0ne of the more significant producers of furniture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Indiana was known for the hickory-stick and Amish styles, not to mention the Wooton Cabinet Office Secretary, a desk that was all the rage in the Victorian era. The Showers Brothers Furniture Company of Bloomington , was hailed in its time as “The World’s Largest Furniture Factory,” producing sixty percent of all furniture made in the United States by the 1920′s. The company set up shop on Bloomington ‘s courthouse square in the 1860′s. William, James and Hull Showers took over the company from their cabinet-maker father Charles in 1868 so that he could resume his work as a Methodist minister.
After several relocations, Showers Brothers eventually occupied a seven-acre complex on Morton Street. The company distinguished itself in its hiring practices and employee benefits programs, and was exceptional in its hiring of African-Americans. Offered homeownership incentives by the company, many black employees came to settle Bloomington’s near-west side neighborhood, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The company’s main facility, a huge sawtooth-roofed structure built in 1910, sat dormant for a half-century after the company folded in the 1950s. After a restoration project in the 1990s, the building now houses Bloomington ‘s government offices as well as private firms and university departments.