The Woolen Mill (top picture), was located "between Bloomington and Normal (Illinois)", just south of Sugar Creek on Franklin Avenue at Sill Street (now Virginia Avenue). The mill purchased wool from local sheep growers, dyed the wool, spun it into yarn and wove it into a variety of products. In 1874 it employed twenty workers.
In business from 1870 until the early 1890's the mill was owned by a number of individuals. Around 1876, Charles Hitch became part owner with J. Rouse. In 1884 he became the sole owner.
The business stayed in the Hitch Family until 1890 when Allison Hitch opened the Woolen Mill store (middle picture) at 408 North Main Street in Bloomington. It served as a retail outlet for the mill. Shortly thereafter, he sold the mill to Owen T. Reeves. For unknown reasons the mill was closed by 1893. The Woolen Mill store remained in the family until 1940-41 when Fred Hitch sold the business to F.J. McElroy.
The Woolen Mill store was a longtime downtown Bloomington business, remaining there until it closed in 1974.
- Source: mchistory.org
The late F.J. McElroy is my grandfather. I made many visits to the Woolen Mill store and later worked at my grandfathers mail order business in the offices above.
The original mill (top right) no longer existed in town when I lived there (or at least not to my knowledge). The middle picture is an undated picture of the Woolen Mill Store -- possibly near the time it was opened. The bottom right picture was a picture of the Woolen Mill Store building in 2003 (I digitally added the Woolen Mill name to the picture as it was an optical store at the time).
Of all the memorabilia that survived through the years one of those that I value is the Woolen Mill Store statement. Note there is no zip code and phone numbers were 5 digits.
The Woolen Mill Studio website is named in honor of my family's part in the Woolen Mill legacy.
Woolen Mill Store Statement (pre Zip Codes) Woolen Mill Store Ad dated Feb 26, 1917