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The Coppes Chimney

Hello, Welcome to this weeks Bill’s History Corner. Hope you are staying safe.

The WEBER CHIMNEY COMPANY from Chicago had the contract to build the chimneys at the Coppes Brothers & Zook factory and also at the flour mill. This contract between the Weber Company and the Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. is dated March 5, 1918, during the First World War.

This time period in the Coppes Bros. & Zook factory had to be one of great optimism. Kitchen cabinets were selling like hot cakes to the point where the factory was building new buildings, finding more employees, and purchasing more machines, all with the expectation that producing kitchen cabinets was going to be a very good and long-term business model.

If you are wondering where the chimney is, it was demolished during the building cleanup in approx. 2008. Like several of the factory buildings, it had become unsafe and was crumbling.

Remember, the partnership breakup of the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. occurred in 1912, and afterwards the Coppes Bros. & (Harold) Zook Co. decided to concentrate on one product line, that being kitchen cabinets along with operating the flour mill and the sawmill.

The previous company’s chimneys (at the Coppes factory and flour mill) were steel and made by the C. Volkman Company, and, according to the local Newspaper, were destroyed or damaged several times by severe storms. It seems likely that the Coppes management at that time (John & Frank Coppes & Harold Zook) were thinking they needed a better and more reliable Chimney for the increased output the factory was planning for. Maybe they were thinking they could not afford the down time another broken Chimney would cause. That is just speculation on my part, but it is interesting to speculate why the company would contract for two new chimneys during the middle of America’s involvement in the First World War. Why did they contract for the chimneys in that exact time period? Inquiring minds want to know. Maybe the local news papers had a story about it. I wish we had access to the Nappanee News Papers. As I understand it, the library is planning to digitize the old newspapers.


I scanned some more important pages of the 4-page contract for you to look at. The Weber Chimney Co. must have been a huge company with sales offices in 15 North American cities, plus Tokyo, Paris, Havana, and London, England. On the back page of the contract the company boasts of having built “the HIGHEST CHIMNEY in the world” in Japan. A chimney that was 570 feet tall (almost 2 football fields long), I don’t think I would want to work on the top of that.

The proposed chimney at the Coppes factory and flour mill were only going to be 83 feet and 6 inches high. Seems tiny compared to the one in Japan. The proposed price of this work was $1550.00 for each of the chimneys. The contract was signed by an Assistant Sales Manager from the Weber Co. and Frank Coppes, Pres. Of Coppes Bros. & Zook.

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