Built in 1916, the three-story historic textile mill in South Bend, Indiana, was constructed in anticipation of producing underwear for the armed forces, and was part of a larger nine-building complex. This building in particular was used for carding, spinning, sewing, cutting, and knitting.
The site on which the Stephenson Underwear Mill is located is associated with one of the earliest industries of South Bend – the A.C. Staley Woolen Mill, established in 1863. In 1907, the Stephenson brothers became the sole owners, and the name of the company was changed to the Stephenson Underwear Mills. As one of the largest manufacturers of underwear in the country, Stephenson Underwear Mills was an important supplier to the US military during World War I. The Mill continued to prosper up until the stock market crash of 1929. The Mill remained vacant for some time and later became home to several manufacturing operations, including South Bend Plating and Polishing Company, Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company, and the Opelika Company.
To date, Stephenson Mill Apartments is the only remaining representation of the Stephenson Underwear Mills. Inside the building was largely open, historically, making it an appealing candidate for adaptive reuse. The historic apartments have an open character and original materials have been kept in place wherever possible, including exposed concrete and brick walls and wood plank ceilings. In keeping with the industrial character of the building all duct work has been left exposed.