History of Topeka Blueprint Co.
The Topeka Blueprint Co. was established in 1927 as an outgrowth of the Parr Map and Engineering Co. Arthur McPherson Mills Jr. was a draftsman for Parr when they were purchased by the H.M. Gousha Map Co. and moved to Kansas City, MO. During this time Parr had operated a Sun Frame on the roof of their office at 624 Kansas Ave. for the purpose of making blueprints of their drawings. This process required the exposure of translucent drawings made on either vellum or cloth to a sensitized paper for a period of 4 to 10 minutes (depending on how much sunlight was available). This was a negative working process producing prints with a white line and dark blue background, hence the term Blueprint. When Parr left Topeka, “Mac” Mills purchased the Sun Frame, and along with one other former employee (Anna Zamborski), began the Topeka Blueprint Co.
During the late 1920’s and early 1930’s the business flourished and two branch locations were opened, one in Wichita, Kansas and another in Sioux City, Iowa. As the depression hit the mid-west in the early 30’s, these offices were closed and all efforts were put into saving the primary location. The major thrust of the business in this period was in producing County road maps. This was prior to the establishment of the Kansas Highway Commission and each county was required to provide its own roadway mapping. Topeka Blueprint put together an atlas of blueprints showing all of the roads in Kansas. These atlas’s sold very well during the 1930’s and along with an emerging Architectural and Engineering construction industry, were the basis for the survival of the fledgling blueprint business.
New equipment was introduced during this era for the continuous production of blueprints using carbon arc lights and a roll fed sensitized paper which was exposed, washed, developed with a potash application, rewashed and dried in one long process. Some of these machines were as much as 20 feet long with myriads of rollers, water tanks and large gas operated drying cylinders. These machines were operated well into the 1960’s as the primary method of reproducing copies of large original drawings. The Photostat machine was also developed in the early 1930’s for copying smaller documents. This was basically a photographic process that also provided reduction and enlargement capabilities and was again a negative working process. The primary focus of this equipment was in copying Drivers Licenses, Marriage Licenses, Discharge papers and other important documents.
As World War II came along, the private construction industry ground to a halt, although Government construction flourished with the building of many Army Bases in Kansas. During this period from 1942 to 1946, Mac Mills became the Reproduction Manager for the Sunflower Ordinance Works in DeSoto, Ks. and commuted from Topeka To DeSoto for four years while Anna Zamborski kept the blueprint business operation in Topeka.
At the conclusion of World War II, the private construction industry began to thrive again and Topeka Blueprint started an ongoing growth pattern that continues to this day. Investing in new methods of reproducing large and small documents such as: Diazo printing (positive blueline prints exposed with quartz lamp and developed in ammonia), Xerographic copying (replacing Photostats), Offset printing (for high speed duplicating), Digital Laser Color Copying, and Digital Engineering Copiers to provide plain paper copies from scanned originals, compact disks, zip disks, jaz disks, floppies or electronic files sent to us by FTP, e-mail or direct-modem.
In 1961 A.M. Mills III (Sandy) joined the business and became President of the Corporation in 1966 upon the death of his father Mac Mills. Since this time, Topeka Blueprint Co. has expanded in size and capability to provide service to an ever growing Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry in Eastern Kansas.
In 1996 Topeka Blueprint Co., Inc. became an ESOP firm, owned by all its employees. Craig Trapp is now President and Topeka Blueprint continues its primary goal of providing fast, efficient service and high quality reproduction work to their clientele.