall cornice is raised.

FCS 5/6 - is a rectangular, two-story paper mill building, abutting and projecting slightly beyond FCS 5/5. A smooth brick wall rises above a cement base. Segmental-arched ground story openings include pairs of wooden-framed windows flanking a door with a transom and a single window at the right edge of the facade. In the second story two pairs of multipaned, metal-framed, horizontal windows with cement sills are positioned at center and to the left. At the far right edge of the second story, a small, vertical, metal-framed window is set at floor level. A parapetted cornice capped with cement slabs obscures a flat roof. A pipeline extends vertically from the roof to the first-story, right-edge window.

FCS 5/7 - is a rectangular, three-story paper mill building, abutting the downstream wall of FCS 5/6, and resembling an enlarged version of FCS 5/5. The brick wall of the roadside facade rises from a cement base, and is divided into four recessed bays by piers which intersect a corbel course. The metal-framed, horizontal, first-story windows have segmented cement sills and metal lintels. The metal-framed, cement-silled second-story windows are square. A square metal hatch is recessed in the spandrel beneath the left first-story window. Another such hatch is set in the tall spandrel above the left second-story window. A tall parapetted cornice capped with cement slabs hides a flat roof.

FCS 5/8 - is a rectangular, two-story, paper mill building with a agble roof and stepped endwall parapets. Built of rusticated cement block on a cement foundation, it has evenly spaced square windows in the upper story, reduced by glass blocks and fitted with transom inserts. Like the upper windows, the ground story openings have cement sills and lintels. The irregular array includes small, high-set vertical windows alternating with large, vertical windows at the left, a series of vertical windows at center, and high-set square windows to the right. All of the lower windows have been filled with glass blocks. A pipeline mounted at knee level enters the building between two large windows at the left side of the ground story. Electrical equipment centered on the roadside roof slope is caged by metal fencing.

FCS 5/9 - is a square, astylistic utilitarian paper mill building. One tall story in height, it is built of rusticated cement blocks and has a flat roof with a metal framed monitor. The visible, roadside wall has three large, evenly spaced metal-framed windows with cement sills and lintels. Three metal-framed basement transom windows are shielded by metal cages. The left bay of the downstream wall has a tall dorway reached by an open metal8 staircase. A pair of metal doors close around a projecting lintel-level beam. The center and right windows of that wall are mostly obscured by a series of metal tanks and pipelines to the building. A variety of metal chimneys and vents project from the roof.

FCS 5/10 - is a two-story, shed-roofed rectangle abutting FCS 5/4. The ranges of segmental-arched windows in this early utilitarian paper mill building evoke the Italianate style. The windows have stone sills and smooth-finished, flush surrounds, as do round-arched doorways at center and right of the ground story of the long, upstream wall. The texture of the sills, surrounds, and quoins edging the walls contrast with the coursed, quarry-faced masonry of the walls. The building's asphalt and gravel shed roof slopes toward FCS 5/4 and is finished by a simple wooden cornice. Metal tie-rod plates are set just below the cornice in the narrow, lockside wall. Metal-framed replacement windows fill all apertures but the right, ground-story window. The long wall of FCS 5/10 is five bays wide and flush with the gable end of FCS 5/4. The lockside wall of two bays is flush with the visible wall of FCS 5/17.

FCS 5/14 - is a utilitarian addition to the earlier papermill, built of coursed stone masonry, a single tall story in height. The lockside facade has a parapetted cornice with two stepped gables. The facade's formal symmetry masks the building's two stages of construction. The upstream half has narrow round-arched windows and a wooden-framed monitor roof, while the downstream half has wide segmental-arched windows and a flat roof. The monitor extends upward in two hip-roofed cupolas, while a shed-roofed metal penthouse rests atop the flat roof. Metal vent stacks protrude from the downstream half of the roof.

