Chapman Laundry

Employees of the flatwork department at Edwards & Chapman Laundry, 1920s (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Employees of the flatwork department at Edwards & Chapman Laundry, 1920s (Sangamon Valley Collection)

The Edwards & Chapman Laundry was founded in 1905 by H.C. “Kelly” Edwards (1872-1938) and Alvin Chapman (1873-1958) and grew rapidly, moving into its own specially constructed building in the 100 block  of West Cook Street in 1908. The 26,500-square-foot facility made Edwards & Chapman Illinois’ largest laundry on a single floor outside Chicago.

Edwards & Chapman Laundry, undated (eBay)

“Among other special features are a dining room, dressing rooms and shower bath in the basement free to all employees,” the Illinois State Journal reported in 1911. Nearly 200 people worked for Edwards & Chapman.

Water for the laundry was specially treated in two 15,000-gallon tanks and “filtered through sea sand, and made as clear as crystal, and as soft as rain water,” the Journal said.

Edwards sold his interest in the laundry to Chapman in 1927. The plant was leased in 1952 to F.W. Means Towel & Uniform. In 1981, the old laundry building was converted to the Vinegar Hill Mall.

Sources: Illinois State Journal, Jan. 15, 1911; Sangamon Valley Collection.bridge

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5 Responses to Chapman Laundry

  1. Chris N Chapman says:

    Aloha, My Father, Col. John Alvin Chapman, was Alvin Chapman’s son. I am John Chapman youngest son, of 5 children. I was wondering if there is ( are ) any memorabilia for sale in the mall or adjacent areas referring to the Chapman laundry?

    • editor says:

      Mr. Chapman: You would pretty much have to search antique and used-goods shops individually. I can’t say I’ve ever seen any Chapman items around town, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Thanks for reading.

      • Brenda Edwards says:

        Mr Chapman, my mother in 1958 befriended Carlene Chapman at Nuemodes Hosiery where they both worked. She was Chappie to us. She lived in Jerome in a small two bedroom home on a court that backed up to our street in Jerome. Her home was small but filled with huge rich furniture. She had satin comforters. As a child I was mesmerized. My mother took her to work everyday at Nuemodes. Nuemodes closed and they both went to work at a dress Store called Herndons at Town and Country Shopping Center. My mother continued taking her to work. Chap pie came for dinner a lot. She wore these little gold Aladdin slippers that were studded with rhinestones. Her story was that at one time she was wealthy and her husband was Chapman of Chapman’s laundry. It’s our understanding Mr. Chapman passed away and she eventually married a Mr Barr who took her for what he could and left her. We also were under the belief she had 3 sons. One son committed suicide. One is a dr or dentist, the other in the service. Chap pie is buried in an unmarked grave at oak Ridge Cemetery. Is she your Grandmother possibly?

        • Chris says:

          Aloha Brenda,
          That sounds like a match for sure. I am the son of the dentist. I was born in the late 1950s . My family visited Springfield when I was not yet knee high so my memories are barely there. I remember we went to a popular local restaurant famous for chili. It seems like it was a named after a guy – Ollie or some such. How very interesting.
          I Thank You very much for responding. It is a chapter of my family history that is new to me!

  2. Brenda Edwards says:

    My mother really liked Chappie as well as the rest of the family. She smoked like a chimney and loved her after work cocktails. She was pretty up in years and she was working. Had to hand it to her! She was a little tiny lady. I will check to see if Mom has any pictures of her. I’m sorry took so long to get back to you. Please contact me by my email.

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