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Shoop goes down in history

Office complex originally housed patent medicine business

by joe hanneman

When it is lighted at night, the Shoop Building stands as one of the most stark symbols of Racine's Downtown, and of its history.

Journal Times readers and a panel of judges voted the Shoop, 222 Main St., the best private building in the county.

The Shoop ran neck-and-neck with such notables at the S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. tower on Howe Street, the Johnson Foundation's Wingspread complex in Wind Point, the Golden Rondelle theater, also on Howe, and the Lakeshore Towers on Racine's lakefront.

The Shoop Building has a rich history, spanning from original construction in 1893 to its renovation into an office complex in 1986 by a subsidiary of Johnson Wax.

Johnson Wax Development Corp. gutted the building, put in two elevators, and created office space that is now occupied by six tenants. The city built an adjoining parking ramp.

The red brick and Cream City brick exterior was cleaned, giving the building a look it had not had for decades. In 1987, the building was illuminated using giant halogen lamps, making the building visible by approaching southbound traffic on Main Street.

The building's namesake, Dr. Clarendon I. Shoop, erected a brick building on State Street in 1893 to house his flourishing patent medicine business. The original building contained a basement level and two floors above ground.

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Shoop's Family Medicine Co. made cure-all liquids and balms that claimed to cure stomach, nerve and kidney problems. His mainstay product was a "restorative" nerve tonic that was 12 percent alcohol.

A three-story addition was built in 1899, and an office addition and electrical plant were built in 1902. Shoop stopped making patent medicine in 1910, and his "Country Club Toilet Products" business failed during World War I. Shoop died in 1924.

The building was occupied by Western Publishing in the 1920s. Western Coil & Electrical Co. occupied the building for decades.

Shoop's estate sold the building to W. Turnor Lewis in 1944. Lewis sold the building to Sandborn Tube Sales Inc. in 1978, and Johnson Wax Development bought the building in 1983.

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