Morrison Block I
Life Span: 1871-1871
Location: SE corner of Madison and Clark Streets
Architect: Carter & Drake
The Land Owner, February, 1871
THE MORRISON BLOCK, CORNER OF CLARK AND MADISON STREETS, CHICAGO.
The building which we herewith present adds another to the already long list of elegant and substantial business edifices that have been erected in this city during the past season. It stands on the south-east corner of Clark and Madison streets, and presents an appearance to the observer that is not easily forgotten.
The building, just completed for occupancy, has been erected by the Morrison estate, under the supervision of G. W. Spofford, Esq., and the architects, Messrs. Carter and Drake. It is of white limestone, elaborately carved, with heavy cornices and projections, and is one of the most attractive business edifices in the West. The engraving shows its details so perfectly, that it would be useless for us to recapitulate them in the text, as the mind is much easier impressed by the sight.
The building is now almost wholly occupied by the following well-known and substantial business firms:
Cor. Clark and Madison Streets
MESSRS. STANTON & CO.
This favorably-known grocery house, which was first established in this city in 1859, occupies the large store forming the angle, which, to accommodate their extensive business, have all been thrown into one magnificent salesroom. It is fitted in black walnut of a very rare and unique pattern, at a large expense, and is without question the handsomest as well as the largest and best appointed retail grocery house in the country. It forms the third store of the firm, they having been long established at their old stands on State and Lake streets, which are kept in operation the same as before, this magnificent corner store was opened to the public.
BOSTON SQUARE-DEALING ONE PRICE CLOTHING STORE.
The next store on Clark street is occupied by Messrs. Willoughby, Hill & Co., clothiers, who established themselves there early in October, last. This firm has branch houses in Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, Albany, Troy, New Haven, Bridgeport, and other cities. They manufacture yearly over two million dollars worth of men’s, youths’, and children’s clothing. Last year they made up over 700,000 different garments, often consuming all the goods manufactured by certain mills for three to six months at a time. They have in all a chain of twenty-two stores, and have established a name for dealing that is its own precursor of success.
MESSRS. BRADNER, SMITH & CO.
Passing around the block to the Madison street side, we find another new edifice adjoining it on the east, erected at the same time by Mr. Rosenberg, a capitalist of Chicago, and corresponding with the Morrison block in appearance. Here is an immense double store, 192×45 feet, occupied by Messrs. Bradner, Smith & Co., a well-known paper house. This firm was established on LaSalle street in 1854, from which time their business increased to such an extent that their removal was necessitated last fall to their present elegant and commodious location. Their basement is 210×45, and is used for the storage of manilla, tea, straw board and other descriptions of wrapping papers, in which they deal. Their store is without doubt the best appointed in this line of business in the country. Their upper floors are devoted to the storage of goods in cases, and contain an immense stock of cardboards, wrapping and printing papers, twines, envelopes, etc. This house manufactures the celebrated Winnebago and other papers for mercantile, express, hardware, stationery, book and printing purposes, and being strong in capital and resources—having control of several mills exclusively—they enjoy a large and constantly increasing trade.
MESSRS. SPAULDING & LAMONTE.
The next store west, No. 114 Madison street, is occupied by Messrs. Spaulding & LaMonte, printers, stationers, and bookbinders, recently removed from 128 Lake street. Their press room in the basement is 185 feet long, and contains sixteen steam presses, two of which are as large as there are in the West, and especially adapted to fine colored and cut work. They also have job and book, composing and bindery rooms, employing about 100 men in their various departments. Besides their large blank book and stationery business, this firm print a large number of regular newspapers and magazines for the publishers, among them The Little Corporal, The Western Home, The Pharmaceutist, etc.
Morrison Block I 1871 – 1871
MESSRS. JAMESON & MORSE.