FCS 5/15 - is a rectangular, two-story red brick papermill building. Its metal-framed, asphalt-coated sawtooth roof was built with upright clerestory windows facing north. Those windows are now covered. The visible portion of the upstream wall has metal-framed horizontal windows in its ground story. A series of square, two-story windows in the four bays of the long lockside wall have been reduced with wooden panels. Each panel contains two wooden-framed windows and a louvred vent. Metal hoods and vent stacks protrude from the louvred upstream roof surfaces.

FCS 5/16 - is a rectangular, two-story papermill building. Built of coursed stone masonry, it has segmental-arched windows in the ground story and round-arched windows in the upper story. The windows in the four bays of the lockside facade and the eight bays of the upstream sidewall have stone sills, smooth-finished surrounds, and replacement metal frames, A tall, asphalt-covered hipped roof covers the facade and four bays of the sidewall. The rear bays of the sidewall extend far into later construction. The ground story of the adjacent downstream building incorporates a portion of stone wall with four bays of segmental-arched openings. Flush with the facade of FCS 5/16, that fragment may remain from an early extension of this building.

FCS 5/17 - is a two-and-a half story papermill building, built of coursed, rough stone masonry. Window and door openings have stone sills and smooth-finished stone surrounds. A stepped, parapetted, lockside facade masks an asphalt-coated gambrel roof visible from the opposite side of the complex (see FCS 5/4). A wood-framed, gabled clerestory rises above the parapet, right of center. The clerestory is centered over a split in the planes of the facade; the upstream right portion projects a foot forward. This split and the varied spacing of windows left and right suggests that the apparently symmetrical endwall masks an agglomeration of older structures. Segmental-arched windows with wooden frames are arrayed in five bays of the left, downstream stretch of wall and widely spaced in the three bays of the right portion. A square opening that replaces a window in the ground story of the left wall has paired wooden doors. Set into the center bay of the ground story of the right wall is a wooden door with a round-arched transom. An old second-story cornice now serves as sillcourse for three attic windows, two in the left wall, one in the right. These are not aligned with the lower openings, but evenly arrayed beneath the top step of the parapet. The attic story is constructed of smaller, more smooth-finished, amd more closely laid stone than the lower stories. A modern addition to the complex, faced in a complementary coursed masonry, links FCS 5/17 to the smaller, but similarly constructed FCS 5/10.

1885 marked the entrance of the Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company into the paper manufacturing field of the Fox River Valley. The mill was located in Kaukauna. This was the second Kraft pulping installation in the Western Hemisphere at the time. It was the first paper mill in the state of Wisconsin to produce a tissue paper. Mr. Oscar Thilmany was the organizer and president of the firm. The Thilmany Co. purchased the state right to manufacture by the Mitscherlich process, a sulphite pulp process widely used in Erope in 1886.

In Feb. 1890 Thilmany replaced the wooden structure used in the pulp department with a 2 story brick structure which doubled the size of the plant. Oscar Thilmany visited Europe frequently, visiting World Expositions to discover new machinery. In 1901 O. Thilmany added a machine for making waxpaper. He had seen the machine at the Paris Exposition and bought it in Germany. In 1902 O. Thilmany retired but still retained a large interest in the company. He retired to Germany. He died in 1922 at 78 years of age.

The company continued to expand. In 1920 Thilmany and Kimberly-Clark jointly constructed a plant in Niagara Falls. Thilmany sold their interests in 1924.

In the 20s Thilmany introduced the 3 shift, 8 hour work day. In response to the Depression hours per week dropped from 48 hours per week to 36. In 1946 Thilmany sold or dismantled many of the older machines and replaced them with modern ones.

Presently, Thilmany manufactures 5,700 products which are marketed around the world.

The majority of this property was demolished in 2013 with only the northwest corner building mass remaining.

A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the State Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation-Public History.

Around 1867, John Stoveken and Henry Hewitt constructed a wood-framed flour mill on an island between the Fox River and the government lock system canal in Kaukauna. After the mill was destroyed by fire during a lightning storm in 1871, Stoveken and his brother, Col. Henry A. Frambach, erected a new mill on the same site, this time of stone construction with a large wooden cupola. Stoveken’s flour mill re-opened and operated in the front half of the two-story building at the first floor canal level, while in the lower back half, at the ground floor river level, Frambach and Stoveken operated a paper mill – the first paper mill in the City of Kaukauna. Known as the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill, its operations began in 1872.

The Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill initially used straw from local farmers and cloth rags to manufacture paper, still common methods used across the country and the only methods utilized by paper manufacturers in the state up until that time. However, soon after the mill’s start in 1872, Frambach experimented with wood pulp. That same year, Frambach became the second producer of wood pulp in the state and the first in the state to manufacture wood pulp paper.

Historic photographs and illustrations dating from the mid-1870s to around 1880 depict the mill featuring what appears to be a tall metal smokestack, wood-framed grain elevator, and several wood-framed additions and outbuildings behind the mill at river level abutting the railroad tracks which crossed the south end of the property. A flume at the ground floor, entering the building through a large round masonry opening below the flour mill, brought in water from the canal through an inlet underneath Stribley Road for power and use in the paper mill.

Until 1875, the mill’s island was only accessible across the top of the canal’s lock gates or via a floating swing bridge over the canal which terminated roughly at the mill’s front entrance. It was at that time that the first permanent draw bridge was constructed at the island’s west end, the location of the existing Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Frambach was active with several other business ventures while operating the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill. He moved to Menasha in 1878 and founded the Menasha Paper Company mill in partnership with Reuben M. Scott, Henry Hewitt, Jr, and other investors. Frambach served as the company’s secretary and managed the mill. After a profitable first year, the Menasha mill faced financial strains and was eventually leased before going into receivership in 1879. The company was then reorganized as the Menasha Paper & Pulp Company with Scott and Hewitt as sole owners. Frambach returned to Kaukauna at that time. Around the time of Frambach’s return, he secured several patents for machines and processes for making paper-pulp. It is believed that one of these inventions, a machine for making paper-pulp from wood, was in use at the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill in 1878; its initial installation resulting in an explosion. While it is unknown which of Frambach’s patented methods or machinery, if any, were first implemented in the Menasha mill, it can be assumed that the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill was undoubtedly one of the first sites for their use. Frambach was ultimately awarded at least 10 patents on the subject of pulp and paper manufacturing. An article in the Kaukauna Times from 1881 described Frambach’s patented methods used at the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill as “a superior process peculiar to this institution, the proprietors are enabled to sell [their products] at prices that compete sharply with the figures made by other manufacturers.”

In 1879, the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill was victim of a fire started by a lightning strike. Fires were a rather frequent occurrence in the industry during that time period. Stoveken appears to have become the proprietor of another flour mill in Kaukauna at this time, while Frambach reconstructed the mill and continued the mill’s paper making operation as the Frambach Paper Company.

In 1881, Frambach organized the Union Pulp Company with H. J. Rogers of Appleton and William S. and John S. Van Nortwick of Batavia, Illinois, to supply the Frambach Paper Company with wood pulp. This company’s non-extant pulp mill, the largest in the United States at the time, was constructed across the Fox River the following year by Fisk & Sackett.

On the evening of August 26, 1881, the mill was again victim of a fire that began in the rag room, which was presumably in one of the wood-framed structures on the southwest end of the mill. As the mill’s pump had just recently broken down, the fire consumed the entire mill structure and outbuildings. It is believed that only the mill’s masonry walls survived. Reconstruction of the mill was completed by 1882, making it the largest paper mill in the state at that time. Operation of the mill resumed after new machinery was installed that spring.

The Frambach Paper Company flourished, and in 1883, construction began on the 60-foot by 55-foot, two-story northeast addition to house a pulp mill. A second flume was constructed at the lower level of this addition providing additional water supply from the canal. Around this time, the even longer, two-story northwest addition was constructed to house paper making machines, rehoused from the original main block which then housed the facility’s beater room. Both of these additions were constructed of stone and, from historic photographs and illustrations, appear to have originally been sheltered by gabled roofs running perpendicular to the original mill and featured stepped parapet end walls.

