Drake Block I and II, Drake, Farwell & Thatcher Buildings
Life Span: 1869-1870 (I)
Location: East side of Wabash avenue between Washington and Madison streets
Architect: John M. Van Osdel
Chicago Tribune, July 20, 1869
A massive and ornamental block is also to be erected the present season on the east side of Wabash avenue, between Washington and Madison streets. On the corner of Washington street and Wabash avenue, Mr. John B. Drake will have two stores erected, which will occupy a front of 120 feet on the avenue and 81 feet on Washington street. J. V. Farwell occupies 72 feet front on the avenue, next south of Mr. Drake, with a depth of 163 feet, running back to Dearborn place. The Thatcher estate will build next to Mr. Farwell, having a front of 40 feet, and a depth of 163 feet. On the corner of Wabash avenue and Madison street, Judge Skinner will erect two stores, running 100 feet front on the avenue, and a depth of 163 feet on Madison street. This completes the block. The entire block is to possess a uniformity of design and finish. The building material will be Amherst freestone. The block will be seven stories in height, surmounted by a French, or Mansard roof. From the sidewalk to the cornice it will be 85 feet. The total height from the basement to the roof will be 116 feet. The architecture is to be a composite of Renaissance style, with ornamented domes, cornices, and trimmings—the latter to be of galvanized iron. The average value of land on the site of this block is not less than $1,500 per foot front. This estimate would make the first three lots—the Drake, Farwell, and Thatcher—worth $350,000 in round numbers. Mr. Drake’s portion will cost at least $150,000; Mr. Farwell’s, $100,000; the Thatcher, $50,000—making the total of $300,000, as the value of the building to be erected. This last, added to the estimate for the land, would show the value of the property, building, and their site, $650,000, or over half a million. When finished, the block will be the finest in the city, and not surpassed by any on the continent.
The Land Owner, March, 1870
Chicago Tribune, February 5, 1870
Messrs. Smith & Nixon and Messrs. Lyon & Healy, the well-known music dealers, have removed from the corner of Washington and Clark streets, to a larger establishment at the corner of Wabash avenue and Washington street. This is probably the finest music store in the West, if not in the entire country. Drake’s Block, in which the store is located, is perhaps the most elegantly finished building in the city, and is a fitting home for the musical trade of the Northwest.
There are other stores devoted to the business of Smith & Nixon and Lyon & Healy. The corner, No. 96, is the retail department, and has been fixed up especially for that purpose. The appointments are elegant in every respect, and nothing has been left undone to gratify the most fastidious taste. Oak and black walnut enter into the composition of the handsome counters and cases. In the corner of the room is a handsomely arranged office.
Through an arched doorway, furnished with a glass door, the visitor enters the piano room, where the famous Steinway pianos are kept in large numbers. Messrs. Smith & Nixon control the piano business. They are the sole agents for the piano in the United States. They have also a house in Cincinnati, and are the oldest and largest piano dealers in the West. Off the piano room is the organ room, where all kinds of melodeons and organs are for sale. In connection with this department is a “dead room,” where owing to its peculiar construction, the least disarrangement or defect of any instrument can be at once detected by the trained ear. These rooms are Nos. 98 and 100.
Beneath these stores is the wholesale department, where all kinds of musical instruments, string and brass, are sold to dealers. The room is arranged to suit this trade. In the basement is also the elevator, boiler rooms, steam engine, &c.
In this splendid establishment are combined four specialties familiar and important to the musical world. They are Steinway’s pianos, Burdett’s organs, Ditson’s publications, and the office of the National Independent. The entire concern is a credit to the city, and merits the success and prosperity which are the due reward of energy and enterprise.
The Drake Block I
Drake Farwell Block I
John M. Van Osdel Accounting Books
The Drake Block I
John Carbutt, Photographer
The Drake Block was under construction just after this map was published in 1869. The footprint of the building is outlined in bold, while the prior structures are screened back.
Chicago Tribune, September 5, 1870
Its Inception and Progress.