Prominent among the many excellent firms occupying the new block is that of Messrs. Jameson & Morse, book and job printers, well known as one of the oldest firms in that line of business in the city, having been continuously under one management since the spring of 1856. Since their removal from La Salle street their facilities have been considerably increased, by the addition of new and improved styles of type and new machinery, while their rooms are ample, and as well adapted to business wants as any in the West. Banking, insurance, railroad, mercantile, and legal printing are given special attention, while other varieties are not neglected by them.
REAL ESTATE OFFICES OF JAS. H. KEELER.
On the second floor, entering from Clark street, is located the real estate office of Jas. H. Keeler, No. 145 Clark. Mr. Keeler has one of the finest real estate offices in the city, and does a large business in lots and lands, collecting rents, negotiating loans upon city property, managing estates, etc. His location in the new block will appear from the sign. Non-resident property holders should correspond with him.
ENHANCEMENT OF REAL ESTATE.
The erection of such a block as this has greatly enhanced the value of property in its vicinity, while its fine class of tenants has entirely changed the character of the neighborhood, and revolutionized real values for several blocks around.
Our engraving represents the entire structure on Clark street as it will appear. The last store south has not yet been completed.
From Chicago’s First Half Century, 1833-1883
Published by The Inter-Ocean
MANUFACTURERS AND DEALERS IN PAPER.
The firm of Bradner Smith & Co., manufacturers and dealers in paper, is just twenty years younger than the city of Chicago, having been established in 1853 at No. 12 La Salle street in a little store 20×60 feet in size. It was a small beginning, but the firm has kept even pace with the development of Chicago, and has kept growing each year as the city has grown until it is now the largest in Chicago, and one of the largest in the world, doing a business of $2,000,000 a year. The firm has now three establishments in the city of Chicago, branch houses at Kansas City, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, and operates six paper mills, manufacturing and selling every sort and size of news, book, wrapping, writing, blotting, and other papers, card board, envelopes, twines, wood pulp, and paper manufacturers’ supplies.
There was very little paper manufactured in the West when Bradner Smith & Co. commenced business, and most of their stock was brought from Eastern mills, but now they not only make their own stock, but supply hundreds of other houses with their manufactures, shipping paper by the train load from their several mills.
Bradner Smith & Co. commenced manufacturing in 1854 at Rockton, Ill., having that year purchased the Winnebago mill, which now makes ten tons per day of express, manilia, rag, and straw wrapping paper. They continue to operate this mill, and their other manufactories are the Ledyard Pulp Mill, at Ledyard, Wis., which makes four tons of dry ‘pulp per day; the Rozet Mill, at Three Rivers, which produces four tons per day of print and book paper; the Tippecanoe Paper Mill, at Monticello, Ind.. which makes two tons of print paper daily. The Marinette Mill, at the place of the same name in Wisconsin, manufactures five tons of print paper, and the mill at Menoimnee, Mich., produces four tons of manilla paper and six tons of wood pulp daily.
Besides their own manufactories, Bradner Smith & Co. carry all varieties of fancy goods, wedding and other stationery, imported and domestic, the Hurlbut plate paper, Crane’s pure linen flats, the Germanic flat and ledger papers, and all other classes of goods used by stationers, printers, book-binders, and publication houses. Regular sizes and standard weights are always in stock, but special sizes and weights can be made to order and furnished promptly at mill prices, the facilities of the firm for supplying the trade being unequaled by any house in the West. A full stock of colored papers is always on hand, ana fancy papers for special purposes will be made to order in quantities to suit. They are also manufacturers of the very best map paper, ana will furnish any weight or size desired at short notice. In cover papers Bradner Smith & Co. have the larirest and best-assorted stock in the country, East or West.
The firm are sole agents for the sale of Weston’s pure linen ledger and record papers, which were awarded the gold medal at the Paris Exposition and the highest award at the Centennial Exposition for a combination of all the desirable qualities. They are also sole agents for the celebrated “commercial safety paper.” for checks, notes, bills of exchange, bonds, letters of credit, etc.. which has been officially indorsed and recommended by the clearing-house authorities of the principal cities of the country. This is really a safety paper, combining positive security from fraudulent alterations, either by the use of chemical agents or mechanical means.
