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Business history: Collins and Burgie Stove factory fire in Marengo

Published: Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The Collins and Burgie Stove Company of Marengo was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of Oct. 5, 1907. The factory was established in Chicago in 1857. It made and sold the Leader line of stoves and ranges. It was considered one of the oldest and best companies in the country. A group of Marengo businessmen, with the intention of developing the city’s industrial base, formed the Marengo Improvements Syndicate. They purchased the stove works and moved the entire operation to Marengo. The new factory, on East Street, opened in 1892. To accommodate the 200 workers who would accompany the move and anticipating a work force of 400 in the future, the Syndicate acquired land. They advertised widely the availability of building lots “fronting on beautiful streets and avenues.” The factory, in its peak years of 1901-02, made 100 stoves a day and employed about 225 men. It never reached the projected force of 400. Damage from the fire of 1907 was extensive, less than half of which was covered by insurance, and the factory was never reopened.

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