The quiet and peace which usually prevails on Sunday afternoons, was disturbed yesterday by the fire-bell striking No. 12, which proved to be the signal for the most extensive and destructive conflagration that has occurred in this city since the memorable Lake street fire on the night of February 28, 1868. At three minutes to five o’clock there was a shout of “Fire” along Madison street, which carried down LaSalle and Clark to the Court House, and persons began running towards Washington avenue, in the direction of the smoke. It was found to issue from the upper story of Laflin, Butler & Co.’s paper store, in the new and magnificent block erected about a year ago, on the east side of Wabash avenue, between Washington and Madison streets.
Gusts of Smoke
rose from the southeast rear corner of the building, growing thicker and larger every moment. The engines arrived very quickly after the alarm was sounded, and went to work to get on their streams. The attempt was a miserable failure, and precious moments were lost, not owing to lack of energy on the part of the gallant firemen, but to the false economy on the part of officials over whom they had no control. The suctions were attached to the hydrants, and the engines began to work, but before water could be thrown on the building, the hose connected with three of the engines burst, and was uselss.
The Fire Gains Rapidly,
the smoke at the corner turns into flame, and the work of destruction begins in earnest. The broken hose is repaired and replaced as rapidly as possible, but time that can never be reclaimed, and opportunities that can never be recalled are forever lost. There comes a hoisting apparatus in front of the building. Three firemen get into a sort of a bucket, and others turned a windlass to raise them up so that they can pour the water into the upper stories of the building.
But the Machinery Will Not Work.
The bucket stops half way, having caught in the mast of the machine. The men tug desperately at the windlass; it is freed, and in a few minutes it is on its way upward once more. Fully a quarter of an hour has been wasted in this attempt to accomplish the ascent. When the men get as high as they can, which is only to the third story, they might as well been on the ground, on account of the difficulty of handling the hose in the crazy bucket. The stream is small and ineffectual, and does not reach the upper story.
The Fire Gains Ground.
In the meantime the fir increases, the flames spread rapidly from the rear to the front, and at 5:25 the entire roof is a mass of flame and smoke. Downward into the building the fire eats its way, and in a few minutes the flame and smoke curl upward as if rising from a burning pit. In ten minutes more, or at twenty minutes to 6, the whole of Laflin, Butler & Co.’s building is o fire. The scene even at this early stage is grand. Flame leaps after flame, mounting skyward amid the thick, dark smoke, making the most fantastic shapes and forms imaginable. Around the cornices and windows the fire dances like a demon at play. The light of day is almost obscured by the immense volume of smoke which drifts southerly before a gentle wind, carrying sparks which drop and burn holes in the garments of the vast crowd that had already assembled. There is hardly time to notice minor events for
the fire is traveling fast.
Already the paper store is doomed. Upward and onward surely, steadily, and swiftly the destroyer marches. The roof of the adjoining building, owned and occupied by John V. Farwell & Co., the great dry goods merchants, has caught, and smoke rushes out of the grand Mansard roof. The heat grows intense. The crowd retires before it, and it is growing hotter and hotter every moment. The second roof is covered with flame and smoke. Matters look serious for the building. Volunteers are called for from the crowd to assist in removing the gods.
A Crowd Rushes In,
and the goods are handed out and carried to the Presbyterian Church. further down the avenue. The rescue of the goods goes on, and so does the fire. The cornice begins to fall in large pieces. There is no time to be lost. The bucket machine has been utterly worthless. Its intention may have been good, but its practice is imperfect.The men in the bucket, cannot stand the heat, which is growing fiercer, and they come down. They might have might as well have never gone up. They have done no good. The machine is moved out of the way to Washington street.
The Volunteers are Working Like Heroes
to save the goods. Some of them are away up on the third and fourth stories. Mr. Ira P. Bowen is on the fifth floor, with a Babcock extinguisher, working for dear life, with half a dozen other brave fellows. The smoke gets thick and strong up there, and they have to retreat, their faces covered with wet handkerchiefs to prevent suffocation. They are doubtful about the stairway, and find an exit through the upper story of Lyon & Healey’s building, two doors north. Still there are others in the buisling—a great many—how many God knows, and no one else. They are on the first, second, third, and fourth floors, working as men will work when their impulses prompt them to grand and gallant deeds. The engineer of the building knows what it contains, and is anxious about the lives of the men. He tells officer Wood to turn them out as the upper floor contains hundreds of tons of goods, and if the walls give way they will fall, carrying death to the men below. Wood runs up and drives them from the third and fourth floors. A minute more and he would have been too late. He again enters the store on the same mission. There are a large number inside——and they are in imminent danger. Wood gets inside the door, but, before he has time to say anything, there is a rumbling noise, and a crash, which sends a chill to the heart, and, with a roar like a thunder-clap, the floors fall in from the room to the cellar.
