J. R. Watkins Adminstration Building and Museum
Located within the former print shop of the J. R. Watkins headquarters in Winona, this museum offers exhibits that preserve and share the history of the Watkins company. The company headquarters was designed by architect George W. Maher in the Prairie School style. The complex features over 200 skylights, a 70-foot rotunda dome covered in 24-carat gold leaf, and multiple stained-glass windows that were made by the Tiffany company. Behind the administration building are several historic manufacturing buildings that were constructed between 1889 and 1914 and still used to produce Watkins products.
Backstory and Context
By the 1890s, the company was marketing a variety of spices and extracts. In the decades that followed, the company expanded to include soaps and home remedies. As consumers began to prefer purchasing goods from a supermarket rather than door-to-door sales representatives, the company experienced a decline. Watkins filed for bankruptcy protection in the 1970s but has enjoyed a tremendous comeback in recent years owing to internet sales and direct sales at several national retailers.