Frambach sold his interests in the both the Frambach Paper Company and Union Pulp Company to Rogers and the Van Nortwicks in 1884 for $60,000. Renamed the Kaukauna Paper Company, with its headquarters located in Batavia, Illinois, it remained one of the largest paper and pulp manufacturing companies in the Fox River Valley through the end of the decade. By the mid-1880s, there were a total of five paper or pulp mills in Kaukauna; two others of which were located on the same island as the Kaukauna Paper Company.

By 1886, another two-story addition was built onto the mill, the first southwest addition, featuring a flat or low-sloped roof and a stepped parapet wall on its south façade. This addition was used to house boilers and a rag cutter.

By around 1890, the mill received several additional alterations as evidenced by historic photographs and illustrations. An addition extended the south face of the original mill’s main block at the ground floor level to the south face of the southwest addition. A gabled roof with minimal overhang covered this south addition and the original main block and featured a central half-round window in the south gable end. A matching half-round window was installed in the place of the main block’s central window on its north façade. The gable was topped by a small, rectangular, hipped roof cupola. It is assumed that at the same time, a similar gabled roof was constructed over the northwest addition, complete with matching cupola atop and quarter-round windows in the east gable end.

A second two-story addition was constructed extending the southwest addition farther west, alongside and up to the west façade of the northwest addition, by around 1890. This addition was covered by a flat or low-sloped roof and featured a stepped parapet wall on the west façade and the removal of the previous southwest addition’s south-facing stepped parapet. It housed stock rooms and packing facilities. Most likely around the same time, a similar addition was completed onto the southeast corner of the mill, used for wood cutting.

By this same time, the Kaukauna Paper Company constructed a small, non-extant brick powerhouse with tall smokestack immediately south of the mill adjacent to the railroad tracks, as well as two non-extant one and one-half story wood-framed sheds across the tracks along the river’s edge.

Again, a large portion of the mill was destroyed by fire in January of 1891. After starting in the rag room, the fire left only the machine room, finishing room, and the mill’s stone walls remaining. At the cost of $140,000, the mill was reconstructed that same year and furnished with the most modern equipment, including two Fourdrinier machines with the capacity to produce 24,000 pounds of paper daily powered by eight wheels providing 1,200 horse power. The reconstructed facility also included a new pulp mill in the same building as the paper mill, in order to produce most of the pulp needed for its paper production in house. Operation resumed in the summer of 1891.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the Fox River Valley had become the center of paper manufacturing in the Midwest with many of the companies staying on the brink of new technological developments that improved production capabilities. One such improvement was the chemical processes for the conversion of wood chips into usable pulp to produce stronger and finer papers which were introduced in 1875 and largely instituted in Wisconsin mills by the 1880s and 1890s. By the turn of the century, there were at least seven major paper or pulp mills in Kaukauna; many, including the Kaukauna Paper Company, utilizing these new technologies.

The mill was victim to yet another fire in 1897. New water wheels and beaters were also installed that year.

In 1899, the mill was sold to the Union Bag & Paper Company (known earlier as the Western Paper Bag Company), a subsidiary of the Van Nortwick Paper Company of Batavia, Illinois. In October of that year, this company began a major construction project. The second floor was constructed over the main block, northeast addition, southeast addition, and south addition. A single, expansive gambrel roof covered this new floor and featured a long monitor cupola along almost the entire length of the ridge. Stepped parapet walls cap both ends of the gambrel roof. A second floor was also constructed over the two southwest additions, covered by a gabled roof with similar nearly full-length monitor cupola. The wooden timber trusses for both of these massive roofs were completed in January of 1900, at which time construction on the floor structures began. The small, rectangular cupola was removed from the gabled roof of the northwest addition and replaced by a pair of north-facing gabled dormers. It is assumed that a large water tank was installed on this roof at this time as well. Additionally, a non-extant two-story addition onto the northeast corner of the mill to house company offices and renovations to what became the facility’s finishing room were also completed at this time. This major expansion was completed that June and the mill replaced the company’s original bag factory in Batavia, Illinois, in order to decrease shipping costs between the factory and its paper supply in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley. Twenty-four bag machines, several skilled workers, and the plant’s superintendent were relocated from Batavia to Kaukauna.

