Friday, September 25, 2015

Royal Enfield North America: Where in Milwaukee?

Here's how Royal Enfield's new U.S. headquarters looked in 1929.
Royal Enfield blogger Jorge Pullin is justly known for his then-and-now features showing, for instance, how the former sites of Royal Enfield factories in Britain look today.

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.
Referred to as the "Jerry Mitchell Leather" building, it is said to have basement parking for 20 cars. Mitchell Leather used the building as its factory and retail store for high end leather wallets, bags and watch bands. Mitchell Leather was founded in 1968, but the building is much older.

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.



    I wonder if this is where Sillingford and Son's use to be? anyone?

  2. Anonymous9/25/2015

    Notice that I-94 and I-794 are adjacent. Let's see if they put bikes in their showroom worthy of those US Interstate highways and not relegated to the secondary roads


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