Dale Building, Lowell Building
Zearing Building. Law Building
Life Span: 1886-1955/1990
Location: 308-316 Dearborn (old); 422 S. Dearborn, south of Van Buren Street (Dale)
318 Dearborn (old); 434-36 S. Van Buren (Zearing)
Architect: John M. Van Osdel
Chicago Tribune, November 15, 1885
Architect J. M. Van Osdel has planned and let contracts for a seven-story building, 100 feet front, on Dearborn street, running through to Fourth avenue for John T. Dale, to cost $50,000. The lot upon which the building will stand is owned by Jacon Rehm, who has leased it to Mr. Dale for ninety-nine years, at a rental not stated. Mr. Dale is also the owner of the 100-feet front of seven-story buildings adjoining this lot on the north. Mr. Van Osdel also reports plans for a seven-story building 25 feet front, to be erected next the proposed Dale building on the south, for Judge Zearing, a well-known attorney.
John M. Van Osdel Accounting Book
Chicago Tribune, November 7, 1886
Activities on Dearborn Street.
The effort to make Dearborn street south of Van Buren a printers’ locality has proved successful. Several new enterprises have already been reported, snd there are more under consideration. It is rumored that Knight & Leonard are goinf to occupy the Bines building on Dearborn street and Third avenue, about half way between Van Buren and Harrison. The advance in prices has been very considerable. An offer of $50,000 was made for the southwest corner of Dearborn and Harrison, 50×62, where the Kellogg building is now going up, as soon as the foundations were started, and a little later a bid of $55,000 was made. Since then a sale at the rate of $1,000 a foot have been made of a lot north of Harrison on Dearborn and Fourth avenue, where a building is now being erected. Offers of $1,000 a foot have been made on Dearborn and Third avenue north of Harrison, but the owners prefer to lease. As far south as Polk street $700 a foot is offered.
John M. Van Osdel Accounting Book
Chicago Tribune, January 8, 1888
At 4 o’clock yesterday evening the emplovés in the printing department of the Emmert Proprietary Company and the McIntosh Battery Company, at Nos. 300 to 306 Dearborn street quit work. The two companies occupied the first. second. sixth, and top floors of the seven-story brick, and the printing department was on the sixth floor of what is known as the Dale Building. A few of the printers remained to straighten matters out for Sunday, and they were engrossed in their work till shortly after 5 o’clock, when an odor of smoke permeated the room.1
Several men started to investigate the cause of the smoke, but after a careful search on the sixth floor no fire could be discovered. By this time the floor upon which the men were was filling with smoke, and a hasty exit was made to the door below. A search for origin of the fire was made on this floor, and a blaze was discovered in a pile of rags in the steam shaft—the opening through which belting for the machines is run. The blaze was very small, but the smoke from the greasy rags drove back the printers, and they sounded an alarm through the building. Only about a dozen persons were in the offices at the time, and those made their way as quickly as possible out of the building. The small blaze, surrounded by material of the most inflammable sort, made rapid progress, and but a few minutes after its discovery it had spread throughout the floor and was eating its way upward.
The smoke commenced pouring from the fifth-story windows, and was seen by Officer Fitzgerald, who was crossing Dearborn street at Van Buren. He rushed to a patrol box and notified the armory, but before engine company No. 10 could be called some one else had seen the fire and pulled box No. 57. This was at 5:11 o’clock, and before the smoke was displaced by flames, a broad red sheet having burst from all the windows of this floor. The crowds which are always downtown at this time of evening and especially Saturdays were startled by the rattle of the fire engines, and simultaneously the rapidly-spreading flames became a bright signal-light to attract thousands to the spot. The successive alarms brought constant reinforcements of fire apparatus for at least half an hour, and great difficulty was experienced in getting bthrough the throngs of people. Assistant Fire Marshal Musham gave a second alarm at 5:16 o’clock, and at 5:23½ o’clock Chief Swenie turned in a third alarm. The fire became very threatening at about this time. Schniedwend & Lee’s big printing house on the opposite side of Dearborn street was scorched and smoldering, and the blocks adjoining the Dale Building were blazing on the roofs. Chief Swenie sent in a special call for ten engines at 5:31 o’clock, and within this large force set to work to confine the fire and save the lower floors if possible. The crowd continued to grow, and in a short time almost equaled that which witnessed the Phelps, Dodge & Palmer fire a short time ago. The force of police on hand was the largest which has been used at a down-town fire for years. Capt. Hubbard, with Lieuts. Beadell and Fitzpatrick, formed a line with about seventy men around the north approaches on Fourth avenue and Dearborn street, extending along Van Buren street, and at the south approaches Capt. Bartram was stationed with his two Lieutenants and his entire day force, including the reserve men.
