Bates Bakery

130 Main Street

In 1915, Will Bates moved his Bates Baking Company into a new facility at 409 Duff Avenue.

Will Bates worked as a baker at three different Ames locations before establishing Bates Baking Company at 409 Duff.  Here, employee Verna Houge stands with the delivery truck next to the new facility, “a strictly modern building, thoroughly equipped in every way for an up-to-date bakery business.”  Bates Bakery produced the first wrapped bread ever sold in Ames.  The delivery truck may be a Maxwell.

Verna Helen Houge was born in 1897, in Slater, Iowa, the youngest of the seven children of John and Olina Houge.  The family moved to 2nd Street in Ames by 1902 and in 1903 became charter members of the nearby Bethesda Norwegian Lutheran Church, where Verna was confirmed on December 17, 1911.  Verna was the second cousin of Helen Bates and worked for some years at Bates Bakery, owned by W.S. Bates, Helen's husband.  In 1919 Verna married Clyde Odell Cole, the son of William & Lizzie Cole of Ames, and rented a farm northwest of Ames.  In 1931 Clyde died at the age of 33, leaving Verna with 5 children between the ages of 11 years and 18 months.  The farm equipment and animals were sold at auction and she used that money for a home in Ames.  This home was built by Ben Cole Construction, Clyde Cole's uncle, shortly after Clydes death. Verna never remarried and raised the children alone.  Verna Houge Cole died in 1988 and was still living in that same house. Verna was the first organist for Bethesda Lutheran Church, where she also taught Sunday School, was a member of Ladies Circle and the Quilting Club.

William Sigler Bates was born in Olin, Iowa in 1878 and moved with his parents to Des Moines at age three.  He attended the Des Moines public schools and graduated from a Des Moines commercial college.  At age 19 he began his apprenticeship with Samuel B. Garton, a Des Moines baker.  In June of 1899, Mr. Bates married Helen C. Hendrickson of Slater.  The two moved to St. Paul and then to Minneapolis.  Will worked at bakeries in each of those Minnesota cities.  He moved next to Denver, Colorado, where he established a bakery before moving back to Minneapolis.  After several years, Mr. Bates established a bakery on Sixth Avenue in Des Moines, which he sold in 1909.

W.S. Bates came to Ames in 1910 and established a bakery in connection with Barney Knudson's grocery store, located at 119 Main Street.  He later established another bakery in partnership with Lou Keigley at 300 Main Street.  After selling out his interest to Keigley, Mr. Bates started Bates Baking Company and operated it as a retail business for five years at 130 Main Street.  In 1915, A.H. Munn built the Bates Baking Company building at 409 Duff and Mr. Bates began his wholesale baking from that location, adding retail operations in 1926.

Will Bates was in failing health for six months before he died in the Nevada Sanitarium in 1930.  Approximately 800 persons attended his funeral services in the Ames Lutheran Church.  "Many of those who came to the funeral were forced to stand in the rear of the church as the extra chairs which were placed in the rear of the auditorium and in the aisles were unable to accommodate the crowd."


Ames Evening Times, September 29, 1915

Work started yesterday on a new building for the Ames Bakery.  It will be located north of the Ames Hotel on Duff avenue and will be a strictly modern building thoroughly equipped in every way for an up-to-date bakery business.  The structure is being put up by H.L. Munn and A.H. Munn.  It will be one story high and 60 feet by 30 feet wide.  The foundation and floor will be of concrete and the walls of brick.

Mr. W.S. Bates, the proprietor of the Ames Bakery, expects to equip his new building with all the most modern and sanitary appliances obtainable.  Electric mixers and other machinery that adds to the sanitation and efficiency of a bakery will be installed.  Inside finish of the building will be pure white.

With the new building Mr. Bates expects to be able to extend his wholesale business over much territory that he has not been able to cover with the limited capacity of his present bakery.  It is planned to have the new building ready for occupancy by November 1st.



Ames Evening Times, December 17, 1915

Three years ago, W.S. Bates began making Butter-Nut bread in the basement of his bakery store on Main street.  His daily output was about 300 loaves.  Tomorrow evening he will throw open for public inspection his new modern bread factory on Duff avenue where he is turning out daily 1800 loaves of bread with a capacity for many hundred more.

The new bread factory is 30x80 feet and is what is known as a daylight shop.  The interior is nicely finished with white walls and hardwood floors and is conveniently arranged.  The business office and wrapping and shipping rooms occupy the front of the building with the workroom and ovens in the rear.

The latest models of bake shop machinery have been installed in the shop and all bread and cake dough is mixed in electric mixers.  Electric molding machines make the loaves of bread into proper size and they are baked in ovens heated by oil burners and finished in white tile.  When the loaves come from the oven they are placed on trucks and wheeled into the wrapping room where they are wrapped by an electric wrapping machine.

