Indian Motocycle Factory, Springfield Mass

The factory on Wilbraham Road in Springfield, which would later house the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company.  Seen here around 1892 and published in Picturesque Hampden (1892).

497_1892c picturesquehampden

The building in 2015:


This building is best known as having been part of the Indian Motocycle Company factory, but it has had a variety of uses over the years.  The original section of the building, as seen in the 1892 photo, was built in 1883 for the Bullard Repeating Arms Company, a rifle company that was not as successful as another firearms company founded in Springfield during the 19th century.  Bullard didn’t last too long, and the building was then used by the Springfield Industrial Institute, a private trade school.  In 1895, the school moved to the building across the courtyard, and the Elektron Company occupied this building.  It was at this point that the wing was built to the east, beyond the tower.

Early in the 20th century, George Hendee moved his motorcycle company to this site, which was originally named Hendee Manufacturing Company, but was later renamed Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company (the “r” was intentionally omitted from “motorcycle” for trademark purposes).  The two story addition was put on the building in 1911, which by then had nearly quadrupled in size from the 1892 photo.  This triangle between State Street and Wilbraham Road was the home of the company until they closed in 1953, at which point the buildings were used for various other businesses.  Since then, several of the buildings have been demolished, although the original 1883 Bullard building survives, and it has been renovated and turned into apartments.

17 thoughts on “Indian Motocycle Factory, Springfield Mass”

  1. My Grandfather, a Swedish immigrant, lived at 115 Wilbraham Road and worked for Indian Motocycles. I am not sure of the timeline though.

  2. George Mallory Hendee was not from Boston. He was born in Watertown, CT, in 1866 and moved to Springfield, MA, with his parents in 1978. Easy to find that history online.

  3. My name is Jim Hill I spent many hrs shopping at the old Indian Motorcycle at Kings dept store and a furniture that was also in that building good memories.

    • James, Thanks for mentioning Kings Dept. Store for I use to sweep the floors for a summer job while going to Eastern Avenue Jr.High School and Monson Academy for high school. My sister went to Buckingham them Tech high. Before WWII my uncle worked for Indian Motorcycle. Yes, good memories.

  4. As a small child my family lived in Sixteen Acres. To go downtown we had to drive past the old Indian factory. They had gone out of business by then so the buildings were always dark and scary looking. My Dad warned me to, “stay away from that place boy, there’s Indians in there!” He didn’t have to tell me twice!

  5. I am researching the building itself and am interested in learning about the architect or builder. My grandfather was a partner of Napoleon Russell, who was involvied in the construction of Hilltop Farm, Mr. Hendee’s estate in Suffeld, Ct.

    • Jeff, I am interested too. My husband just came into possession of one of the windows from the factory that was removed when the building was convertec to apartments. I’d like to know more about that as well.

      • Becky,
        I researched further and found that my grandfather, Fred M. Knowlton, designed a 5 story addition to the Hendee Building. Ironically, he died in a motorcycle crash in 1921.

  6. My moms uncle worked for Indian and she said she always remembered the day her uncle bought a brand new chief from Indian and she lived very close to the factory and he drove it over and gave her a ride on it the same day he bought it

  7. I went to Western New England College in the 70’s. I also lived downtown and would drive by the building all the time. I remember there was a fire house on the western end of the building. I always wanted to go in there seeking a old Indian bike to take home to NJ!

  8. Actually..the 1st Indian prototype was made in Middletown CT. on Hamlin street. Only a block from where I live and have my business. A customer came into the shop a few years ago and told me that. I just googled it and yup..its true. Just thought I would throw that out so its not forgotten. I was surprised when he told me that.

  9. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
    In response to your queries regarding the architect that designed the original Bullard building; it was either Charles Sidney [Springfield Daily Republican May 31st, 1883, page 6] or Levi Moody [Springfield Daily Republican, July 5th, 1883 page 6] depending upon which newspaper story one cares to believe. Moody may be correct for originally the building was to be 5 stories high and longer than that actually built. Moody was doing a flat roof on his design too.
    A great deal of information about this building is included in my two books BULLARD ARMS 1988 and BULLARD FIREARMS 2002.

    Best regards,

    G. Scott Jamieson


Leave a Comment