Soper Foundry (then known as Flagg Foundry) began in Bloomington in 1874, producing gray iron casting on a jobbing basis, cast iron bridge castings and selected plumbing fixtures. The company moved twice in Bloomington, finally settling at the corner of Washington and McClun Streets in 1885. That was the year in which they bought patents for heating and ventilating systems that used large cast iron furnaces. These furnaces were popular with large buildings such as schools and churches for use with both heating and ventilation.

The company’s name changed to American Foundry & Furnace Company in 1896, when they were incorporated in the State of Illinois.

The 1885 foundry was expanded at least eleven times. Eventually, the firm added sheet metal work, especially air handling products. They sold through direct branches as well as through

distributors and manufacturers agents. At least three generations of the Soper family owned the company. Modine Manufacturing of Racine, WI, acquired the company in a stock trade in 1964.

The collection is primarily comprised of photos of their furnaces and includes a scrapbook of photos and letters of successful school building installations. A product brochure, a 1957 company history, and other sundry items round out the collection. Please note that many of the photos were professionally taken by United Photo.