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Pondering a Coppes Bros. & Zook Photo Circa 1936

Today we are looking at the front corner of the Coppes & Zook factory in approx. 1930-35.

factory garage

I can determine the date by looking at the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from that era. The Sanborn map from 1924 did not have the garage building connected with the main factory buildings, but the map from 1930 does show the connecting building. Also, the automobiles in the picture help with the date. Does anyone know the date on the cars in this picture? It’s before my time, but I think the car in the drive is a 1936 Chevy. Help me, am I correct?

The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are wonderful if you are studying early factory buildings. I think the Sanborn insurance Company started producing the maps around 1870. They were intended to help their salesmen sell fire insurance to industrial customers. But now in 2018, these maps are a wealth of information, mainly about industrial areas across the United States. There are depository libraries across the U.S. that have collections of the maps. The Fort Wayne library has a set, and that is where we got ours. They can also be purchased online.

Sanborn Map 1931

Back to the picture we are looking at: this low building with the garage doors was where the company stored the wagons that were used to haul logs to the sawmill. The taller building to the rear is the stables for the horses. This stable building is still here and not changed very much. The front “garage” building was converted into the showrooms with huge glass windows along Market St. and also the 2nd and 3rd floors were added for offices.

In 1922 the sawmill that had been at the rear of the Coppes & Zook complex burned to the ground. This fire started the process of moving the sawmill to South Jackson St. This move allowed this area, previously a log storage lot, to be cleared and the “garage” building erected. I can’t help but wonder if this horse and wagon era wasn’t on its last legs in the 1920s. Certainly, using a horse to skid logs in a forest is environmentally friendly, but in 1925-9 how much did the company rely on Horses and wagons and not motor trucks? We do know the company shipped in logs on train cars. By 1925 I would think the company had already purchased and removed all the local timber that could be transported by Horse and wagons.

John and Frank Coppes grew up in the era when they depended on horses (for work and pleasure). We know that both brothers had great pride in the teams of horses they used for their personal transportation. My question then is, did the brothers allow their love for horses to influence their business decision about constructing this horse stable and wagon garage at the end of the horse era, instead of switching to trucks to haul logs?

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