IXL Historical Museum

IXL Historical Museum is located in Michigan
The IXL Historical Museum is a historic office building, residence, and museum complex in Hermansville, Michigan, United States. The main building was constructed as the headquarters for the Wisconsin Land & Lumber Company before it became a museum. The museum was organized in 1982,[4] and the main building, also known as the Wisconsin Land and Lumber Company Office, was deignated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1973[3] and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.[1]

The building was the original office and headquarters for the Wisconsin Land & Lumber Company,[5] a company founded by German-born cabinetmaker Charles J. L. Meyer.[6] In the mid 19th century, Meyer had established a factory in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin making wooden sashes, doors, and blinds.[6] In 1878, to acquire pine for his factory, Meyer began buying land in Menominee County, Michigan. In 1881-1882, Meyer moved company operations out of Fond du Lac into Michigan, and built the company's headquarters at the current site in Hermansville.[5][7] Meyer continued purchasing land, and eventually the company owned nearly 100,000 acres (400 km2) spread out over eight counties.[6]

However, the company had overextended itself, and in 1890 the tightening credit market and reduction in sales forced Meyer to sell some of the company's assets.[6] Most of the pine had been cut on Wisconsin Land & Lumber's holdings, and the company was forced to begin producing hardwood flooring.[7] Wisconsin Land & Lumber is particularly notable for the firm's early interest in using hardwoods and for its development of machinery used to make flooring.[3] The firm's flooring was called "IXL,"[6] a derivative of the words "I excel" which was the company's philosophy about the superior quality of their product.[8] Every piece of flooring was stamped with the letters "IXL" inside a circle.[7]

Unfortunately, the introduction of hardwood flooring was not an immediate success, and the company began falling apart.[6] At the same time, Meyer suffered a brain hemorrhage from a riding accident which left him confused and unable to cope with running the company.[6] Meyer's son-in-law, Dr. George Washington Earle, took over operation of the company.[6]

George Washington Earle was born in Truxton, New York in 1849.[9] In 1851, his family moved to Huntley, Illinois, and when he was only ten years old Gerge left home on his own.[9] He hired out on a Wisconsin farm owned by Dr. Rollin S. Wooster in 1860, and in 1863 moved with Wooster to Iowa.[9] Earle attended school, and eventually acquired enough education that he became a schoolteacher.[9] However, he was unsatisfied, and in 1868 returned to New York and began doing piecework in a sash and door factory, continuing until he had saved enough money to attend medical college.[9]

In 1872, Earle gradualted from Buffalo Medical College, receiving his diploma from Millard Fillmore. He moved to Tully, New York, and began a medical practice, which over the next 17 years he built into a large and prosperous business.[9] In 1886, Earle took a months-long trip to Europe, where he met Emma Meyer, Charles Meyer's daughter.[9] They were married in 1888, and in 1889 Earle decided to retire from the rigors of practicing medicine, and moved with his wife to Michigan.[9] Earle invested a considerable amount of his savings in his father-in-law's business, and was made a vice-president of Wisconsin Land & Lumber only months before the 1890 financial crash.[9] With the other directors unable or unwilling to steer the company, the crash and Meyer's incapacitation forced Earle to take over the company's operations.[9]

Earle renegotiated with the company's creditors, raised new loans, and cut expenses to keep the company afloat.[6] He bought up some of the company's debt personally and reorganized the business.[9] Earle also promoted the company's IXL maple flooring,[6] just in time for an upswing in demand.[10] Wisconsin Land & Lumber developed a tongue in groove process which led to the company being the United States' largest hardwood floor producer at one time.[8] The IXL logo became an industry benchmark, with architects specifying "IXL or equivalent" in contracts.[6]

With the increase in demand for hardwood flooring, the company prospered.[10] The last of the company's debt was finally retired in 1910.[6] When timbered land became too expensive to purchase, Earle began buying logs from small jobbers.[10] Earle remained at the helm of the company until his death in 1923, when control passed to his two sons, G. Harold and Stewart Prescott Earle.[10] The site in Hermansville remained the firm's headquarters until the death of the last of Meyer's grandsons in 1978.[3]

This page was last edited on 10 November 2017, at 14:13 (UTC).
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IXL_Historical_Museum under CC BY-SA license.

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