Thomson & Taylor Spice Co
Life Span: 1890-TBD
Location: Nos. 66-72 Michigan Ave (NE Corner of Michigan & Lake)
Chicago Tribune, October 9, 1881
COFFEE, SPICES, ETC.
Thomson & Taylor.
The most extensive establishment for the manufacture and sale of coffee and spices has its home and headquarters in Chicago. The “Western Coffee and Spice Mills” have now been in successful operation since 1865. Twice since that time has fire totally destroyed, the entire stock and machinery of the concern.
The establishment, now located at Nos. 34, 36, 38 and 40 South Water street, occupying the whole of that large building, is the largest and most complete of its kind in the country, giving employment to over 100 employés of both sexes.
Mr. A. Thomson, the senior member of the firm, laid the foundation of the business. After the great fire of 1871 he associated with him Mr. J. E. Taylor, of the firm of Whiting, Taylor & Co., and the new firm became known as Thomson & Taylor, and has never been changed. In 1877 Mr. E. A. Downs was admitted to an interest in the business, which he still retains.
In January, 1881, the firm found it necessary to open a branch of their house in St. Louis, and Mr. J. H. Hanley, who had been traveling salesman for the firm, was admitted to an interest in the business, with headquarters at St. Louis. The business of the firm is conducted at St. Louis at Nos. 513 and 515 North Second street, and is rapidly winning its way to popularity.
While this house makes a specialty of roasted and ground coffees, and whole and ground spices, they are also extensive manufacturers of ball and can potash, concentrated lye, dry and liquid blueing, stove polish, flavoring extracts, baking-powders, etc. Messrs. Thomson & Taylor do an extensive business in mustard, their sales in that article being over 10,000 pounds a month.
The business of this firm reaches all over the Western States and Territories as far as civilization extends. Their business throughout the West is confined exclusively to the jobbing trade, and they have secured for Chicago the trade that formerly went to the large cities of the East.
This firm are proprietors of the celebrated “Magnolia” brand of roasted coffee, their sales of that article being very extensive.
Thompson & Taylor Spice Co Building
34, 36, 38 & 40 South Water Street
Robinson Fire Insurance Map
Chicago and Its Resources, Twenty Years After, Chicago Times, 1891
Thomson & Taylor Spice Co.,
Nos. 66 to 72 Michigan Avenue, Chicago, manufactures of ground spices, flavoring extracts, baking powders and roasted and ground coffee for the trade. This is said to be the largest house of the kind in the world. It was started by A. M. Thomson in 1865, with a capital of $2,000. It was succeeded in 1868 by A. M. and J. Thomson, and incorporated with a paid-up capital of $200,000 in 1884, and increased to $300,000 in 1888. It carries a stock of about $600,000, and its annual business averages about $3,000,000. It occupies the entire seven-story building and basement, where its business is located, and still stores large quantities of goods in warehouses in the vicinity. One hundred and sixty-seven hands are employed, exclusive of the officers of the company. The product is sold almost exclusively in the United States. The firm does a large importing business in spices, essential oils, vanilla beans and indigo. Both Alexander M., the President, and James Thomson, Secretary and Treasurer, were born in Scotland, and came to this country in 1852, came to Chicago in 1854. C. J. Manchester, the Vice-President, is an American, and was born in Ohio, but he has been so long connected with Chicago, that he is in all respects a Chicago man. In the fitting up of the works, an extensive line of machinery is used for cleaning, sorting and separating green coffee, and the company has in constant use twenty-two of the latest improved cylinders of the largest capacity. The goods of this concern have attained a deserved celebrity throughout the whole West and Northwest, and are regarded as standard in the trade.
Turn over this leaf (below), and see the magnificent building on the next page devoted to the business of Thomson & Taylor Spice Company, and the reader will be able to form a better idea of its magnitude.
