|Here's how Royal Enfield's new U.S. headquarters looked in 1929.|
I've always wanted to try doing this.
Royal Enfield North America recently revealed that its headquarters and flagship U.S. dealership will be located at 226 N. Water St., Milwaukee, Wis.
"I live here, so I am biased. But in my mind, Milwaukee is kind of the center of motorcycling in the United States," Royal Enfield North America president Rod Copes told the Milwaukee Journal.
"We view this as kind of our first flagship dealership," he said. It will be Royal Enfield's first company-owned store in the United States.
The address turns out to be a 100-year-old four-story concrete building in Milwaukee's historic downtown. It is faced with Cream City bricks, themselves a famous Milwaukee product.
|And here, from Google Earth, is how 226 N. Water St. looks, circa 2015.|
According to the Historic Third Ward Walking Tour, 226 N. Water St. was designed by Schnetzky & Son in 1914 as a factory for Patek Brothers, a high-grade paint, oil and glass company. The building was described in 1922 as a "thoroughly modern" and "up-to-date" factory.
Founded in 1895, by 1929 Patek Brothers was supplying not only paints but glass as well, including for automobile windshields. A Milwaukee Journal article found Patek Brothers still at this address as late as 1961.
Comparing the 1929 drawing I found to Google Street View, the building appears little changed. Notice that the artist who drew the 1929 sketch decorated it with tiny cars and people in front of the building, making it look much larger and far more grand than it really is.
Water Street itself is historic. Henry Vieau, Milwaukee's first white settler, built his cabin on the property that would become the corner of Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue in the early 1800s.
Royal Enfield North America's headquarters and store should be open by late 2015 or early next spring. Here's a map, in case you'd like to visit.