By Cindy Hadish
WASHINGTON, Iowa — The former McCleery Calendar Factory building — a company that went from one of the country’s largest manufacturers of religious calendars to becoming exclusive producers of Hugh Hefner’s line of Playboy calendars — could soon see a new chapter.
A group of investors has purchased the two-story brick building in Washington, Iowa, with hopes to preserve the structure, listed in 2015 on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1923, with later additions in 1931, 1935 and 1945, the calendar factory was once a main hub of employment in the town of about 7,200 residents in southeast Iowa.
An arched recessed entry faces Washington’s East Third Street, while the interior is primarily an open floor plan, with first-story metal windows filling entire walls, allowing natural light to pour into the building.
According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination by Rebecca Lawin McCarley, the building has been primarily used for storage since 1958, when the McCleery Calendar Factory moved to a larger facility.
The building was purchased by Kirkpatrick Sr. Trucking Company in 1964, which then sold it to local contractor Earl R. Wood & Sons, Inc. in 1969.
Board members of Save Cedar Rapids Heritage toured the old calendar factory March 5, 2021, and the nearby Mills Seed Co.
See photos of the historic Mills Seed Company building.
Terry Philips, who is serving as custodian of the calendar factory, said the investors, from Washington, Cedar Rapids and Pella, are open to other partners. He can be reached at (319) 430-8536.
Ideas for repurposing the building include a microbrewery, an architectural salvage shop or hotel.
“The investors bought it to save the building,” said Philips, an accomplished historic preservationist. “It’s just a matter of finding the right people with the capital to make it happen.”
See photos of the mansions of Bonaparte, and more photos of the McCleery Calendar Factory, below:
Fascinating story on my hometown, Cindy! great news and hope that they find some investors
Yes, it certainly has great potential! Looking forward to seeing what it becomes.
Is this also the same location, on East 3rd St., of the Button Factory? I don’t know what years it was used for manufacturing buttons, but my grandmother worked there sometime in the early 1950s.
Hi Sharon! This particular building was not a button factory, but the Washington Pearl Button Company was located in the nearby Mills Seed building in the past. http://homegrowniowan.com/photos-historic-mills-seed-company-building-in-washington-iowa/
I’m so glad another building is being saved instead of being torn down. Congratulations to the new owners.
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I love to see this story although I’m responding late. I came across this while doing research for a project I’m doing. I’m interested that the name Cumming has been dropped from the company name. Harold Cumming actually saved the calendar factory from a disastrous situation in the 60s. The color separation on a major run of the Playboy Calendars was slightly offset. It was too late to rerun them in order to make their deadline. Harold got an appointment with Hugh Hefner the day it was discovered, flew to Chicago and met with Hefner. He was able to convince him to take that run of calendars at no cost if they could keep the Playboy account. Hefner agreed and that saved a very long-term, lucrative account. My family were friends with Harold and Mabel Cumming. Harold died of a heart attack in the mid-sixties but his name was part of the company for as long as I could remember. It was the McCleery-Cumming Calendar Company.
Interesting story, Richard! Thank you for sharing that.
Am i allowed to go in it because i live close to it! and i thought i was a hospital or school
You’d need to check with the owners. Contact them at Mills Seed Co.