As evidenced by historic photographs and illustrations, additional alterations to the northwest addition were completed between 1907 and 1925, including the replacement of the gabled roof structure with a low-sloped shed roof and addition of small, upper-level windows along its north façade. It is assumed that around this time, the western tip of the mill property at the intersection of Catherine Street and Stribley Road was terraced with a large retaining wall to create a small parking lot at canal level on the west end of the northwest addition.

The Union Bag & Paper Company completed several improvements to the facility during the summer of 1916, including the installation of four new boilers to the steam generating battery, a new 400-horse-power water wheel, and two new beaters as well as the reconstruction of their No. 2 paper machine. A new 225-horse power generator was also installed in the company’s electric power plant.

By 1925, several non-extant wood-frame, metal-clad additions had been constructed on the east and south sides of the mill. Of these, a narrow, rectangular three-story addition on the east side of the building served as a “digest house;” a large, trapezoidal two- and three-story warehouse addition was built on the east half of the south side of the mill; and a two-story, triangular warehouse addition connected the brick powerhouse to the east half of the mill’s south face.

The Union Bag & Paper Company ceased producing its own pulp around 1922 and, struggling after that time to remain profitable as it relied on farther away sources for its pulp supply, ultimately closed its entire operation in Kaukauna in 1929. The Union Bag & Paper Company relocated its bag factory to Orange, Texas. This marks the end of the period of significance. The mill was briefly owned by the International Paper Company before reverting to the Green Bay & Mississippi Canal Company.

The change of mill ownership and management was common during the first decades of the twentieth century, a period of consolidation from which several large firms emerged with centralized management and diversified production. The history of the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill demonstrates this trend. While there were 130 mills employing over 6,000 workers operated by 52 companies in 1905 in Wisconsin (the state ranking third in the nation in paper production in 1910 up from fifth twenty years earlier), by the 1948 the state boasted only 57 paper mills that employed over 26,000 workers.

Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company, who had long since emerged as Kaukauna’s largest paper manufacturer, secured a ten-year lease for the mill in 1940 with an option to purchase. This was one part of a significant modernization and improvement plan for the company’s original facilities immediately east of the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill. By this time, the brick powerhouse and all of the mill’s wood-frame additions and outbuildings to the south were demolished to create a large, empty rail yard. A second-story “skywalk” was built at the mill’s southeast corner to connect it to Thilmany’s existing facilities next door. Thilmany initially used the mill to house its converting and finishing equipment and eventually purchased the mill for $70,125 in 1945. Soon after, the mill housed the company’s employment office and wax, finishing, decorating, and ink Departments.

By 1953, the company’s improvement plan was completed; including various renovations and improvements to the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill and a 30-foor by 60-foot second floor addition to the west end of the mill’s northwest addition to house a new ink mixing room. Sometime later during the mid-twentieth century, a high parapet wall was constructed along the remaining roofline of the north façade of the northwest addition between this second floor ink mixing room addition and the original mill’s main block. Sign letters spelling the name “Thilmany” accompanied by the company’s logo originally were mounted on this parapet. Eventually, the mill and its additions were connected to the Thilmany complex by a large, non-extant single-story office addition.

By the 1980s, large non-extant additions were constructed to completely obscure the ground and first floors along the entire east and three-quarters of the south façade. A small, non-extant loading dock addition was constructed at the northwest corner of the facility, taking over the terraced parking lot. This addition was later demolished for the construction of an entrance canopy during conversion of the mill’s northwest addition into office space; at which time, the interior of that portion of the building was heavily altered and subdivided.

