The Pants Factory Apartments. (Submitted photo)
The Pants Factory Apartments. (Submitted photo)
The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the very large building on the corner of North West Street and West Beech Street known as The Pants Factory. However, the three-story brick building was neither a pants factory at its beginning – nor is it a pants factory now.

Mr. J.E. Roads of J.E. Roads Poultry Company built the building after his company outgrew its location on West Walnut Street. He relocated his business to the new facility and called it the Highland Egg and Poultry Company and operated it until the 1930s.

Sometime in the 1930s, The Hercules Trouser Company acquired the building and for 50 years ran a clothing manufacturing business, closing in 1985. An antique mall then occupied the structure for a number of years before closing in 2000.

In 2003, the Pants Factory Apartments opened. This accomplishment was made possible by a collaboration of Fifth Third Community Development Corporation, Frontier Community Services, Inc., Asebrook & Co. Architects and contractors, L.W. Associates. For this effort, these partners were awarded the Ohio Historic Preservation Office Merit Award.

Being of historic interest, the building was included on the Highland County Historical Society House Tour shortly after it opened and was occupied with residents. Not only was the building itself enjoyed, but resident Valeta Doorneweerd and others opened their apartments for viewing. Both two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments were open to visitors.

The “factory” became a National Register of Historic Places site on Jan. 24, 2002 with the historical function designation of agriculture/subsistence. The application for this designation was submitted by Jeffrey T. Darbee, historic preservation consultant with Benjamin D. Rickey & Co. of Columbus. Darbee’s comments included, “The building represents a property type, the early 20th all-masonry industrial building, that has all but disappeared from Hillsboro. The building is significant as a physical remnant of the small-scale, but important, industrial base that once existed in Hillsboro.” It is “simple, unadorned masonry bearing-wall construction.”

From poultry, to pants, to antiques, to people, this beautiful 100-year-old building has served durably and proudly. It stands as a stalwart tribute to Hillsboro’s past, a home of comfort to current residents and a beacon of purposeful preservation to Hillsboro’s future.