Wells-Goodfellow #23, Leschen Wire Company

Update: I went back and revisited the site in the spring of 2021.

A giant factory came into view, across a vacant lot which seems to have been part of the company grounds.

The stunning Leschen Wire Rope Company, which later moved to St. Joseph and now seems to be largely defunct, once filled these buildings with hundreds of workers, if not thousands.

The buildings show the influence of the Beaux Arts, and demonstrate how even industrial complexes could be elegant.

The company published a book one hundred years ago about their business.

18 Comments Add yours

  1. CfR says:

    Those buildings are insanely long.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Which makes sense, since they made cable. There’s an old ropeworks preserved in Compton and Dry in Benton Park that consisted of a really, really long and slender building.

  2. Jay Engler says:

    Nice subject material. My great grandfather was John A. Leschen, one of the second generation (maybe third) brothers and cousins who ran the company during the boom years of western gold mining, national expansion, and WWI. He and his relatives built the then spectacular plant in your photographs to accommodate the manufacture of their patented Hercules Red Strand wire rope and related ancellary products. The first plant was in what is now Lacledes Landing. The world headquarters was in the vacant lot in your picture. The Leschens were very a prominent family and employer in the then St. Louis German community. They also built a street of houses for employees not far from the plant which still exist today. The company continued to prosper through WWII, sadly falling on bad times in the 1950s due to a slow in demand and competition. Takeover operator H K Porter then bought the company from the family, eventually shutting the plant and moving out of town. Ive been tempted to go and have a look at the old place, but am not wild about the neighborhood. Thanks for your pictures!

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Thanks for commenting, Jay! It’s always fun to hear from people whose families once owned these great institutions.

    2. Donna Huddleston says:

      Hi Jay,
      I just found a copy of “Engineering Record, Building Record and Sanitary Engineer” from 1916.
      E. F. Reagan, who had charge of construction of the Dickson Trust Bank Building in Richmond, Ind., is now with the James Stewart Company, with headquarters in St. Louis. He will have charge of building additions to the Leschen Rope Company’s plant. Mr. Reagan was graduated from Purdue University in 1907 and has been engaged in the construction of fireproof buildings since then.

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        Thanks, Donna!

    3. Charlie Tooley says:

      Would you happen to have any photos you could share with me of John and his family.
      Our daughter and family purchased the home he built in 1911 on Kingsbury.
      I am doing a history from newspapers and I have not found any photos.
      This is purely a private endeavor.

    4. Charlie Tooley says:

      I have lots of researched information on the company. My daughter & family bought his house at 20 Kingsbury Place and have been restoring it. Johns father, Adolph Leschen was the founder of the A.Leschen & Sons Wire Rope Company the same year John was born. They helped in the Civil War and gained prominence nationally. I am doing a personal history on the house, a bit about the original family, etc. you may be interested in what Ive collected. The family crest is still engraved on the fireplace in the house.

      1. RON SCHMIERMUND says:

        I have a strong interest in one of Leschen & Sons more remarkable projects, the 16-mile tramway in Encampment, Wyoming (ca., 1904). Are you aware of any as-built designs or other archival records? I’m working with a local museum that would love to have copies of them.

      2. Jay Engler says:

        Hello Charlie, I have a great John A Leschen family group photo you are welcome to. Did your daughter purchase the house from the Holthaus family? I gave them a small picture of John A for the house years ago. Feel free to contact me at jengler@sbcglobal.net

      3. Ted Engler says:

        Hi Charley, I have an 18 page history of the Leschens and A. Leschen and Sons Rope Company. Also, perhaps, some photos that Jay did not have. Contact me at ted@worksafeproducts.com if you are interested.

  3. jack thomas says:

    I used to spend a lot of time in one of the Leschen house’s on Kennerly, 5900 block. Grandparents rented one until the 50s.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Oh, did they have company-owned houses for workers? I’m really interested in hearing about this! Do you see your grandparents’s home in this post?

      1. jack thomas says:

        The houses you show were across the street on the south side of Kennerly. On the North side was the Lechen headquarters and offices for most of the block but there were I think five houses. My grandparents were not Lechen employees, but I remember then talking about when these houses were occupied by Lechen management folks. My earliest memories go back to mid 1940s. My parents lived on the 5900 block of Wabada. Just a few blocks south of Kennerly.


        1. Chris Naffziger says:

          Are those five houses you reference the ones in the bottom photos in this post?

  4. jack thomas says:

    Looks like they are. My Grandparents would have been between the two shown in that photo.
    Jack Thomas

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Thank you. It’s sad to see how those houses are slowly disappearing, one by one.

  5. 1927 photos of interior and exterior for sale here

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