There is a frantic rush to the door by those inside, and men and boys fall over each other in their efforts to escape. Some were caught in the timber and debris. None can tell how went in and how many came out, or how many never came out. Officer Wood, Mr. R.W. Patten and Mrt. G.F. Sterling, are the last to get out, and they say there must have been a dozen men inside. Mr. Patten isw wounded, his back being cut and burned.
The Flames Roar
and leap among the rafters in mad delight. Upward they shoot, the smoke hovering around and over them, while sparks and bits of flame are scattered all over, endangering surrounding property. The fire creeps along the roof of the nnext buildings, occupied by Kirtland, Ordway & Co. and Lyon & Healey, and 5:45 they too are on fire. Men are busy running goods from the building. hose of Messrs. Farwell & Co. are taken to the Second Presbyterian Church, which has been generously thrown open, for the purpose, and those of Lyon & Healey are dragged out into the street. There is no time to spare, for the fire fiend has got loose and is dooming everything that comes in his way.
There is Another Crash,
caused by twenty-five feet of the side wall of Laflin, Butler & Co.’s store falling from a height of sixty feet. The concussion makes the ground tremble, and the affrighted crowd retires in fear and confusion. More of the same wall falls in a few minutes, leaving the interior of the burning visible. It looks like a fiery furnace, and the red and white flame sends forth a fierce heat that can hardly be borne a block away.
It is 5:45; two buildings have been destroyed in three-quarters of a n hour, and yet there are only three streams of water of any use at all and they are not of much service, as they do not rise above the third atory. That hose is spurting an squirting all along the streets, wasting water intended for the building. The impression inn the crowd is that the hose is a fraud, and an imposition, and that it ought to be condemned. It condemns itself. That precious bucket machine has been missed for the last half hour bu half a dozen men who have managed to take it in safely as far as Washington street. Just now it is going under a telegraph wire, and the mast, or pole, on which these men ventured their lives half an hour ago, snaps off, and the thing is a complete failure. The men are released from care of it, and can find something to do elsewhere. So far, there has been but one stream on the rear of the building, and that is weak and worthless. The time lost at the outset is telling fearfully now. Futire efforts will be i=unavailing, even if the hose holds out.
There are half a dozen firemen away up that roof of Lyon & Healey’s, over one hundred feet high, a perfect sea of fire below, dashing in waves against the fated building. Three brave fellows try to get a stream on the roof; but human beings cannot stand fire and smoke, and fire has taken hold of the roof to destroy it. On it went relentlessly, with nothing to impede its course or stop its way. There is no obstacle before it, and the roof is soon enveloped in flames. The firemen escaped in time down the elevator. They have barely got to the bottom, ere a pillar of flame rusches after them down the hatchway. A moment more and they were lost.
It is 5:50, and Lyon & Healey’s building is burning inside. Its fate seems inevitable. Nest door south, is the L-shaped store, occupied by Kirtland, Ordway & Co., dealers in boots and shoes. This store fronts on both Wabash avenue and Washington street. There is now small chance that any of the block will escape, and men begin to remove the stock from the building occupied by Kirtland, Ordway & Co.
The sparks are flying all over, and some fall upon the roof of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, at the corner of Madison street, and at 5:55 the roof is on fire. Some buckets of water are thrown on it and the building is saved. The heat is intense, and the crowds retire before it, and timid persons leave, the sight of the burning mass being too terrific for weak nerves.
At 6:15. The wall between Laflins and Farwell falls with a loud retort into Messrs. Farwell & Co.’s basement, and uprise the sparks and the flame, the latter sending forth a heat that reaches across the street and threatens the buildings there. A strong wall falls inside, giving the flames more food in Lyin & Healey’s building. All this time the hose is bursting, rendering the efforts of the firemen futile. They can do nothing anyway, for the devoted block, which an hour ago stood in all its pride and beauty. The heat again threatens the buildings on the opposite side of the street, and the water is turned on them to cool the fronts. Water is also thrown on the roofs of several buildings in the vicinity to prevent the sparks from setting them on fire.
