Singer Manufacturing Company

In 1868 the Singer Manufacturing Company built a cabinet factory in South Bend, taking advantage of the large area of hardwood trees to make cabinet cases for their sewing machines. At first they settled along the river in the East Race area, between Madison and St. Joseph Streets, and Niles Avenue. but in 1901 they moved to the western part of the city, between Western Avenue and the railroad tracks, Walnut Street and Olive Street. At that time they had the largest cabinet factory in the world and employed over 3000 people. Many Poles and Hungarians worked here. Many of the Polish lived in the area on both sides of Western Avenue from Sample Street to Washington Blvd. and roughly from Chapin Street to west of Meade Street. The company continued to make cabinets in South Bend until increased competition and old factory buildings created financial troubles. In 1954 the company left South Bend and in the 1960's after a fire, several of the buildings were torn down for urban renewal projects.

Aerial view of the Singer Plant.


All that is left of the 76 acre site that once included a foundry, drying kilns, cabinetry buildings and incinerators.






Hey, I found a way inside. Window details from the east side of the building, towards the north end.





The north wall of the building. Faded Singer advertising at the top of the wall. The Conrail tracks are about 50 yards north of this location.






Left: The west side of the building. Newer buildings lie between this building and Olive Street. The plant once extended to Olive Street. Right: The rail lead into the former Singer Plant. The picture was taken from the Norfork Southern tracks north of the plant.

Here is a rare find. Pictured is electric locomotive #1, Singer Manufacturing Company. This is the only railroad engine the company owned and operated inside the plant. Courtsey Jeff Strombeck.






Singer Company Railroad locomotive. Left: Look at the Singer Company Electric locomotive and the yard operations. The building pictured is still standing and is pictured above. The Singer Company sign is worn and faded, but it can still be seen. Right: Closer look at the locomotive. These photos are courtesy of Kevin Byrne, Washington DC Firefighter, from his private collection.


While paying a visit to the Indiana Transportation Museum in Nobleville, Indiana to see a restored Monon SW-1 operate on the museum trackage, I discovered that the former Singer electric locomotive is on display. I was informed by members of the museum that the locomotive one time operated on the museum's electric line.


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