This paper is made from the very best materials, treated chemically in its manufacture with agents which give positive results. Any attempt at alteration by chemical means immediately destroys the color in the body of the paper, also the surface tinting or lining, which, being once destroyed, cannot be restored.
Bradner Smith & Co. make a specialty of fancy ruling, using: only the very best inks, which, for brilliancy of color and durability, are not excelled. They also carry a full line of all colors, sizes, and styles of envelopes, and will make odd sizes to order. All kinds of fancy stationery and stationers’ sundries are kept in stock, and also a full line of illustrated advertising’ cards, manufactured by Marques, Gair & Bailey, of Paris, London, and New York.
The reputation of the firm and the character of their goods needs no indorsement. A record of thirty years of active business places them at the ‘head of the trade in the West, and their references are their customers.
Chicago Tribune, September 7, 2000
Oldest City Firm Packs Up For Another Town
By Jon Anderson, Tribune Staff Writer.
It’s old, possibly the oldest commercial firm in Chicago doing business under one name. And it’s leaving town.
Over the next few weeks, Bradner Smith & Co., paper merchants, will be pulling out of a seven-story warehouse and offices at 333 S. Desplaines St. and setting up shop in a building in Elk Grove Village. The company’s 2,200 products–different sizes, colors and qualities of paper–will be stocked in a one-floor facility that thankfully, they say, has no elevators.
The move makes business sense–even if it does rip the fabric of local history.
The new quarters will have a dozen loading docks instead of the two behind the current building, built when horse-drawn Bradner Smith wagons used to haul paper over to Printers Row. Trucks will be able to zip in and out, making pickups and deliveries quickly instead of waiting in line for hours. Without elevators, product will move even faster.
Then there is the changing price of real estate.
Once, the Near West Side was, to put it mildly, untrendy. Now, ornate buildings with open floors are being cut into lofts at prices of $300,000 or more. Other space is being shaped into upscale offices, as is likely to happen with Bradner Smith’s building once sales contracts are finalized and new owners take over, probably in the fall.
Gone by mid-September will be Bradner Smith, a company that goes back to the days when Chicago was a rough backwoods town with dirt streets, 40,000 people and overtime for the makers of covered wagons heading west.
It was a time, notes a company history, “when travel was mainly by horseback, wagon or boat. There was no bridge across the Mississippi River anywhere.” Railroads were primitive. The telephone was a distant dream. The union had 31 states, the West was “largely virgin territory” and Millard Fillmore was ending his term in the White House.
“Yes, 1852 was a long time ago,” noted Richard “Rick” Bull III. His office filled with moving boxes, he took an hour off Tuesday during a busy transition period to hark back to the days when his great-great-grandfather, John Bradner Smith, helped set up the firm’s first office, a one-room operation at 12 LaSalle St., just south of the Chicago River.
Later, after several moves, the firm occupied a site later to be known as the First National Bank Plaza. Then, in 1923, it moved to its current address, a building described at the time as “one of the largest paper warehouses in the world.”
“We’ll still keep an office downtown,” said Bull, who is now president of Bradner Smith’s parent firm, Bradner Central Co., which oversees seven paper-related subsidiaries. “What happened was that our customers moved.”
In earlier days, when horses pulled carts at 3 m.p.h., “we needed to be close to the printers, to get paper to them,” Bull said. Indeed, vintage photographs on the firm’s boardroom walls show a company wagon ambling from its warehouse and stables, then at 119 Monroe St., through the streets of the Near North Side.
Now, in an age of speedy trucks, printers can be located far from their paper sources.
Indeed, some theorists wonder if, at the dawn of an era of electronic publishing, paper has had its day.
The building has since been converted to lofts and is now known as the 333 S. Des Plaines Lofts.
On Nov. 4, 2013, Central National-Gottesman Inc (CNG) acquired the assets and business of Bradner Central Company (Bradner Smith & Co.).
Bradner Smith is no more.