September 26, 2018
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On the Corner

Downtown structure has seen many changes
The General Cigar Building has called the spot in Downtown home since the 1800s.

Usually referred to as the General Cigar Building, the four-story brick building at the corner of Second and Court streets serves as the home of Tucker Publishing Group, the Girl Scouts of Southwestern Indiana, Lieberman Technologies, and Home Instead. The current building was completed in 1923, and housed the General Cigar Company until the 1950s.

The first substantial building on the site was a hotel opened in 1873. Known as the Allen House, the three-story building with French Second Empire influence served as a hotel for businessmen for most of the next decade. After being sold on tax sale in 1876, the building briefly became the Guild Hall for the Evansville Cooperative Guild movement, before reverting back to a hotel. In 1882, the building was transformed into a hospital by the Evansville City Hospital Association.

In 1895, the building became the home of the Evansville Manufacturer’s Building Association. When they sold the building in 1904, it was converted into a factory by the Crescent City, later Indiana Shoe Company. After a fire in 1905, the building was enlarged north along Court Street. The shoe company was replaced in 1910 by the Hohenstein & Hartmetz Furniture factory, which was the final business in the original building.

In 1922, the first structure was demolished and a new one erected. There is a question as to whether the addition made by the Indiana Shoe Company became a part of the new building. There is a clear break in the brick wall along Court Street, with a variation in brick color and window styles. The corner of the building at Second and Court streets also shows more decoration than the building on the other side of the break.

When General Cigar opened, it was one of a number of Evansville cigar factories that remained in business into the early 1960s. These were among the few industries whose employees were almost exclusively women. In 1950, General Cigar closed their factory and sold the building to Pro-Tex-All chemical supplies. Since the sale of the building in 1981, a number of owners with a variety of businesses continue to occupy the building.

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