Standard Guide to Chicago, 1891
Thomson & Taylor Spice Company.—located at Michigan ave. and Lake st. This is one of the largest houses of its kind in the world, and its business of late has been growing immensely. The new building of the company is a decided ornament to the grocery district. It is about ninety feet wide by 130 feet long, with light on three sides. It is seven stories high, giving a total height above ground of about eighty-five feet. Boilers and engine of 200 horse-power are located in the basement for driving the machinery throughout the building and the electric light plant. The coffee machinery occupies the top story and parts of the sixth and fifth. There are twenty-two roasters in one line, with coolers and stoners of corresponding capacity, and a most complete outfit for polishing, milling and separating green coffee in large quantities. The establishment is the most perfectly equipped of any in existence in the country, and is worthy of a visit from strangers.
Excerpted from Coffee: Its History and Growth, Thomson & Taylor Co., 1898
Briefly, the P. P. C. Gas Roaster is a large iron cylinder fitted inside with a series of wheels or fans, which keep the coffee in motion, throwing it through a large flame of gas which is injected into the cylinder from the rear. The coffee is placed in a hopper in the top, and passes through, becoming thoroughly and properly roasted in about ten minutes. At the front of the machine is an automatic sampler, which displays about a tablespoonful of the coffee after each passage through the flame, thus keeping the roasting man posted on the condition of things inside the machine.
This sample of coffee may be taken from the sampler, but unless removed, it is automatically sent back into the interior again.
The P.P.C. Gas Roasting Plant
Thompson & Taylor Spice Co.
Thompson & Taylor Spice Co Building
Michigan and Lake Streets
Inter Ocean, March 20, 1910
Real Estate Deals.
Two significant transfers appeared oa the records Monday, by which it appears that John D. Warfield, president of the Thomson & Taylor Spice company, has purchased 419 feet frontage on Lumber street in the immediate vicinity of W. M. Hoyt & Co.’s new location. The property is at the northeast corner of Twenty-Second street, with a large river frontage. The place at the corner, 270×150 feet, was bought from the Illinois Stone company for $70,000, and the adjoining piece, 149×152 feet, was acquired from Walter Sheriffs for $42,422.
It is said that the property was secured as a protective measure. In the event of Michigan avenue being mad a boulevard from Randolph street north the present location of the Thomson & Taylor company will not be suitable for their requirements, and the new property will bo held for improvement.
Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1911
Michigan Avenue Leases and Sales.
Thomson-Taylor Spice company to David H. Gaines and Clifford Langley, seven story building and leasehold estate in 88×130 feet of ground at northeast corner of Lake street for $175,000.
Chicago Tribune, September 3, 2014
Alexander Thomson and James Taylor, both packagers and purveyors of coffee and spices before the Chicago Fire, became partners around 1873. They set up shop in the old South Water Market, where the city’s wholesale food and grocery businesses were clustered.
Located at Michigan ave. and Lake st. This is one of the largest houses of its kind in the world, and its business of late has been growing immensely. The new building of the company is a decided ornament to the grocery district. It is about ninety feet wide by 130 feet long, with light on three sides. It is seven stories high, giving a total height above ground of about eighty-five feet. Boilers and engine of 200 horse-power are located in the basement for driving the machinery throughout the building and the electric light plant. The coffee machinery occupies the top story and parts of the sixth and fifth. There are twenty-two roasters in one line, with coolers and stoners of corresponding capacity, and a most complete outfit for polishing, milling and separating green coffee in large quantities. The establishment is the most perfectly equipped of any in existence in the country, and is worthy of a visit from strangers.
When their business outgrew its quarters, Thomson and Taylor decided to build outside downtown, along the South Branch of the river at 500 W. Cermak. Their factory and warehouse was completed in 1911, expanded in 1917. Architects Chatten & Hammond clad the building in face brick and added geometric terra cotta decorations to create an industrial building handsome enough to serve as a symbol of the company.
This building is also a site of paranormal activity.
Thomson & Taylor Spice Co Advertisement
Thomson & Taylor Spice Co.
Nos. 66-72 Michigan Ave
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map