Simmons Hardware Company Warehouse

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Simmons Hardware Company Warehouse
Simmons Hardware Warehouse (Sioux City) from SE 2.JPG
Simmons Hardware Company Warehouse is located in Iowa
Simmons Hardware Company Warehouse
Location 323 Water St, Sioux City, Iowa
Coordinates 42°29′35″N 96°24′34″W / 42.49306°N 96.40944°W / 42.49306; -96.40944Coordinates: 42°29′35″N 96°24′34″W / 42.49306°N 96.40944°W / 42.49306; -96.40944
Built 1905 (1905)
Built by Gilberth, Frank B.
Architect Gordon, Tracy & Swartwout
Architectural style Romanesque Revival
NRHP Reference # 08000332[1]
Added to NRHP April 25, 2008

The Simmons Hardware Company Warehouse, also known as the Battery Building,[2] is a historic warehouse located in Sioux City, Iowa that is on the National Register of Historic Places.[1] The six storey building covered a whole block and its construction was supervised by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr., the time and motion study pioneer.


The building was designed in 1905 for the Simmons Hardware Company of St. Louis to allow the rapid delivery and dispatch of their hardware products.. The design is said to be influenced by the Marshall Field's Wholesale Store in Chicago which was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1887. The Simmons company used the New York company of Gordon, Tracy and Swartwout to do their design. The developer was the unusual Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr.,[3] who became famous for being the central character in the book "Cheaper By The Dozen. He used his Time and motion study ideas[4] to further improve the efficiency of the building as he supervised its development.[3]

Building during construction in 1906[5]

The architects specified that hundreds of 20-foot (6.1 m) hardened concrete piles were to be driven in to allow the soft ground to take the weight of the (estimated) two million bricks required to construct the building. Whilst the building was being built a sixth floor and other changes were made to the design. The bricks alone would have required over 250 railway cars to transport them and another 450 cars were also required to transport other building materials. The railway cars were of course easy to source as the building had its own railroad switching facilities.[3]

Simmons Hardware Company Building in Sioux City in 1917

The 123-foot (37 m) clock tower was designed to and would become an important landmark. The building was intended to be an "ornament" and the tower was intended to convey importance and the 12 numbers on the clockface were intended to be replaced by the letters T-R-O-Q-R-L-A-T-P-I-F. This abbreviation was to signify the Simmons motto which was "The recollection of quality remains long after the price is forgotten."[3]

The company was the first to establish a nationwide brand for hardware which they supplied via warehouses in six states across America. Other warehouses were in New York, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and a four storey building in Wichita, Kansas. The warehouse's stock consisted of many items, including ammunition, knives, wires, and even dog collars. The company said that, "If you can't eat it, and it don't pour or fold, it's hardware". Salesmen were not only employed to sell all products, but they also had specialist salespeople.[6]

The company had used an aggressive system of business where it aimed to buy up its suppliers so that it had the choice of best machinery and they could give priority to their needs. In the 1920 the Winchester Repeating Arms Company decided to diversify include knives and hardware. They bought companies and also merged with the Simmons Hardware Company. During the 1920s this warehouse would have been at the disposal of the merged Winchester and Simmons company. The Winchester and Keen Kutter brands did good business during the 1920s but in 1929 they agreed to separate and Simmons and this building returned to their core business.[7]

The Keen Kutter tools that were stored and sold from this warehouse are now collectibles. The contemporary book Keen Kutter Planes lists over 800 items from the brand.[8]

After hardware[edit]

There were multiple owners of the warehouse throughout the years. It was owned by the Kollman-Warner Seed Company in 1939, the Sioux City Battery Corporation in 1944. The retail company Bomgaars owned the building in 1973 and used it as warehouse and for their corporate offices.[2][9]

The Bomgaar headquarters moved out in 2005 and in 2007, it was planned that the warehouse to be replaced with condominiums, offices, and a restaurant. The project would have been completed with a $10.5 million budget. The owners, Roger and Jane Bomgaars who owned the retail chain Bomgaars, partnered with developers from Omaha, Nebraska with plans to complete the restoration. The plans required the authorities to grant additional tax breaks and to make land available for parking.[10]

In 2013, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino announced new plans to open a Sioux City location, situating a hotel within the former Battery Building and a new casino adjoining the historic brick building.[11]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Sioux City's Battery Building: A history". Sioux City Journal. April 18, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Historic Battery Building". Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Perkins, James S. (1997). "Frank B. Gilbreth’s Research: The Quest of the One Best Way". Newsletter of the Gilbreth Network 1 (2). Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  5. ^ from the Sioux City Journal, September 16, 1906
  6. ^ A. Friedman, Walter (2009). Birth of a Salesman: The Transformation of Selling in America. Harvard University Press. p. 74. ISBN 9780674037342. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  7. ^ Shackleford, edited by Steve (2010). Blade's guide to knives & their values (7th ed. ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications. p. 148. ISBN 1440203873. 
  8. ^ "Keen Kutter Planes". Astragal Press. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Was the Battery Building ever called something else? -- North Sioux City". Sioux City Journal. July 14, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ Dreeszen, Dave (April 1, 2007). "New life awaits Battery Building". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ Dreeszen, Dave (January 25, 2013). "Hard Rock developers give local preservationalists tour of Battery". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved July 17, 2013.