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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Phoenix Furniture Co. Changes Name

The Phoenix Furniture Co., one of the landmarks in the Grand Rapids furniture industry, by action of the stockholders in the meeting Thursday, has changed its name to the Robert W. Irwin Furniture Co., has increased its capital from $250,000 preferred and $250,000 common stock to $700,000 preferred and $500,000 common, and has inaugurated a building and expansion program that will place it in a foremost position among the city’s great manufacturing enterprises.

Officers elected are: President, Robert W. Irwin; Vice-presidents, Dudley E. Waters and Earl S. Irwin; Treasurer, Charles H. Bender; Secretary, Ralph P. Tietsort; Directors, the officers and William A. Bowen, J.F. Lyon, J.L. Buchanan, and J Stuart Clingman.


Of the increased capitalization $250,000 preferred and $250,000 common will be exchanged share for share for the stock of the Royal Furniture Co., which for several years has been closely allied in stockholding interest with the Phoenix Co. and the transaction represents the physical merger of the two successful institutions under single control.

The increased capitalization also provide $100,000, 7 percent preferred stock, which will be offered to investors as a high grade industrial.


The general offices of the Robert W. Irwin Furniture Co. will be at the Phoenix, Summer Avenue and W. Fulton Street. The Royal Furniture Co. plant on upper Monroe Avenue, with 100,000 square feet of factory space will continue in operation, and the Royal line, one of the highest-grade lines of bedroom, dining room, and library furniture in the market will retain its distinctive features with its own staff of salesmen.

Identity of the Phoenix as to line and salesmen, in the same manner, will be maintained. The Royal working force of 350 employees will continue unchanged and in the same plant, and no changes are contemplated in the Phoenix working force of 650 employees.


The building and expansion program will be at the Phoenix plant. The present factory building is 400 x 60 feet, five stories, with one section dating back to 1872 when the old company was established by William A. Berkey. This building, solidly constructed and still serviceable but old-fashioned, will be retained in production until new and modern construction can be completed and then will be used for showroom and warehouse purposes.

From the north end of the present factory building on Summer Avenue a new steel sash, pier construction, modern, five-story daylight factory, 100 x 60 feet, will be built to the Grand Rapids & Indiana tracks. Attached to this along the railroad will be a two-story building, 150 feet to Winter Avenue and then south on Winter Avenue 200 feet to the frame construction factory building, formerly a sawmill, now in production as the cutting department. The frame building eventually will be removed and in its place the modern construction will extend to Fulton St.


The new two-story building will have foundations for five stories and additional stories will be added as needed. The factory will have unequalled shipping facilities with the Grand Rapids & Indiana on the north, the Pere Marquette, New York Central and Michigan Central on the Winter Ave. side, the Michigan railway about a block away, and the car-loading warehouse just across the tracks. It will have a modern power plant in the factory court, and across Fulton St., with tunnel connections, will be the dry kilns and lumber storage.


The company is executing a large contract for Aeolian phonograph cabinets and this work will be transferred to the factory on the south side of Fulton St. With the new buildings the Phoenix plant will increase its working force to 900 employees with a corresponding increase in production, and with the 350 employees at the Royal factory the Robert W. Irwin Co. will have upward of 1200 employees.

Excerpted from, Grand Rapids Press, January 23, 1920, page 1


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