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Serviving the Great Depression
The 1930s brought hard times to most companies, but Villaume Box and Lumber managed to stay afloat and support several families. One of their most memorable undertakings during the era was making all the interior wood finishing for the new St. Paul City and County Courthouse. Because the Depression had substantially reduced the cost of materials and labor below those that the architects had anticipated when they were initially planning this government building, they revised some of their plans to include more elegant building materials and fixtures. Villaume was the logical firm to provide what was needed.
The St. Paul Dispatch commented on the company's work. "The largest collection of rare woods in the world has been used in finishing the interior of St. Paul's new City Hall and Courthouse," the newspaper stated: Europe, Africa and the orient, India, Mexico and the South Sea Islands as well as the forests of America all have contributed some logs to the making of the veneer used generally in finishing many of the rooms and corridors.... For some rooms in the building, it was necessary to cut seven or eight logs before one could be found to furnish the properly matched veneer for the entire room.
The City and County Courthouse was opened to the public in December 1932, the same year the Villaume Company celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The company printed and distributed an elegant booklet, which surveyed the history and accomplishments of their organization. It also featured each of Eugene's sons. The brothers started working in their father's plant at an early age, the text read, "learning the business from the ground up."