Opened in 1896, the central building of the Elias Poulopoulos hat factory originally occupied an entire city block, covering 3,500 metres-squared. Old photographs of the industrial complex, located at the end of Herakleidon Street, show it surrounding a central yard with a tall chimney emanating from the factory.
Initially a single-storey structure, with a second storey added later, this superb example of industrial architecture was built using curved stone with neoclassical elements, pilasters, Doric columns and a tiled roof. Other features include the use of iron in the factory’s construction, along with the coloured sign on the building’s façade bearing the company’s logo. ‘Pil-Poul’ hats, the factory’s main product, were famous at the time, and at its peak between 1920 and 1930 the factory employed 400 workers.
During World War II, the factory suffered catastrophic damage, its chimney being demolished along with other sections of the structure. Damage from shrapnel and bullets is still visible today. The building, now listed as protected, houses the Melina Mercouri Municipal Cultural Centre, hosting many exhibitions, lectures and cultural events.
The old building is also home to the permanent exhibition of the Greek Literary and Historical Archive (ELIA).