With the completion of his new factory Mr. Bates expects to go into the wholesale side of the bread business.  He already has orders from a number of towns in the state and plans to make Ames a big bread center for all of Iowa.

The Butter-Nut factory employs five people in addition to Mr. and Mrs. Bates.

Mr. Bates will continue his retail store on Main street and in addition supplies Butter-Nut bread to The Tilden Store, The Standard Grocery, W.H. Poole, J.J. Grove, The Fair Store, The Ames Cafe, The Pennant Cafe, The Northwestern Lunch Room, The Twin Owl, The College Y.M.C.A. Cafeteria, and the Grand Avenue Cafe.

The formal opening of the new factory will be held between the hours of 7 and 10 tomorrow evening.  Refreshments will be served and souvenirs will be given to the children.



Ames Daily Tribune-Times, August 31, 1931

Quality rules, first and foremost over all else, in the Bates Baking company plant at 407-409 Duff avenue.  It takes but a casual inspection of this modernly equipped establishment to determine that this is no idle catchword.  It is first determined by the taste of products of these ovens.  It is definitely proved by labels on wholesale supplies neatly stacked in the storeroom, labels bearing national prestige of outstanding quality, commonly known to discriminating housewives.

Flour, bought a carload at a time, high grade flour for Butter-Nut bread; the best whole wheat flour; special pastry flour for cookies, doughnuts, long johns, bismarks and pies; an extra special grade for cakes.  There are crates of strictly fresh tested eggs.  Nothing else is permitted.  A high grade of yeast, kept in a special refrigerator, and the finest of lards for shortenings are other items.

Butter-Nut bread, white and whole wheat, is the staple product of the Bates bakery, manufactured under special patents obtained 18 years ago by W.S. Bates, who produced the first wrapped bread ever sold in Ames.  This bakery still holds the exclusive rights in this city for the manufacture and sale of this trade-marked product.

Baking begins at 10 o'clock every night, in the modernly equipped plant.  Scarcely a hand touches the bread from start to finish.  It is mixed automatically, divided and rounded in machines, than allowed to rise in steam controlled proofers.  Machinery again takes it, molds it, drops it into pans, and again it goes into steam proofers for rising until it reaches the oven stage.  The huge oven has a capacity of 400 loaves at a time.  After baking, machinery wraps each loaf carefully in waxed paper stamped with Bates Butter-Nut label.

Mr. Bates was in the baking business for 30 years, starting in Denver, and later moving to Des Moines.  Twenty years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Bates came to Ames and for five years were in business on Main street.  About 15 years ago, the Munn Lumber company, which owned the site where the bakery stands, consented to erect a modern structure to be leased to Mr. and Mrs. Bates as a bakery.

For several years prior to his death recently, Mr. Bates had been ill, and Mrs. Bates conducted the business.  She intends to continue.  Mrs. Bates resides at 115 1/2 Fifth street.  She has one daughter.



Ames Daily Tribune-Times, August 31, 1931

Sale of the Bates Baking company bakery by Mrs. W.S. Bates to J.A. Brown of Omaha, was announced Monday.  The new proprietor is taking possession at once, the transaction having been consummated recently following extended negotiations between the two parties.  There will be no change in the general policy of operation of the bakery which will continue under its present name, Mr. Brown stated.  The bakery will, however, on Wednesday start production of a new five-cent loaf of Butter-Nut bread, the trade brand of bread the bakery has produced for some time.

Mr. Brown has been in the bakery business for the past 15 years, serving as production manager for the Schulze Baking company in Des Moines, and more recently as plant manager for the Omar Baking company in Omaha, producing baked goods to supply 63 retail wagon routes.  Mr. Brown is married and has five children, all in school in Omaha.  At the close of the school term, Mrs. Brown and the children will move to Ames.

The Bates bakery has been an Ames institution for the past 20 years, Mr. and Mrs. Bates coming to Ames from Des Moines.  Mr. Bates started in the baking business in Denver, 30 years ago.  The Ames bakery was located for the first five years on Main street, and since then in the building specially erected for Mr. and Mrs. Bates at the present location, 407-409 Duff avenue.  Mr. Bates was in ill health for several years, and passed away about a year ago.  Since then, Mrs. Bates has conducted the business.

The bakery is one of the most modernly equipped, and always has maintained a high standard of quality in its food products.  The Bates Butter-Nut bread has achieved a prominent place among Ames products.  In concluding her career in the baking business, Mrs. Bates has expressed her appreciation to the many patrons of the bakery for their patronage and support.  In passing the business over to Mr. Brown, she has first obtained assurance that the same quality and standards of production in the bakery will be maintained.