Introduction to the Woolen Mill
Picture of the Week

The Woolen Mill (top picture), was located "between Bloomington and Normal (Illinois)", just south of Sugar Creek on Franklin Avenue at Sill Street (now Virginia Avenue). The mill purchased wool from local sheep growers, dyed the wool, spun it into yarn and wove it into a variety of products. In 1874 it employed twenty workers.

In business from 1870 until the early 1890's the mill was owned by a number of individuals. Around 1876, Charles Hitch became part owner with J. Rouse. In 1884 he became the sole owner.

The business stayed in the Hitch Family until 1890 when Allison Hitch opened the Woolen Mill store (bottom picture) at 408 North Main Street in Bloomington. It served as a retail outlet for the mill. Shortly thereafter, he sold the mill to Owen T. Reeves. For unknown reasons the mill was closed by 1893. The Woolen Mill store remained in the family until 1940-41 when Fred Hitch sold the business to F.J. McElroy.

The Woolen Mill store was a longtime downtown Bloomington business, remaining there until it closed in 1974.


The late F.J. McElroy is my grandfather. I made many visits to the Woolen Mill store and later worked at my grandfathers mail order business in the offices above.

The Woolen Mill Studio website is named in honor of my family's part in the Woolen Mill legacy.

Stephen J. Rogers

Copyright 2003, Stephen J. Rogers.