The three upper floors were soon a solid furnace of fire, and a whirlwind of sparks careened upward and drifted eastward. Embers and pieces of blazing wood a foot long fell in showers into the street and upon neighboring buildings. A steady falling of glass on the stone pavement was succeeded by a heavier shower of broken stone from the copin above the top story. The heat became intense and the Schniedewend-Lee block directly opposite was scorched from bottom to top. The steaming front poured forth a fresh hail-storm of shivered window-panes, and between the two fusillades the middle of the street was the only safe place to stand. Bartell Bros’. oil store house, No. 307 Dearborn street, was smoking from the liberal baptism of embers. A chemical company brought a stream to play upon it. Other chemical companies were disposed in convenient places and nipped several incipient fires.
The narrowness of Fourth avenue did not offer a good opportunity to reach the blaze, and while one company entered the lower part of the building with a stream from this side, the stand-pipe was brought up and set to playing on the upper floors. The line of low buildings on the opposite side were convenient vantage points, from the roofs of which three streams did effective work. The eight-story block of Clark & Longley, on the south, was also occupied by several companies, while the hose festooned the front of the building along the fire-escapes. The edge of the roof of this building was constantly blazing, and a stream from the street was at one time turned upon te upper stories, they having caught fire along the front.
The apparatus in front of the Dearborn street wall was cleared away at 5:45 o’clock, when the wall threatened to come over, and a moment later it crumbkled and fell into the street. It broke off just above the fourth story and left a jagged remnant clinging to the division fire wall on each side. Engine Companies Nos. 1 and 21 were then siamesed, and north of them were placed Engine Company No. 32 with a single stream and also No. 13 on Truck 6’s ladder. After this the fire rapidly burned itself out under the tremendous load of water which was being thrown upon it. It was well under control before 6 o’clock, and half an hour later was practically out. The three lower floors were saved from the flames, though drowned in water. The building above the fourth floor is completely destroyed, and all firms above the third floor suffer an entire loss of their stock.
The Losses and the Losers.
The total loss on building and contents will reach nearly $175,000. The burned building, a seven-story brick, Nos. 300 to 306 Dearborn street, is owned jointly by John T. Dale, the lawyer, and S. E. Hart, printer. It was erected in 1885 at a cost of $70,000, and was insured for $40,000. The four upper floors having fallen in the street walls are greastly injured, and the loss will about equal the insurance. The first floor was occupied by two companies—the Emmert Proprietary and the McIntosh Battery. The Emmert Company handles patent medicines and the other batteries and microscopical instruments. The President of both companies is John S. Emmert. A good deal of machinery is used in connection with the business, which was all placed on the top floor. The companies also occupied the first and second floors as store-rooms and salesrooms, and on the sixth floor had a printing-office. These two companies are the heaviest losers, and their loss will probably foot up $75,000 on machinery and stock, the McIntosh company being the heaviest loser, the firm estimating the value of its stock and machinery at a $50,000. This is fully insured. The Emmert company’s policies also cover the losses.
The Campbell Printing Press Company had in the neighborhood of $25,000 worth of stock, besides the machinery, tools, and office fixtures and furniture. Their total loss is about to $30,000, upon which there was insurance to the amount of $19,000, divided as follows: which $15,000 on stock, $2,000 on office furnityre and fixtures, and $2,000 on the machinery and tools.
