Red Cross Seeks Conservation Help

The Red Cross Evansville-Wabash Valley Regional Office is very fortunate to have 17 original Karl K. Knecht ink sketches on display. Knecht went to work as the cartoonist at the Evansville Courier where his first cartoon appeared in September 1906. In addition to drawing cartoons for the paper, Knecht became staff photographer in 1917 when the newspaper bought its first camera and also wrote columns and reviews. His “Say, Kay! What of Folks, Shows, Animals N’ Such” column appeared weekly from 1919 until 1954. Knecht was named director of the paper and served as vice president from 1952 to 1960. For most of Knecht’s career, his cartoons appeared seven days a week on the front page until 1954 when they were moved to the editorial page. Knecht worked for the Courier for so long that he came to be known as the “dean of editorial cartoonists”.

Knecht was also involved with the circus. He helped organize the Circus Fans Association in 1925 and was both secretary-treasurer and president of that organization and produced its magazine, White Tops. He also helped found the Mesker Zoo in Evansville after he was given a pair of lions in the late 1920s.

Knecht was a member of Sigma Delta Chi and also a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. In 1953, Knecht received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Evansville College and July 22, 1954 was proclaimed Karl Kae Knecht Day in Evansville, Indiana. He was also a supporter of numerous charitable causes and would at times use his cartoons to bring attention to these causes, with one them being the American Red Cross. His cartoons are in collections of presidential libraries for Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. He also has a very large display at the University of Evansville.

Recently, the Red Cross had two volunteers help repair a number of pictures frames. Through those efforts the Red Cross learned that the Knecht Collection did not have any conservation framing, which was resulting in the pieces deteriorating. The Red Cross is interested in finding an organization or individual who could sponsor its efforts to preserve his work. A local frame shop has offered a discounted rate to do the work, which would include new rag single mats, conservation clear glass, rag backing, dissembling them, fitting and leveling hangers.

You are invited to assist the Red Cross in its effort to preserve an important part of the history of the Evansville community. The quote with discount was $1,566.32. The Red Cross is hoping to secure funding for $1,700 so that it can create a small plaque that explains Karl K. Knetch’s relationship and passion for the American Red Cross and the Evansville community that could be put on display with his collection.

A. F. Horn Box Factory

A vacant Atlas Box today
A vacant Atlas Box today at 201 Pennsylvania Ave

Albert F Horn established his box company around 1910 making cigar boxes.  After a fire destroyed his previous plant, Horn constructed this building in 1912 at the corner of Garfield St and Division St and opened shop.

Article from Sept 22, 1912 Courier
Article from Sept 22, 1912 Courier

It was in 1919 when Albert’s son took over the company and renamed it the Atlas Box Company.  A two-story brick addition was built in 1930 giving the building its “L” shape.

Addition built 1930
Addition built 1930

Atlas Box Co was bought out by one of the nation’s leading manufacturers Autokraft. The business was relocated, but the property was not included in the sale and was leased out. It was later purchased by Ian Lockhart whose signature was retrofitting the old windows with decorative concrete block.

Charles Pike purchased Superior Mattress and all its supplies and equipment from Waterbury, CT in 1959. The family proceeded to move the entire factory to Evansville, IN and founded Superior Mattress Co in the old Atlas Box factory. When they started their business in January 1960, there were still some cigar boxes in the building.

Mr and Mrs Charles Pike owners
Mr and Mrs Charles Pike owners
Superior Mattress ad 1988
Superior Mattress ad 1988

Superior Mattress went bankrupt and Pike sold the building in 1989. It has since been an auction house and a private club (likely when the eyes were painted on the windows).  The current owners of the building abandoned it, and it is falling apart.  The roof has collapsed in and the building is no longer safe to enter.

Rear view see some graffiti and crumblin brick where roof has collapsed
Rear view showing some graffiti and crumbling brick where roof has collapsed

Relatives of the Pike family opened the Mattress Factory showroom in 1990 in the building next door. The large brick building at 213 W Division St was originally part of the Advanced Stove Works complex, but we’ll save that for another article. A distribution center established in 2006 was named Superior Mattress in honor of Charles

Some parts and pictures credit Superior Mattress and Alice Ling (Charles Pike’s niece)

R. E. Nunley Truck Terminal

R E Nunley built his truck terminal warehouse on Franklin St in 1935 for his growing transfer company.  The new store which opened June 13, 1935 also boasted a retail food market, a sandwich shop, and a barber.  The company specialized in moving and storage would soon outgrow this facility and relocate.  It would later become Nunley-Gardner Transfer Co on Fulton Ave.

New Nunley Terminal Warehouse
New Nunley Terminal Warehouse

Southern Indiana Beverage Co established its home in the old warehouse around 1938.  They were beer distributors that served the area after Prohibition.  The company was later succeded by Vanco Beverage Co and was for a while the only distributor approved by the newly formed Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC).  It should surprise no one that beer sales, so much that Vanco needed a larger facility.  The company moved to Fulton Ave in what we believe was the old Crazy Larry’s where the new Cedar Hall now stands.

Vanco Beverage 1946 (courtesy of Donahue Collection)
Vanco Beverage 1946 (photo courtesy of Donahue Collection)

After Vanco’s stint in the warehouse, Syl Lutterbach opened his beer and wine retail business.  What make this interesting is he opened a drive-in tavern where users could get beer to go, akin to what’s still in Texas today.  One issue was that it was totally illegal, and he was forced shut down the drive through once the ABC caught wind of it.  Lutterbach was however allowed to operate his business but as a retailer only.

Syl's Drive In Beer Depot - why was this a bad idea?
Ad for Syl’s Drive In Beer Depot – why was this a bad idea?

In recent years the truck terminal has served a variety of concerns, but is currently operating as A & S Electrical Service

A & S Electrical Service
Still standing tall, now as A & S Electrical Service