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Atlas Underwear Factory
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What is that under there? Just made you say underwear!
In Richmond, Indiana, people have said ‘underwear’ with perfectly straight faces for a century. Blasé skivvy talk started there in 1910, when a three-story factory opened that manufactured unmentionables. The Richmond Underwear Company enjoyed immediate success and nationwide distribution.
In 1915, Ohio-based Atlas Underwear snapped up the North 10th Street edifice, re-christening it The Atlas Underwear Factory. And that’s when Richmond undies really took off. At the company’s height, Atlas’s ubiquity invited comparisons to its mythical namesake, except instead of on its shoulders, it supported the world from underneath -- kept it from chafing, too.
After a 1916 expansion, a government contract had the factory churning out 3,600 pairs a day for American soldiers in World War 1. The Atlas juggernaut rolled successfully for decades, with the zenith coming in the 60’s when its hi-tech metabolism-sensing long johns comprised the bottom layer of the Apollo missions’ space suits.
But eventually, Atlas Underwear lost market share. The folded factory sat dormant from 1981 until an enterprising development company restored and adapted the yellow brick behemoth for senior living, using preservation tax credits.
The bare brick, high ceilings and exposed beams and columns remain. Sadly, they didn’t call it Atlas Underwear Apartments, which would've been kind of awesome. Then again, It’s probably a lot easier to lease space in the Atlas-Starr Senior Apartments.
Historic postcard of Atlas Underwear Factory in Richmond
History of Atlas Underwear and B.V.D. (partial article)
Brief history of B.V.D. (undergarment manufacturer purchased by Atlas in the 1930s)
Tax credits for preservation
Indiana Landmarks | 1201 Central Avenue | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | 800-450-4534 | 317-639-4534 | Fax 317-639-6734