Using shells from locally harvested clams, the Lake Pepin Pearl Button Co. cut out thousands of “blanks” which we sent to Muscatine, Ia for manufacture into buttons. The business thrived from 1914 to 1920, when depleted clam stocks and plastic buttons led to its demise.
The cream colored bricks used in the Lake Pepin Pearl Button Co. building were manufactured in Jordan, Minnesota and shipped to Lake City by riverboat.
Now you can see the “Pearl Button Factory” building, located at 226 South Washington Street in Lake City, much as it was when James C. Stout (1840-1909) constructed it in 1866 as a general merchandise business. It’s open from 10-5 Monday through Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday. There’s also a new coffee / pastry shop in the building.
The Lake City Historical Society has a Pearl Button/Clamming Museum on the 1st floor of the building. A new feature in the museum is a video highlighting clamming on the Mississippi River. There are also books, video and ornaments relating to Lake City history for sale at the museum.