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Amazon Building (Amazon Knitting Mill, Amazon Hosiery Mill)

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Amazon Knitting Mill, Amazon Hosiery Mill
1895; 1899 addition; 2000 rehabilitation. 530–550 W. Western Ave.

The Amazon Hosiery Company was one of several businesses enticed to Muskegon between 1895 and 1905 by the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce's cash incentive program. The Amazon Hosiery Mill, under the presidency of George W. Powell, was brought in 1895 to Muskegon from Michigan City, Indiana, with a $5,000 subsidy and a free building site from the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce. In exchange, Powell agreed to employ from 500 to 600 local workers. During the economic downturn in 1897, the firm was caught short in liquid assets and was on the verge of bankruptcy. To provide ready cash, Charles H. Hackley and his partner, Thomas Hume, bought the firm, changing its name from Amazon Hosiery to Amazon Knitting Company. By 1899 the company's condition improved, and the addition to the structure was made. Hackley and Hume also sold their interest back to the previous owners, once those owners were able to reacquire it.

The mill is made up of two sections: the one-story brick building erected in 1895, which has a two-story hipped-roof tower at the juncture of two one-story wings; and the larger, four-story, U-shaped building with corner towers, added in 1899. The twin towers resembling Italian Romanesque or Lombard campaniles rise over the northeast and southeast corners of the building in a signal of corporate power. Both hold water tanks that fed the building's fire sprinkler system; the southernmost tower has a clock.

After housing light industry and commercial activities in the late twentieth century, the building was included in a Renaissance Zone designated by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. This designation and creative development financing enabled in 2000 a rehabilitation project that transformed the Amazon Building into 118 loft apartments and residential units.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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