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Research

SEEKING INFORMATION ABOUT VINCENT BENDIX

 

Author Keith O’Brien, in partnership with The History Museum, is requesting interviews with individuals who worked for or had some connection with local industrialist Vincent Bendix. He is collecting the interviews as part of research he is conducting for a book he is writing on Bendix. O’Brien is scheduling the interviews, which will take place at The History Museum from January 30 – February 3.

 

Vincent Bendix moved to South Bend during the 1920s, poised to launch a new company. His creative genius earned him the nickname “The King of Stop and Go,” a reference to his development of automobile starters and brakes. His entrepreneurial successes were known far and wide. In 1924, Bendix launched The Bendix Corporation by selling over 40,000 shares of stock in the company, raising $800,000 to finance operations. The corporation grew tremendously, producing 650,000 brakes for the auto industry in 1926 and 3.6 million just two years later, in 1928.

 

But it was Bendix’s flair for living that captured the attention of local society. He purchased a South Bend mansion in 1928. Bendix’s extensive remodeling of the home that had been built for Clement Studebaker, Jr. in 1918 turned the cement swimming pool into a sunken garden, and enlarged the three-hole pitch and putt golf course to a nine-hole course. Chateau Bendix, as he renamed it, was the scene of many parties that were said to last until the early morning hours. He had Great Gatsby-style galas for his friends from the Chicago clubs, and hosted weekend events for his friends from New York and California.

 

The History Museum has one of the largest archival collections of Vincent Bendix in the country, which is why O’Brien contacted the museum. Once completed, copies of the interviews will be given to The History Museum Archives. “Vincent Bendix is the Midwest’s Howard Hughes,” states Brandon Anderson, Deputy Executive Director of The History Museum. “Bendix lived a very lavish lifestyle filled with mansions, art, Hollywood glamor, parties, and entertainments. His personal and business life is an intriguing look at a very intelligent inventor with personality and charisma. We look forward to our work with Mr. O’Brien.”

 

Keith O’Brien is a freelance writer and former reporter for the Boston Globe. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Politico, and Esquire. He is a regular contributor to National Public Radio and an author of non-fiction books.

 

To schedule an interview, please contact Keith via email at or at 617-312-7194

The Vincent Bendix Research Library’s archival collections include photographs, architectural drawings and blueprints, manuscripts, personal papers, ethnic/immigrant papers and documents, business/industrial papers and documents, advertising, locally published newspapers dating back to 1830, scrapbooks, military records, bound volumes, and audio, video and film footage.

 

The Bendix Reading Room and Archives are open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are strongly recommended. Please call (574) 235-9664, ext. 266 or email

You can now view and search our ever-growing photograph archives by visiting our Flickr Photostream. If you want a copy of any image you encounter in our photograph archive, jot down the photograph number (always starting with “PH”) and contact our Archivist at 574-235-9664, ext. 266 or

Samples from our Flickr Photostream click here to see more.

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