Thilmany Papers, the city’s only remaining paper manufacturer, discontinued use of their “upper mill” site consisting of the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill and original Thilmany Mill around 2012. A plan was proposed by the current owner to redevelop the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill as the new home for the Kaukauna Public Library and commercial office space. As a part of these plans, the mill’s later additions and the adjacent Thilmany complex were demolished in 2013, making the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill the only historic paper mill that remains in Kaukauna today.
Bibliographic References:(A.) Sanborn Fire Atlas, 1885, 1890, 1894, 1900, 1906, 1913, 1925. (B.) The Kaukauna Times, Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company, Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Edition, September 19, 1958. (C.) A History of Thilmany Pulp & Paper Company (Kaukauna, 1977), p. 4, housed in the Appleton Public Library. (D.) HISTORY OF THE FOX RIVER VALLEY, LAKE WINNEBAGO AND THE GREEN BAY REGION, Vol. 1, Wm. A. Titus, Editor, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1930, p. 390. “80 men to lose jobs when mill closes this week.” The Kaukauna Times. June 18, 1929. “Bag Making in Kaukauna.” The Paper Mill & Wood Pulp News. March 31, 1900. Bremer, William W. and Holly J. Lyon. “A Little Ways Ahead” The Centennial History of Thilmany Pulp & Paper Company. Kaukauna, Wisconsin: Thilmany Pulp & Paper Company, 1983. Clark, James I. The Wisconsin Pulp and Paper Industry. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1956. “Eagle Paper Mill Running at Full Production.” The Kaukauna Times. April 8, 1881. “Editorial Excursion Notes.” The Weekly Wisconsin. August 26, 1885. “The Fiery Demon Visits Kaukauna in all Its Terrible Fury.” The Kaukauna Times. August 26, 1881. A History of Thilmany Pulp & Paper Company. Thilmany Pulp & Paper Company, 1977. Howard, Phil. A History of the Wisconsin Paper Industry 1848-1948. Chicago: Howard Publishing Company, 1948. Hunter, Dard. Papermaking: the History and Technique of an Ancient Craft. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1947. The Kaukauna Times - Thilmany Centennial Edition. August 18, 1983. “Kaukauna, Wisconsin." Sanborn Map Company, 1894. Kaukauna, Wisconsin. The Lion of the Fox River Valley. Kaukauna, Wisconsin: The Sun Publishing Co., 1891. “The Largest Paper Mill on the Fox River is Now Being Built in this City.” The Kaukauna Times. July 3, 1885. Lawson, Publius V. “Papermaking in Wisconsin.” Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 57th Annual Meeting. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1910. Local History Photo Gallery. Kaukauna Public Library website. Accessed February 14, 2013. “Many Paper Companies In Kaukauna’s Early Days.” The Kaukauna Times, Thilmany Pulp & Paper Company – 75th Anniversary Edition. September 19, 1958. “Mill Construction On The Upswing.” The Kaukauna Times 100th Anniversary Edition. September 16, 1980. “Paper Mill History.” Kaukauna Area Historical Society website. Accessed February 12, 2013. Photo Library. Kaukauna Area Historical Society website. Accessed February 13, 2013. “Pulp Grinding Patents.” Kaukauna Area Historical Society website. Accessed February 12, 2013 Ryan, Thomas H., ed. History of Outagamie County Wisconsin. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911. “Sale of a Paper Mill.” The Weekly Wisconsin. June 3, 1885. Stansbury, Karl E. The First Seventy Years – A Chronology of Thilmany Pulp & Paper Company. Kaukauna, Wisconsin: Thilmany Pulp & Paper Company, 1953. “State News.” Daily Northwestern. October 12, 1885. “Union Bag and Paper to Add Improvements.” The Kaukauna Times 100th Anniversary Edition. September 16, 1980. “Union Company in Kaukauna Will Start Up Soon.” The Kaukauna Times 100th Anniversary Edition. September 16, 1980. “Will Help Kaukauna.” The Kaukauna Times. December 19, 1899. Wyatt, Barbara (ed.). “Pulp and Paper Production.” Cultural Resource Management in Wisconsin: Volume 1. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1986. (E.) The Kaukauna Times 100th Anniversary Issue, 1880-1980, Sept. 16, 1980, p. 5, col. 4. MILWAUKEE SENTINEL. Sept 13, 1983. "Thilmany, 100, island unto self."
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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