Briggs House I
Architect: John M. Van Osdel
Location: NE corner of Wells and Randolph Streets
Life Span: 1856-1871
Chicago Tribune, March 17, 1856
THE BRIGGS HOUSE—AN ENLARGEMENT.—We were yesterday shown at the architectural office of Messrs. Van Osdel & Bauman, the plans for the enlargement of the Briggs House, which are to be executed as soon as the weather will permit the commenced of operations.
The Wells street front is to be extended back to the alley, a distance of fifty-eight feet. This will give eighty-three more lodging rooms and a new dining-room fifty-eight by sixty-four feet.
The present dining-room is to be converted into private rooms and a large private dining room. This enlargement will make the building one of the most extensive hotels in the West, eighty by one hundred and eighty feet, and the names of Messrs. Floyd & French are ample assurance that it will be unsurpasse as a delightful home for the traveling world.
Mr. Frederick Letz is the owner of the present Hotel, builds the south or adjoining twenty feet. The improvement will probably be completed sometime during the current summer.
Chicago Tribune, February 7, 1866
THE BRIGGS HOUSE.—
The Briggs, which has ever succeeded in uniting those rare elements of hotel character, popularity and respectability, is about to materially increase its claims to public patronage. During the coming season it will be raised some four feet two inches to grade, the lower part completely remodelled, and the entire house refurnished at an expense of some fifty thousand dollars.
The Briggs House being raised
The Americans at Home, by David McCrae, Scotland, 1867
Great blocks of masonry in some parts of the city have been lifted up from four to fourteen feet. The Brigg’s House, a gigantic hotel, was rasied four and a half feet, and new foundation built below. The people were in it all the time, coming and going, eating and sleeping the whole business of the hotel preceeding without interruption. The Tremont House, another large hotel, was lifted the same way.
Chicago Illustrated, July, 1866
THE BRIGGS HOUSE, one of the first-class Hotels of Chicago, was built in 1854 and it, by William Briggs, Esq., whose name it bears.
It was opened for guests on the 1st of May, 1855, under proprietorship of Floyd and French. It continued under their charge until March, 1858, when it passed into the hands of the present proprietors, William F. Tucker and Company.
In 1866, the building was raised from its foundation 4 feet 2 inches, to suit the altered grade, and is one of the most complete and aesthetically arranged hotels in the city.
The Briggs House has always been celebrated for the comfort, neatness, quiet, and admirable order of its appointments, and also for the excellence of its table and the general hospitality of its proprietors.
The rooms are large, well lighted and ventilated, and it can accommodate comfortably 500 guests.
The house has recently been refitted and refurnished throughout, and in keeping with the advanced style of the leading hotels of the country.
It has a front on Randolph Street of 80 feet, and extends north on Wells Street 180 feet.
The following gentlemen constitute the staff of the establishment:
William F. Tucker and Co., Proprietors; George H. French, Superintendent; William F. Wentworth, Cashier; Fred. Burnham, Clerk.
Brigg’s House Menu
The Great Fire at Chicago—Scene in Wells Street—The Terrified Populace in Front of the Briggs House—Which has just Caught Fire
Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper—28 October 1871—From a sketch by their Special Artist
History of Chicago: From 1857 until the fire of 1871, by Alfred T. Andreas, 1884
The Briggs House, occupying the same site, both before and after the fire, was built in 1853, by William Briggs, and its first proprietors were George H. French and John Floyd, who opened the house in April of the following year. Messrs. Floyd and French conducted the house until in May, 1858, when, having been seriously crippled, financially, by the panic of the preceding year, they were forced to dispose of their interest to W. F. Tucker and J. H. Silsby. Mr. French, being an old and experienced hotel man, was retained in the house as manager under the new firm, and, in fact, was connected with it in various capacities, under its different owners, until his death, which occurred in this city in April, 1870. His former partner, Mr. Floyd, went South, to Montgomery, Alabama, where he died sometime during the War. Mr. Tucker remained the proprietor of the Briggs until, in 1867, B. H. Skinner, formerly of the old Metropolitan, assumed control, which he retained until June 17, 1871, when it was purchased by W. F. Wentworth and C. D. Woolworth, who were its proprietors when it was destroyed in October of that year. It is said of the Briggs House that, from the time of its opening and until it was burned, it had always proved a source of profit to its proprietors. The most unfortunate men ever connected with it were Messrs. Wentworth & Woolworth, who lost their all on the memorable 9th of October.
Aurora of the Valley, Newbury, Vermont, July 1, 1871
We notice that Mf. Frank W. Wentworth, formerly a clerk in the store of Hatch & Tuxbury, in this place, is now one of the proprietors of the Briggs House, Chicago, Ill., in the firm of Wentworth, Woolworth & Co. The house sustains a high reputation and can accomodate 400 guests, having 250 rooms. Travelers to the West will find at the Briggs House every reasonable comfort, and in Mr. Wentworth, they will have a genial and attentive host.
NE corner of Wells and Randolph Streets
NE corner of Wells and Randolph Streets
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
Chicago Tribune, October 14, 1871
The Briggs House is at the Laclede Hotel, near Madison street bridge, where hosts Wentworth & Woolworth can be found ready to entertain guests.