Western Tablet Company taking a new look as ~ Lofts ~ Mitchell Park Plaza ~ St Joseph

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Stein Summers MO #1999033426

Mitchell Park Plaza Lofts


Western Tablet Company plant has been an integral architectural part of St Joseph since the early 1900's.  Not only was this where the original BIG CHIEF TABLET was made, but also the number of jobs at the factory.  The Western Tablet Company held the original copyright of the popular writing notebook but was sold later to the Mead Corporation.  In 2004 Mead closed the St Joseph plant.

 The Big Chief Tablet was a popular writing notebook for several generations of young children.  It featured widely spaced lines, easier to write in for those learning to write.  It's prominence however, was the cover's representation of a native American in full headdress "Big Chief".  Schools provided lists of required items to parents spelling out the necessary supplies, citing the Big Chief tablets by name.  The exact date of the tablet debut is unknown but it served untold millions of school kids in the 20th century.


It is said that John-Boy Walton used a Big Chief tablet to hone his writing skills.

                                                  Big Chief Tablet


In 2007 The Foutch Brothers purchased the 500,000 sq ft. building, creating a prime example of luxury residential living, with a daylight atrium that opens through the heart of the building. 

Their inclusive design plans call for first floor: restaurant, coffee shop and other retail spaces open to the public.  The Second floor: residents will enjoy a pool, gym including a running track, indoor basketball court. To protect the privacy of the tenants and the exclusivity of the other amenities offered to the residents, the building is completely secured, with leasing underway.  The rooftop deck will be landscaped and entertaining space with hot tubs, drive-in style movies, plus plenty of space for soaking up the sun.

The 200+ residential spaces range from studio style to three bedroom and will also have 70+ executive apartments, keeping the architectural integrity of the building.

The Foutch Brothers have been the recipients of many awards for their historic rehabilitation projects, including others completed in St. Joseph.

Further information on Mitchell Park Plaza may be found on their website

More info on St Joseph

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Gayle Balaban
The Best Spot Realty/Waterfront Real Estate/Ooltewah Real E - Chattanooga, TN
E. TN Waterfront Real Estate

Sunds like a great place Dona.  I wish that I had the resources to do a project like that.

Jan 17, 2009 03:38 PM #1
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Hi Dona. I didn't know this about where this tablet was made or the link to the TV show the Waltons. Thanks for this historic background. The remodeling into something new and improved sounds like it will be exquisite when completed.

Jan 18, 2009 01:00 AM #2
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

I disliked the Big Chief tablet because we were required to use them in school. I believe I still have one of them that's about 35 years old now. Maybe I can sell it on eBay -- LOL.

Jan 18, 2009 02:09 AM #3
Dona Reynolds
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Stein Summers - Saint Joseph, MO
St. Joseph MO

Hi Gayle!  This is really quite the place and they are leasing them very fast.  I have not seen anything like this before.  Way Cool!

Gary: We wonder sometimes what could occupy a 500,000 sq ft building.  This is really very interesting project and totally new to St Joseph.  There really is quite a story about the Big Chief tablet for sure.

Hi Jim: Yes I also remember the Big Chief being required in school and I think my oldest child had to have them when she started to school also.  You may want to check the value of the old Big Chief tablet, I think we paid about 25 cents back then.

Jan 18, 2009 11:02 AM #4
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Hi Dona!  GREAT piece tying the past with the present!  Oh, and I LOVED 'The Waltons'!  I look forward to your post as this interesting development 'develops!'

Debe in Charlotte

Jan 18, 2009 11:22 PM #5
Dona Reynolds
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Stein Summers - Saint Joseph, MO
St. Joseph MO

Hi Debe!  When Mead closed 400 jobs were lost, so it is really nice to see something positive come from this.  The Fouch Brothers have done an excellent job with this rehabilitation into lofts, they also have became very involved in the area neighborhood as a good neighbor. 

Jan 19, 2009 11:41 AM #6
John Boy

Problem is the neighborhood is a dump.  Next door is a chemical warehouse and the owner just plead guilty to dumping chemicals.  Boy, I would want to leave there!!

Jan 28, 2009 09:24 AM #7
Dona Reynolds
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Stein Summers - Saint Joseph, MO
St. Joseph MO

Hi John Boy!

The article was a postive happening to a 500,000 square foot building that the developers clearly seen a vision for the building and turning it into a historical rehabiltation project.  Thank you for commenting.

Jan 29, 2009 01:11 PM #8
Paul Gibson

I am a resident of the building, and it is fabulous, from the state of the art fitness center, to the roof top terrace with outdoor theater, we absolutely love it...

Some other things for the community that may not call the buliding home, in the not to distant future the first floor will hold a billiards/darts type of hang out temporarilly as we make plans to open a full fledged convinece store complete with normal items to frozen drinks (think 7-11/QT) to the best tasting fountain drinks and tea in st. Joe..... Be on the look out.

fouch brothers and bionic real estate services have a vision beyond the Mead/Wetern Tablet building now Mitchell Park Plaza as well, over the next years watch as they hopefully are a cataylst to a whole effort of a new Saint joseph.

If anyone wants any iformation on it presently i would love to oblige, in exchange, i am new to saint joseph, and am in awe of the history i can see from my window. Patee house, the pony express stables, jesse james house.... can anyone tell me some really good stories or history that i am right on top of.

Aug 04, 2009 12:44 PM #9
Dona Reynolds
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Stein Summers - Saint Joseph, MO
St. Joseph MO

Hi Paul!  Thank you for joining my postWelcome to St Joseph! 

The vision the Fouch Brothers had for the Westab Building is fabulous isn't it?  I need to come back down and do an updated on this article as the final improvements are nearly completed.  Could we get together soon to get some interior photos for me to do a update on the Mitchell Park Plaza?

If you look to the west of the Mead building,  toward the 116 S 2nd area.  In the late 1880's William Arnold established the Pony Express Co, driving his own wagon.  He sold the company in the early 1900's to St Joe Transfer Co, which had a stable of 40 horses and kept the storage business.  

Down on 5th Seneca, Robert J Brown Lumber opened in the 1920's  and Robert Brown Lumber  still operates a full lumber company today.

At 5th Sylvanie was the Chase Candy Co., if you have not read my article on Cherry Mash it is an important part of St Joseph and still makes our favorite candy bar, Cherry Mash today.

The Railroad station was on about 6th Seneca where currently the Juda House is located.

Along the 200 S 3 was the original Chesmore Seed company that opened in the late 1880's.

St Joseph has a wealth of history through the City.  Would love to get together to share my knowledge of our beautiful city.


Aug 04, 2009 04:59 PM #10
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