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Brown Shoe Factory, Murphysboro, IL

Credit these photos to Mugen_1

UPDATE DEC 2012 BELOW - Credit to Mugen_1

Brown Shoe first located in Murphysboro on May 16th, 1907, and was just a one floor building. In 1919, a second floor was added, was ripped off by the infamous 1929 tri-state tornado, and rebuilt soon after. A third floor was added in 1939. A steam whistle blew several times a day to wake the workers, signal lunches and breaks, and to conclude the working day. 

Production peaked in the '50s and '60s, and Brown Shoe was employing over 600 people. The plant was famous for making "Buster Brown" shoes. They also produced gloves.

Operations were moved to a one-story, 51,000 square foot structure on the south end of town in 1965, and finally closed for good in 1976.

Currently, the building is home to Egyptian Manufacturing, producers of aluminum siding and awnings. Also in the building is a business that creates artificial foliage for zoos, and a taxidermist.

The ground floor is a total mess, as can be seen in the pictures. The ancient freight elevator still runs up and down between floors, and the second floor is where most of the manufacturing happens (although to be honest, it's absolutely in pitiful shape and will more than likely go out of business soon, as like three people work there). The third floor is in the worst shape of them all, and you can clearly see daylight through the numerous holes in the roof. The receptionist who took me and a couple of my friends through the facility would not allows us off the elevator on the top floor for fear of falling through.

The power rooms, where the boilers are, are by far the most intriguing part of this place. Words cannot describe how surreal it was encountering them. (We were told not to go in that part by the receptionist, but the taxidermist told us to go for it). It was haunting to say the least, knowing how many people were employed here at one time.

The water tower next to the smokestack no longer stands as of two weeks after these pictures were taken. It was estimated that about $4000 in scrap metal existed in it. A bunch of drunk rednecks were trying to pull it over with a truck, and flipped their truck in the process. After assuming the tower would no longer budge, and decided to call it a night, the tower fell over on it's own power, and well, fell on a power line and blew two transformers and cut power to half the town. I missed having it on video by literally two seconds. I don't believe any citations were issued, but the cost to pay the electric company for repairs almost negated any monetary value the scrap contained.

The smokestack still stands strong, though crumbling a bit at the top, looming over the town as a reminder of the once prosperous times my town once had.


UPDATE DEC 2012 by Mugen_1:

It's been a long time, but there was recently a drastic change to this building, so I'm going to show it to you.

Severe winds toppled an exterior wall of this factory two days ago. The entire roof had caved in years earlier, warranting it impossible to venture inside anymore. The floors have now all collapsed to the ground for the most part, making what you see basically a shell. A small taxidermy business continues to operate in the newer section, untouched by this damage.

See that red elevator door? I had been on it when it was active a few years ago. Shot #18 from the initial post shows what I saw when looking FROM the elevator.

(view from a few blocks away)

The south side was largely unaffected by the wind.

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