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DECATUR — Tate & Lyle is one of the city's most successful businesses and owner of perhaps its most recognizable landmark.
Tate & Lyle came to Decatur in 1988, purchasing A.E. Staley Mfg. Co., a longtime Decatur employer.
Already successful in the starch business in Maryland, A.E. Staley came to Decatur and purchased a defunct starch making plant in 1909. He made the necessary repairs and improvements and opened the doors for his business in 1912.
The business thrived in Decatur, leading to the construction of one of the city's most iconic sights: the A.E. Staley Mfg. Co. Building on East Eldorado Street. The grand office building opened in 1930.
“This building really is Decatur,” said Laura Jahr, director of the Staley Museum, which opened last year to recognize the company's legacy. “For Staley, it was crown jewel of his business empire. It represents Decatur's industrial history.”
Staley built the 14-story neo-gothic structure in 1930 to house his growing agro-industrial business, and it became known as the "Castle in the Cornfields."
“Many thousands of tourists from all over the country will pass by that building every year and the structure we plan will make them remember 'Staley' and Decatur as nothing else could do,” Staley said in a 1928 Decatur Herald article.
Tate & Lyle acquired the business in 1988. Its headquarters moved to Hoffman Estates in 2010, but the building still houses operations.
The Decatur site includes Tate & Lyle's production operations, an administration building, research and development labs and full pilot plant capabilities, according to the company. It is one of Decatur's largest employers with more than 500 workers.
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