Henderson Fortune has Ties in Secret Societies
Now a unique bed and breakfast and posh restaurant atop West Main Hill, Henderson Castle was the exclusive residence of Frank Henderson from 1895 until his death in 1899. Certainly not humble nor austere, the castle stood as a symbol of the wealth the Henderson name had acquired over many years. But how did Henderson build his empire? Turns out some of his money came from secret societies...
Starting in the saddle business, Frank Henderson expanded his empire to include uniforms and regalia, and in 1893, he partnered with the Ames Sword Company in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The Henderson-Ames Company was nearly peerless in providing uniforms and decorative armaments for lodges, secret societies like the Freemasons, and other social organizations for forty years. The company even earned an award at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago for excellence in quality and design.
Unfortunately, shortly after Frank Henderson's death in 1899, some controversy arose following the Spanish-American War. Henderson-Ames Company was caught in a scandal of purchasing unused uniforms, altering them slightly, and then selling them back to the State of Michigan at full price. This mar on the company's good name did not stop them from becoming a predominant supplier or uniforms for World War I. However following that war, in 1933, Henderson-Ames merged with another uniform company out of Ohio, and ceased operations in Kalamazoo.
To this day many items designed and manufactured by Henderson-Ames Company are seen as highly collectible, including uniforms, ceremonial swords, and emblems for fraternal organizations and secret societies.