Home > Old School Picture of the Week > Wayne Paper Box c. 1953

Wayne Paper Box c. 1953

By Randy Harter

Fort Wayne Reader

2018-06-14


The photographer of this historic image was standing at the intersection of Columbia and Calhoun looking north down Calhoun to Superior Street. Were this photograph replicated today, 80% of the camera’s view would be filled with the Norfolk Southern track elevation that now runs through downtown. As for this image, the tracks are running at street level at about where the second (northernmost) automobile is shown.

Prominent in this photo is the Wayne Paper Box factory which still stands today at the northwest corner of Superior and Calhoun. Founded as Fort Wayne Paper Box Company by Andrew Burry and Joel Welty in 1897 and incorporated the next year (1898) as Wayne Paper Box & Printing, it would later become Wayne Paper Box Corp. Its early customers included the locally owned Jenny Electric Co., Fox Candy and Wayne Knitting Mills. The company made a variety of paper
products including folding corrugated boxes, gift boxes, mailing tubes, stationery, calendars and even postcards (many of which depicted Fort Wayne scenes). Additionally, the company was comprised of the Hoosier Press division (which printed the still much sought-after 1926 leather-bound 790 page tome “Builders of a Greater Fort Wayne”), and Fort Wayne Engraving division, whose 1929 Craftsman Style building still stands at 120 W. Superior just west of the pictured
factory. That building is owner occupied by longtime local advertising agency, Boyden & Youngblutt.

Wayne Paper Box Corp. was sold to Container Corporation of America (CCA) in 1956. CCA later became a subsidiary of Mobil Oil, which sold the CCA division in 1986 to Jefferson-Smurfit, which became Smurfit-Stone Container in 1998. The local plant further changed hands becoming part of Altivity Packaging in 2006, and was acquired by Graphic Packaging Holdings in 2008 who then closed the plant in 2010.

The Wayne Box complex was constructed in two phases with the section nearest the corner in 1904 and the section to the west of that in 1923.

Now the combined buildings, after having sat empty for a number of years, are in the final phases of undergoing a $9.8 million renovation, which will make it the first private development project to be completed in the new Riverfront Fort Wayne district. RealAmerica, LLC of Fishers, IN, the same company that undertook the Randall Lofts project at Harrison and Pearl in 2013, say their new Superior Lofts living units are to be completed and ready for tenant occupancy within 60 days. They are nearly finished converting the former Wayne Paper Box into 72 loft-style apartments in addition to having 21,000 square feet of commercial space available on the first floor. While the
renting of the lofts has not yet begun, a waiting list is being maintained with viewing and leasing to begin shortly.

(Image courtesy of ACPL)
Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne Historian, author of two books on local history, and the history/architecture guide for
FortWayneFoodTours.com

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