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200 North Main St | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

Collection Description

Charles U. Williams came to Bloomington in the late nineteenth century. He was an itinerant photographer who decided to relocate to the area. He is credited with inventing the picture postcard and later opened a successful auto dealership located at 207 E. Washington St. Due to the coal shortage caused by World War I, C.U. Williams and his son Walter developed the Oil-O-Matic, an oil-based heater for homes by reusing oil from cars serviced at the dealership. In 1945, the company merged with the Eureka Company, a Detroit based maker of vacuum cleaners since 1909, and was renamed Eureka-Williams Corp. In 1973, Eureka-Williams purchased 38 acres of land in north Normal and built a warehouse and motor department building. The Eureka-Williams Corp. was purchased by AB Electrolux of Sweden and its name was changed to The Eureka Co. in 1974.  A 50,000 square foot addition was built at the Bloomington plant plus a 210,000 square foot warehouse plant in Normal.  In 1981 a plant in Juarez, Mexico was opened, and two years later a large twin plant-warehouse was built in El Paso.  Both these plants grew substantially over the next seven years.

In 2000 the Normal plant was shuttered, marking the end of line production in the Twin Cities.  In 2004 the Eureka Co. name was discontinued and the company became Electrolux Home Products.  In 2011 Electrolux ended its presence in Bloomington-Normal.

This collection includes scrapbooks, posters, and photographs from the various companies that later became Eureka-Williams, the Eureka Co. and present-day AB Electrolux. It also includes correspondence, promotional materials, magazines, and legal documents. 


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