Feb 3rd, 2012
Author: Joe Gee
I’ll start this blog off with a little information on the Watermark 920 and the old Shaw walker Building. You can read my part of the Blog and view more pictures below.
A new event center opened for business in Muskegon Thursday. Watermark 920 is the second phase of The Watermark Center development on West Western Avenue near Muskegon Lake. The building is the former Shaw-Walker office furniture factory. Watermark 920 will host events ranging from fundraisers to graduation parties. The property owners are based in New York City and intend on transforming another portion of the former industrial space into a comprehensive movie studio. ”We are fully committed to this project and moving forward. We intend to break ground yet this year and be operational by the end of 2012,” said Sarah Rooks, Watermark Center President. The phase three studio project is expected to cost around $60-million. It would offer movie producers space to take a project from concept to post-production.
Source: Watermark 920 – WZZM
Shaw Walker Building
- 1899 – Arch W. Shaw and L.C. Walker revolutionized office work with “The Complete Office System” – tabbed 3-by-5-inch index cards in a 9-inch oak box. Until then, roll-top desks with pigeonholes were used to organize business paperwork. Shaw and Walkerset up a mail-order business in two rooms in the Muskegon Opera House in downtown Muskegon. The initial capital investment: $450. The “office system” cost $1.95 each.
- 1902 – The first building was built on the corner of Western and Division, a 21-acre site that eventually housed 30 or more buildings that covered 1 million square feet.
- 1902 – Shaw and Walker included an in-house publication, “System,” with each purchase. Shaw was so fascinated with the publishing end of the operation, he moved to Chicago to expand the publication as “Magazine of Business.” In 1929, the magazine merged with McGraw-Hill Publishers to become “Business Week.” When Shaw moved to Chicago, the business partnership dissolved, but the company retained its name, and Shaw remained on the board of directors for years.
- 1913 – The steel file that was “Built Like A Skyscraper” was introduced by Shaw-Walker, making wooden file cabinets obsolete.
- 1920s – By the end of the decade, Shaw Walker had 4,000 office items in its inventory, including “clutter-proof” steel desks and fire files, conceived after Burlington Railroads lost more than $3 million worth of records in a Chicago fire.
- 1930s – The “correct seating chair” was introduced into the product line.
- 1940s – Shaw-Walker broke new ground by building a 29-inch-high desk instead of the traditional 30 1/2-inch desk.
- 1958 – Shaw Walker, L.C.’s son, became president of the company. L.C., who was president of the board, still went to work every day. His philanthropic gifts include the Walker Arena, Walker Gallery in the Muskegon Museum of Art and Walker Park; he diedin 1963 at the age of 88.
- 1960s and ’70s – The company added modules, free-standing desks and contract office furniture to its list of products.
- 1980 – John Spoffard, L.C. Walker’s grandson and Shaw Walker’s nephew, became president of the company.
- 1989 – Shaw-Walker was sold to Westinghouse after 90 years as a private, family owned business. At the time of the sale, Shaw-Walker did $100 million in sales.
- 1990 – Westinghouse used the Shaw-Walker purchase to assemble the Knoll Group with other office furniture acquisitions.
- 1995 – Westinghouse sold its Knoll division to East Coast investors and the former Shaw-Walker building reverted to the Walker family. Knoll metal pressing opertions continue in the building today.
- 1999 – The Walker family sold the 920,000-square-foot building to a group of local investors to develop the Lakeview Center, a mixed use of office, commercial and residential redevelopment. Lakeview Center was unsuccessful.
- 2003 – ANM Group of Brooklyn, N.Y., purchased the building and received a low-tax Renaissance Zone designation for the building now being turned into The WaterMark Center.
- 2005 – An initial 53 units of loft-style condominiums are readied for occupancy.
Source: Shaw Walker Building
Joe Gee Photography
Watermark 920 / Shaw Walker Building
I’ve had a lot of customers and Facebook fans ask me to take pictures of the Shaw Walker Building. Some have even wrote me paragraphs and paragraphs of messages explaining how much this building and that company meant to them. As you can see in the information above, the Shaw Walker Building has been around for over 100 years!
I recently contacted someone at the Watermark 920 and they forwarded the email to Sara Rooks, the Watermark Center President. Sara replied almost instantly and told me that she loved my work and appreciates my enthusiasm but will not let me inside the old building to take pictures. “The vacant part is completely off limits”. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure who I was talking to and I politely asked if there was someone else I could talk to and If she could point me in the right direction. I then offered to sign a disclosure or some type of insurance liability form just in case I slipped and fell or was somehow injured. I also mentioned that I’m also a local business owner and “when you talk to the right person, anything is possible. It’s just an empty building, not a prison”. I told her that any other information that she can give me will be greatly appreciated and if she needed anything (like a picture on her wall), please let me know. “This is part of Muskegon’s history and although there is some exciting “changes” happening, once that happens.. the memories start to fade”.
She replied – “I appreciate the exposure and your enthusiasm but we have much more beautiful things to showcase here – like progress.” and “I am the top person in charge here – President of the Entire company. We own the entire block”… it is “absolutely a no.”
- Sarah Rooks, President
- Watermark * Watermark Lofts * Watermark 920 * Watermark center
- 930 Washington Ave Suite 1A
- Muskegon, MI 49441
- Direct: 231-727-0805 *
- Mobile: 231-736-4467 *
- Fax: 231-722-6680
With my “enthusiasm, ambition and love for my work”, I still didn’t want to take “NO” as an answer and continued to ask her if I could just take 15 minutes out of her busy schedule to help me and all my photography fans out. She then told me that I was insulting her and that unless I wanted to come take pictures of the newer sections (giving them some exposure), that we didn’t have “anything more to discuss”.