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Explore African American social history, and industrial and commercial architecture on the historic west side

After a devastating fire in 1884, the Showers Brothers Company relocated from the east side of town to a site on the west side along the railroad tracks. The significant history of the West Side also reflects the migration of African Americans from the east side of Bloomington to the west in order to stay close to their employers, including the Showers Factory, Dolan Tierman Stave Factory, Field Glove, Bloomington Basket Company, Nurre Mirror Company, Central Oolitic Stone Saw Mill, and Hoadley Stone Company. With the exception of the Showers Factory, most evidence of these building and the industrial landscape they reflected are gone. But a few of these buildings have been restored and have become the heart of downtown.

The area continued to be integrated, however it became familiar as the home of Bloomington's African American community and the location of its most important landmarks. Second Baptist Church, Bethel A.M.E. Church and Banneker School.

A few wealthy citizens and middle-class businessmen built imposing homes along Kirkwood, but this was not the residential trend. Instead, they platted smaller lots for denser neighborhoods on which simply-designed vernacular houses were built for the West Side's rapidly expanding workforce.