Beiger Mansion


Street Address: 317 Lincolnway East

National Registry #: 73000042

The Beiger Mansion has a rich history spanning over 100 years. Built by Martin Valentine and Susie Higgins Beiger, construction on the four and a half story neoclassical mansion began in 1903 and was completed in 1908. At 21,790 square feet it was the largest home in Mishawaka. It was also one of the most modern for its time. The mansion had electricity, radiator and forced air heating via a duct system, a dumb-waiter, and a central vacuum system with conduits in nearly every room. It also had a 3 manual Aeolian pipe organ costing $25,000 (over half a million today) to provide music for parties. The home originally had 3 kitchens, 3 dining rooms, a billiard room, a library, a music room, a ball room, 8 bed rooms, and the list goes on. Behind the home there was a tennis court and beneath it was built a one lane bowling alley and men's and women's locker rooms.

 

History

Martin Beiger founded the Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturing Company with his father in 1867. In 1886 M.V. Beiger and Adolphus Eberhart patented the first all knit wool boot that did not lose shape or shrink. With a black band and a red ball around the top, these boots gave the company its trademark; the Red Ball Band. Sales of the boot caused the company to explode in size. The company would go on to employ nearly 2000 people in 1903, 5,000 persons by 1923, and as many as 10,000 people in the 1940’s. It was eventually sold to US Rubber, then to Uniroyal.

On September 26th of 1903, just months after construction had started, Martin Beiger died of an infection from an operation for appendicitis at 56 years of age. Susie halted construction on the home for a time but later decided to continue. Martin and Susie, and later just Susie, toured the world to buy furnishings for the home. She sailed from America to Europe, Africa, The Holy Land, India, and China buying treasures to fill the home with. Susie lived in the mansion from 1909 until her death in 1927 at the age of 67.

Since the Beigers did not have any children Susie willed that her home be used as a home for the care of the elderly. She willed $210,000 of her $1.55 million dollar estate to a fund for the maintenance of the home and its furnishings. The Beiger Home for the Elderly was opened February 1st, 1930. The home was host to over 100 women in its time and remained a care facility until its operation was no longer financially viable, ceasing in 1967.

Beigers founded Mishawaka's East United Methodist Church and supported the building of the First United Methodist Church. They also established Beiger School.

(excerpted from the Beiger Mansion website, http://www.beigermansion.com)