Manitowoc's Charles Spindler Home
Each home has its own story to tell of the people that lived there and the events that took place within its walls. The former Spindler house, located at 535 North 6th Street in Manitowoc, was designed by noted local architect Christ H. Tegen who was also responsible for a number of other leading homes in the community and the Manitowoc County Courthouse.
The Spindler House was built for Charles E. Spindler, a retired Chicago businessman who grew up in Manitowoc County. The Spindler family came from Germany in 1849 and settled in the Manitowoc area around 1858. In 1861, Charles, at age 20, moved to Chicago.
He enlisted in the Civil War on July 3, 1861 with the 1st Illinois Cavalry and was taken prisoner at the battle of Lexington. According to an article written in Dr. L. Falge’s Manitowoc County history book, “Mr. Spindler was taken prisoner by the enemy after his command had been fighting for fifty-two hours without cessation, the rebels taking $900,000. When the battle opened Mr. Spindler was on picket duty two miles from the city of Lexington and warned his command of the attack but was told that the alarm was a false one. Returning to his comrades he found that they had fled and he was forced to return to the city, to rejoin his command, several of his comrades being shot down at his side. Mr. Spindler was with Gen. Mulligan's troops when the surrender took place. Later the prisoners were released on parole and went to St. Louis where they were discharged from the service.“ He was discharged in the fall of 1861 and then returned to Illinois.
After traveling around Massachusetts and New Hampshire for a few years, he found himself back in Chicago working for the Chicago Type Foundry. In 1869, the company was reorganized as Bernhart Brothers and Spindler. It has been said that during the Chicago fire in 1871, Charles’ efforts saved the foundry. He was Superintendent and Manager of that company until his retirement in 1880.
Following Charles’ retirement, he returned to Manitowoc and built his home around 1896. He and his wife, had three children: Edwin C. , who would become the head of the Spindler Co.; Walter E., president of the Aluminum Specialty Co.; and Ida May, who married J. G. Johnson, an active civic leader and former president of the Manitowoc County Historical Society.
Charles Spindler died in 1920 at the age of 79. His obituary reads, “His was the ideal life. He enjoyed the fruits of his efforts in early life and unhampered by any restrictions was free to follow his own bent, and it can be said realized a full measure of enjoyment up to the very day of his death. Mr. Spindler some years ago erected a palatial home at Sixth and Park streets but after the death of his wife who did not survive its completion, he deeded the home to his son Edwin and proceeded with erection of a bungalow on Park street which was his home at the time of his death.”