April 24, 2023 - The former General Electric plant, now known as Electric Works, has been included on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of properties considered worthy of preservation.
The General Electric Fort Wayne Electric Works Historic District is located immediately southwest of downtown along the Broadway corridor. It is a 15-acre complex that contains 22 buildings. It is composed of both the newly opened Electric Works, and the “East Campus” which is planned for future historic rehabilitation and adaptive reuse.
The 22 buildings in the district were built in the period of 1893 to 1968. The majority of the historic buildings were built by General Electric in the period from 1907 to 1927. The largest, and most iconic buildings in the district, were designed in the Georgian Revival style by architects Harris & Richards of Philadelphia. Other buildings in the district are a mix of functional, industrial, brick structures.
Electric Works traces its origins to the 1880s with the creation of the Fort Wayne Jenney Electric Company, which pioneered an outdoor lighting system called the Jenney Arc Light. General Electric acquired the company in 1898 and transitioned production from lighting to electric motor manufacturing. Known for innovation and production quality, the plant and its staff helped create the first modern refrigerator and the electric garbage disposal, as well as other innovations in electric motors and transformers. At its peak in the late 1940s, GE employed roughly 40% of the city’s workforce. Electrical apparatus, notably fractional electrical motors (typically used for electrical appliances) and electrical transformers were among the many products manufactured at Electric Works. It was also a vital manufacturing facility supporting the war effort during World War II.
“It’s important to recognize the heritage and architecture in our City,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “The National Register of Historic Places listing of Electric Works is not only an honor, but it is a requirement for the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits that compose 20% of the funding for Electric Works. The Fort Wayne Historic Preservation Commission and the historic preservation staff played a role in the success of the project.”
The City’s Historic Preservation Commission and historic preservation staff collaborated with the property owner to achieve this designation. The former General Electric site is the 72nd site in Fort Wayne to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.