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Knight & Jillson Company was a manufacturer and wholesaler of pipes of all kinds. The gas boom of central Indiana made the pipe business very lucrative; at its peak, the company’s revenue totaled nearly $1,500,000. Their office and main plant was located at 121-127 S Pennsylvania St., at the southeast corner of the intersection with Chesapeake St.

According to the 1898 Sanborn Fire Insurance Rate map, the back 3-story part was used for pipe-fitting and storage. This building was not yet finished on the map, so it was likely built in 1899 or 1900. They also had operations in the building just to the south of this one (not shown).

In addition, the company ran a pipe storage and distribution yard east of Union Station at approximately 338 S Pennsylvania, a short walk from the office.

knight-jillsonpipeyard

This view looks west-northwest from the southeast corner of the pipe yard. Union Station’s tower is seen in the center, and the Vandalia Railroad tracks are just off to the right.

By the 1914 Sanborn map, the office and manufacturing buildings were in use by the Western Electric Company, so the pipe business was probably gone by then. Increasingly surrounded by parking lots, the 5-story office building apparently remained until 1998, when it was demolished for Conseco Fieldhouse. The arena’s main entrance is about where the building’s back wall was.

Knight & Jillson was just one of the many manufacturers and distributors in the Wholesale District, of course. However, the company does have the unique connection to the Kemper House at 1028 North Delaware Street. William Jillson, partner in the company, and his new wife Mary, and her mother, moved into that house in 1875 and remained until 1898, and had two children there. Owing to the efforts of another industry leader, Eli Lilly, the house was preserved and remains a testament to the peak times of the Wholesale District.

Photos from “The Journal Handbook of Indianapolis, 1902”, from the IUPUI Digital Collection.

 

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