The Roos Cedar Chest factory, which relocated to the corner of Harrison Street and Circle Avenue in Forest Park in 1918, was at one time the largest local manufacturing company, employing 400 people.
It expanded to 85,000 square feet by 1928, making cedar chests, which were a “must-have” item for new brides.
Edward Roos’ sons Ed and Otto took over the Chicago based business in 1907 when their father died. The Roos boys had many family ties to Forest Park and the early days of Harlem, so it seemed like a natural fit to move their Cedar Chest business to town.
The Roos family name is found in the foundations of many organizations, including Waldheim Cemetery, Kiwanis Club, Harlem Maennerchor, Businessmen Association and the Forest Park State Bank.
The Roos Cedar Chest business slowed and later became the hub for Fisher Pen Co. and then Castile Soap Co. This photo from 2002 shows the then-vacant Roos building while it was being considered for conversion into lofts. The building would ultimately fall under disrepair, and the Park District of Forest Park purchased the building in 2013 to make way for the Roos Recreation Center.
Note: Edited to correct the date of the purchase of the Roos from 2003 to 2013 by the Park District. 10/3/2019 Jill Wagner