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Henderson-Ames Company Collection

Identifier: RH-A-3541

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of design templates, catalogues, and correspondence from the Henderson-Ames Company located in Kalamazoo Michigan, which was in business from 1893 to 1993.


  • Creation: 1890-1911


Henderson-Ames Company History

The Henderson-Ames Company history goes back as far as 1866 and originally manufactured saddlery and trunks. Three years later Henderson bought out Charles Brown of his share in the company and formed a new partnership with Theron F. Giddings (12/25/1843-1/15/1917) which lasted another three years. In 1866, Frank Henderson (10/8/1841-1/3/1899) and his partner, Charles Brown operated a saddle and luggage business. In 1873, Henderson added regalia and uniforms to his company’s products.

In 1893, Henderson merged his company with the Chicago branch of Ames Sword Company of Chicopee, MA, forming what became The Henderson-Ames Company. In 1873 Giddings and Henderson went their separate ways. Giddings took the saddlery and trunk business, while Henderson kept the uniform and regalia manufacturing. The company became well recognized for their uniforms and was awarded the medal and diploma of excellence for quality and design at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Henderson’s new found fame and fortune in uniform manufacturing afforded him a new home on West Main Hill overlooking Kalamazoo. Built in 1895 the Henderson Castle is now a Kalamazoo landmark.

After surviving a scandal in 1899 in which the company purchased large quantities of unused militia uniforms from the Spanish-American War for a cheap price, altering them slightly and then selling them back to the State of Michigan at full price, a new five-story factory was built on the corner of Michigan Avenue and N. Park Street (it was later demolished in 1940). The company continued to manufacture uniforms during World War I and by 1924 doing over $1 million in business each year. However, the company was hit hard by the Great Depression and in 1933 Henderson-Ames merged with the Lilley Company of Columbus, OH. Forming the Lilley-Ames Company. All operations were moved to Ohio, effectively ending the Henderson-Ames Co. connection with Kalamazoo.

Frank Henderson Biography

Frank Henderson (10/8/1841-1/3/1899) moved from Dowagiac to Kalamazoo in 1860 and started a saddlery business with Charles Brown in 1866.


1 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Physical Description

The collection is composed of 1.0 cubic feet of material. The material within the collection ranges from correspondence, catalogues, and design templates of uniforms/regalia for various masonic orders.


Purchased with funds from the Starring Endowment.

Ashley Kirvan; Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490