In 1872 Thomas J. Emerson erected the large factory building at Third Street and the State Street Bridge. It is one of the industrial buildings that was constructed around Racine’s downtown commercial center. The factory was built in Italianate Style, with segmentally arched windows and decorative stringcourses outlining the gabled parapet at the front. The original building can be distinguished from the addition by the peaked roof; the addition has a flat roof.
According to the deed for the building, by 1883 Thomas had a flax mill in the building. Thomas ran the company, then known as Emerson and Company Linseed Oil Works, with his two sons, William and Charles. The plant had the capacity for processing 100,000 bushels of seed into oil annually. After 27 years of business, the factory was sold to the American Linseed Oil Company of New Jersey and new management took over.
Shortly before the turn of the century the flax business slowed to a halt and the building was bought by David P. Wigley in 1905.
David was a carpenter working for the J.I. Case Company but left just before the turn of the century and decided to start his own business. He first started selling flour and bag cement out of his south side home, but as the business grew he moved to the new location. Early signs on the building advertised Ber Hur Flour, seeds, twine, flour, feed, and grains. The company was incorporated shortly before David’s death in 1910. After, members of the corporation operated the business, including his nephew Gleason Morris, and brothers-in-law James Fraser and Howell Jones.
The D.P. Wigley Company continued to sell flour to bakeries, grind and mix feed for animals, put together a healthy mix of seeds, millet, and other ingredients for wild birds, and sell straw and hay until being bought by Mark and Christine Flynn.
Mark and Christine bought the former Racine City Mill with its painted advertisements for $165,000, and have plans to turn the space into a microbrewery, a restaurant, and apartments. The upper level has been renovated to be a living space, the main floor is currently a feed and seed and brewery supply store. The rest is still being renovated.
When boating up the Root River, be sure to go past this building. The building, with all its faded advertisements, in its entirely can be seen from the river. When looking at the building from Wisconsin Avenue, it appears to be a two story building with an attic, but when looking at it from the River the full six stories are visible.