Studebaker Family

Studebaker's First OfficeStudebaker's First Office

In 1852, Clement and Henry Studebaker arrived in South Bend and opened a blacksmith shop located at the intersection of Michigan Street and Jefferson Boulevard. In 1857 they built their first carriage. They soon received a contract to build several hundred wagons for the United States government. To meet the sudden demand, the Studebackers developed a special process to quickly age their timber and were able to complete the contract as well as expand their business.

Studebaker Vehicle Works

Clement and Henry’s brother, John, had been traveling through California and returned to South Bend and began working for the company. Meanwhile, Henry retired to his newly purchased farm. John and Clement were so successful at building and selling wagons that they needed to recruit their brother, Peter, to help with the operation by building a showroom in Goshen. During the Civil War, the Studebaker Company supplied the Union with wagons, providing the brothers another opportunity to expand their operations. After the war, another market emerged as they sold wagons to the millions of Americans moving westward. By 1868, the Studebaker brothers' annual sales were over $350,000 and they officially formed the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company.  

JMS BuildingJMS Building

Their company transformed again in 1902 when they began manufacturing automobiles. The Studebaker Company was the only wagon and carriage manufacturer to make a successful transition into the new automobile industry. Their plant in South Bend continued producing cars and expanded until the decline of the American auto industry in the 1960s. The Studebakers' success and prosperity led to the sponsorship of several building programs in South Bend and the surrounding areas for commercial, civic, religious, and residential purposes.


The Studebaker Mansion, now known as the Tippecanoe Restaurant, can be visited just west of the downtown area today. Other notable South Bend buildings include the JMS Building on the corner of Main Street and West Washington, St. Paul's Memorial United Methodist Church at 1001 West Colfax, and the 'Studebaker Block' located on the corner of Michigan and Jefferson (now demolished). 


Danielson, Kay Marnon. Images of America Series: South Bend, Indiana. Chicago, IL: Arcadia Publishing, 2001.

Erskine, Albert Russel. History of the Studebaker Corporation. Chicago, IL: The Studebaker Corporation, 1924.

Palmer, John. The Making of America Series: South Bend, Crossroads of Commerce. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2003.

Romine, Joan. Tippecanoe Place. South Bend, IN: Southhold Restorations Inc., 1972.