Gustav Schimpff, Sr., opened his candy business at 347 Spring Street in 1891. Today, it remains one of the oldest family-owned candy businesses in the U.S. operating in its original location. Warren Schimpff, a great-grandson of the founder, relocated from California with his wife, Jill, in 1990 to buy the business and keep ownership in the family. Ten years later, they purchased and rehabbed the adjacent building to the north, creating a candy museum and demonstration area.
Despite the expansion, the business’s popularity meant crowded conditions, especially during lunch hours and holidays. Meanwhile, a former stationery store south of Schimpff’s (once owned by Gustav’s brother Charles) sat vacant. The Schimpffs bought the building to create additional retail, seating, manufacturing, and storage space for their candy operation.
Years of deferred maintenance and water infiltration led to rotten floor joists, which had to be replaced. Several later additions at the back of the building were removed to allow construction of a new manufacturing and storage area, a project complicated by the tight space in the eight-foot-wide alley. Warren Schimpff and the project engineer likened the challenge to building a model ship in a bottle.
The Schimpffs returned the façade of the building to its historic appearance, exposing long-covered storefront transom windows, and reinstalling full-height windows in upper story where openings were reduced in a decades-old remodeling.
Inside, the Schimpffs took pains to recapture much of building’s original character, as well. Historic photos showed the building once had a tin ceiling, so W.F. Norman Company of Missouri recreated it using an original pattern from the period. Crews restored the terrazzo floor, an early twentieth-century addition matching one in the confectionery.
Artifacts found during the rehab show up throughout the new space, including a trap door to the basement now displayed on the wall. The cash register rests on an antique safe, a vintage soda fountain has been adapted as candy bins, and the expanded deli seating area incorporates antique tables with swing-out seats.
Longtime members of Indiana Landmarks, the Schimpffs are downtown boosters extraordinaire. “It means a lot to us that people come up and thank us for maintaining the old feel of Spring Street,” says Jill. “I think it helps to instill town pride to have something like this downtown.”
Learn more about Schimpffs, and order online, at www.schimpffs.com.
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