The third floor was occupied by John J. Hanlon, bankbook manufacturer, who employed some twenty-five men. His loss will be about $8,000, covered by insurance. On the fifth floor, where the fire started, were Eugene Baker and Fred Hart, printers, whose loss is complete, about $5,000 each. The other occupants all of whom sustain losses of about $1,000 each, are McGill Bros., C.H. Cushing, Manning & Thatcher, L.L. Giffand, W.F. Kellert, and Phelps, Dodge & Palmer, who had a small printing office in the building. Among the companies interested in the loss on the building are: Hamberg-Bremen, $1,000; Transatlantic, $2,000; People’s of New Hampshire, $1,000; Washington & Boston, $1,000; Granit State, $1,000; Spring Garden, $2,000; Fire Association of Philadelphia, $2,000; Merchants’ of Cleveland, $1,000; Queen of England, $2,000.
The Dale Building, Nos. 296 and 298 Dearborn street, just north of the Dale-Hart Block, was scorched and badly wet down with water. About $2,500 will repair the damage. The occupants all suffer small losses, aggregating perhaps $3,500 or $3,500. They are the Union Type-Foundry Company, C. Gentile, Weston Printing Company, National Harness Review Company, C. Biele Electric-Apparatus Company, Northwestern Lumberman, Eye and Ear Journal, Copelin (photographer), Western Rural, Merchants’ Publishing Company, National Harness Journal, and a large number of smaller weekly publications.2
Schniedewend & Lee’s building was damaged to the extent of $1,000, and Clark & Longley and Poole Bros., printers, in the block south of the one burned, will each lose about the same amount.
Chicago Tribune, April 12, 1889
SOUTH DEARBORN STREET SALES.
The Purchasers Pay Fair Prices and Believe in the Future.
John T. Davis has sold to the Thayer estate of Boston 100×67 feet on Dearborn street, with the building numbered 308-316, for $215,000. The land has about 200 feet south of Van Buren street and extends through to Fourth avenue. The building, which has eight stories, was built about five years ago and is rented to six tenants, most of them printing establishments, at rates which will return the Thayer estate about 6 per cent net on the purchase price. Bryan Lathrop, who represents the purchasers, says that the price was determined largely by the income capacity of the property, although his clients believe that the future of South Dearborn street cannot be estimated according to the present conditions of things. J. S. Hair & Co. managed the deal for the seller.
Gwynne, Davis & Co. have just negotiated the sale of fifty feet of ground in the vicinity of the Dale Building. For Mrs. Annie Hudson they have sold the south half of Lot 21, Block 123 School Section Addition, for $26,000, and for Eugene S. Pike the north half of Lot 22, same block, for $25,700. The two pieces are adjoining and measure 25×67 feet each, extending through to Fourth avenue and lying between Van Buren and Harrison streets. They are sold to the same purchaser, who intends to improve the property at an early day with a fine building.
Zearing Building and Dale (Lowell) Building
Atlas of Chicago
Greeley Carlson Company
Rand McNally’s Birds’-Eye-Views of Chicago 1893
Printing-house Row, from Van Buren Street.
The page (below) portrays faithfully the extraordinary double row of high buildings which lines Dearborn Street between Van Buren and Harrison streets. This is Printing-house Row so called from the large number of printing-offices included within its limits. Among the high structures of this group, described elsewhere, are the ① Old Colony, the ② Girard, the ③ Manhattan, the ④ Monon, the ⑤ Como, the ⑥ Caxton, the ⑦ Pontiac,, and the ⑧ Ellsworth.
Arrow indicates the location of the Zearing and Dale buildings, which were located between the Monon and Girard buildings.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
1John S. Emmet was born on April 10, 1825, in Berks county, Pennsylvania. In 1846 he moved to Freeport, Ill., where he, with a brother, entered the drug tarde. In 1870 Mr. Emmert came to Chicago and organized the Emmert Proprietary Company. Her also organized the McIntosh Battery and Optical Company, on Wabash avenue, but lately he relinquished all interests in these enterprises. At time of his death, in 1896, Mr. Emmert was an officer and stockholder in the Chicago Sewing Machine and Monarch Cycling companies, now consolidated.
2 The Northwestern Lumberman and The Timberman magazines merged on January 1, 1899, into one publication known as the American Lumberman. The magazine then became Building Materials Merchandiser in 1961 and in 1972 became Home Center magazine, which still exists.