Battle Creek’s Record Box 1902 and Today
On January 14, 1902, Battle Creek’s newest business was born. That’s the day that Eugene Cole reorganized his newspaper publishing company as the Record Printing & Box Company. The Battle Creek Daily Moon wrote, “The new company will manufacture cartons and paper boxes for a number of the health food concerns of Battle Creek; will do job printing on a large scale, and will continue the publication of the Sunday Record and other publications already established under the name of the Record Publishing company.” The Record Printing and Box Company the latest of secondary industries created by the cereal boom in Battle Creek.
Plans were to spend at least $10,000 to build the 3-story factory building, which could be expanded to a five-story structure, if necessary. It estimated that it would take three months to build, depending on weather.
The Daily Moon went on to say, “The new plant will be one of the most modern in the west, and will further emphasize Battle Creek’s fame as a publishing center.”
The building on Carlyle Street was soon the home to 150 workers and running presses 22 hours a day to keep up with demand. However, in 1905, Cole resigned due to ill health and the Record Printing and Box Company went into receivership.
Although the business continued, in 1907 the plant boiler exploded, resulting in substantial damage. The Record Printing and Box Company was sold to board member W.I. Fell, who relocated the printing equipment to another building and reorganized the company into the Michigan Carton Company. Fell became the general manager of Hygienic Foods. Michigan Carton later became Michigan Paperboard Corp.
As for the three story brick timber-framed building at 15 Carlyle Street, it would be used for many things over the next 120 years or so.
Part of the building was rented out to the W. H. Eldred's Wholesale Saddlery, a maker of fine leather goods. The business thrived, although the rise of the automobile slowly reduced demand for its products. Eldred temporarily retired in 1915, but reopened at the start of World War I to produce goods for the war, closing the business in 1919.
In 1916, the Alsteel Manufacturing Company rented space and made a paper baler, meant to compress flammable waste materials and reduce fire risk. The company expanded to produce a range of steel products, including wire baskets, lawn-sprinklers, vegetable slicers, and hose clamps. Alsteel remained in the facility until 1952.
The building was used as a warehouse and sales office for Hermann Typewriter Service, and in 1968, the company was purchased by Fred Crandal and renamed Officeways. Crandal retired in 2000 and donated the building to the Battle Creek Community Foundation, and it was transferred to the City of Battle Creek three years later. It sat empty for another 14 years.
Restore269 has now redeveloped the building as a mixed-use space. Cody and Caitlynn Newman told us that Handmap Brewing is due to open soon on the first floor. Look for the brewery to open in late February or early March. The Newmans say they’ll have an open house then.
Collab BC has opened their technology office and shared work space last week on the second floor. The company does website design, and is offering companies needing office space a chance to rent their new facilities.
The Record Box Loft event space is on the third floor. They’ve already had holiday parties and the first wedding is this Saturday, January 18th. They also had many inquiries for events like showers, non-profit events, and are planning some of their own like “Yoga and Brunch”.