Minnetrista Blogs

Baur Window Glass

Emil Baur started the Baur Window Glass Company in Eaton in 1897.  The factory was located just east of the Standard Washboard factory, bounded by Perry Street on the west (known today as Meridian) and Washington Street on the south.

Baur, an emigrant from Switzerland, had come to Eaton a few years prior from Toledo, Ohio, and was involved in numerous business ventures in both Indiana and Ohio. Locally, he held interests in Standard Washboard, Eaton Manufacturing Company, Baur Lumber Company, and at one point owned forty-four town lots.

The announcement of the establishment of the window glass company included details about the size of the three buildings to be constructed:  100 x 151 feet, 100 x 140, and 140 x 200.  It was estimated that a rail spur to the factory would carry eighty cars of material a day and that the factory would employ 120 people.

Although in existence for nearly two decades, the company had varied success.  The Elwood Daily Record reported in 1898 that the plant was on strike because a flattener had been fired.  In 1900 it was reported that the plant would be running two shifts every day with ten shops open – a full capacity operation.  1901 saw an overall drop in the price of window glass due to competition from companies not part of an industry “combination”.

In March 1903 workmen leaving for lunch left a high flow of gas turned on in the glass furnace resulting in a fire that destroyed the flattening and cutting rooms, boxing, and engine areas.  The loss was partially covered by insurance.  By 1905 the natural gas supply had declined, the market conditions were poor, there was trouble with labor unions, company funds ran low, and so the plant was shut down.

Price wars and industry shutdowns caused a lot of problems in the window glass industry in 1907.  Baur did reopen the factory and promised not to close it unless the other members of the National Brokerage association all shut down.  The plant was switched over to run the furnaces on coal gas and so was better equipped than many to run at near capacity.

In 1910 the plant was doing a brisk business.  Family members were running the operation because Emil Baur had moved to Kansas to pursue business interests there.  The next year, though, Baur’s were considering relocation or selling to another glass manufacturer.

In 1917 the 100 foot long producer tunnel was advertised for sale in the National Glass Budget.  The following year, the producers were dismantled by workers from Skillen-Gooden Glass Company in Yorktown.  The brick was used to enlarge the producers at Skillen-Gooden.  However, the company was still operating in 1920, noted by a mention in the newspaper of the company taking on extra help due to “the excess rush in business.

It is unclear when Baur Window Glass actually closed permanently.  The 1929-1930 city directory appears to be the last time it was listed as an active business.  Today the location is the site of the town’s water tower, a baseball diamond, and the track north of the elementary school.