Structural steel company. In 1910, Hugh Baker, an Ohio native, established a consulting engineer’s office in Indianapolis. The following year he formed the Fireproofing Company, a structural steel firm, with his brother-in-law, J. Ralph Fenstermaker. In 1918, the two businesses consolidated as Hugh J. Baker and Company. The firm furnished steel building products for many Indianapolis buildings; among them were the Hume-Mansur Building and the Circle Theatre.

In 1921, the company began Baker Forms, which constructed wood forms for concrete joists for such buildings as L. S. Ayres And Company, the Test Building, and the Circle Tower. When Baker died in 1938, Fenstermaker continued the business, which grew into a multimillion-dollar company based at 602 West McCarty Street. During World War II, Baker and Company devoted 95 percent of its production to war-related products, supplying the army with treadways for infantry support bridges.

By 1980, the company was one of the largest independent fabricators of structural and reinforcing steel in the country. Its structural steel supports many of Indianapolis’ most prominent buildings, among which are the Indiana University Natatorium and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In 1986, the company sold Baker Forms to a Cincinnati, Ohio, firm, and the following year it sold a second division to a New Jersey corporation. Baker and Company executives purchased the remaining assets in 1987 and formed Farnsworth Steel. The new firm retained many of the former employees, as well as its plant at 3602 Farnsworth Avenue. Although Farnsworth Steel reported annual sales of $10 to $11 million in 1993, it had closed for business by mid-September 1994.

Revised February 2021

Help improve this entry

Contribute information, offer corrections, suggest images.

You can also recommend new entries related to this topic.