The rear wall of Farwell’s building falls with a loud report in the alleyway. No one is seriously injured, although the intrepid firemen stand their ground until the very last moment. One man gets frightened, and suddenly letting go of the hose it strikes him in the side breaking two of hs ribs.
6:40. The side walls Layon & Healey’s building, fronting Michigan avenue, falls on Mr. Wilder’s barn, in the alley-way. crushing and destroying it utterly. The entire block is now ablaze, presenting a magnificent spectacle. It can hardly be described. The flames rose all over, just as the moon came out; the heavens were lighted up by an unnatural glare; the smoke and steam rose in dark and curling masses; the walls cracked, wit a report like a pistol, and so the scene increased in grandeur every moment.
The front, from the corner to Lyon & Healey’s building, has fallen gradually, and by piecemeal. Nothing stands but the corner, rising up like an old ruin, or, as a gentleman says, like the ancient tower of Heidelberg.
It is fifteen minutes of 7, and the wall of Kirtland, Ordway & Co. comes down and demolishes a dwelling house, the ruins of which immediately catch fire. The firemen let it burn; they have all they can do but save the corner where Lyon & Healey’s pianos are stored; but even that they cannot do, for in half an hour more, the fire has completed the work of destruction, and the noble pile of buildings and nearly all their valuable contents are destroyed.
The Origin of the Fire
is not definitely known. It was first discovered in the rear of the upper story of Laflin, Butler Co., and is supposed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion among oiled rags, which have been stored there. The flames were first seen by a servant girl employed in a family residing on Michigan avenue, in a house the rear of which faced the burning buildings. She told a little boy, and he ran into the alley-way shouting “fire.” The cry was taken up by several hostlers in the vicinity, one of whom ran to the corner and turned in Box 12. The first engine on the ground ws the Titsworth, which quickly followed by the engines in the district. A second alarm was turned in fifteen minutes after, and in the course of the next half hour to other alarms summoned every engine in the city, including the Illinois and the Winnebago from the suburbs.
J.B. Drake Building
The north one hundred and twenty feet of the building fronting on Wabash avenue was the property of John B. Drake, proprietor of the Tremont House, and was erected at a cost of $160,000. This portion of the structure, although the last to fall victim to the destroying element, will probably be completely destroyed. At the time of writing, the Wabash avenue and Washington street fronts are still standing, but there was little hope that the walls would remain after the interior floors and partitions have been burned. Even though the walls should withstand this eventually, the damage by heat would necessitate their being torn down on account both of safety and utility.
J.V. Farwell and Co.
Next south of Drake’s Building was the immense wholesale dry goods establishment, occupying a frontage of seventy feet on Wabash avenue, extending to the alley. This building was exclusively owned and operated by the Farwells, who rank among the leading dry goods princes of America. The basement was filled with domestics; first floor with dress goods; second floor, cloths and woolens; third and fourth floors, notions; fifth floor, duplicate; sixth floor, packing room. One hundred and twenty-five persons were employed in and about the establishment. The stock was valued at $1,500,000, and the building at $165,000. Both were totally destroyed. Farwell & Co. have already rented the building Nos. 72 and 74 Wabash avenue, where by the aid of a large stock of goods which were warehoused at the time of the fire, the business will be continued at once, and it is expected that everything will be in as perfect running order as before within two weeks. The insurance on stock amounted to $750,000; on building, $130,000.
The Music Store
and salesroom for pianos and musical instruments generally, under the proprietorship of Lyin & Healey and Smith & Nixon, occupied Drake’s Building, the basement being used by Lyon & Healey for the storing of sheet music and book stock; the first floor by Lyon & Healey and Smith & Nixon as the retail department music and instruments; the second floor by Lyon & Healey, for the display and sale of pianos; third floor, by Lyon & Healey for general duplicate stock. The total value of the stock was $140,000, of which $65,000 was saved, leaving a loss of $140,000, of which about $45,000 was covered by insurance.
Kirtland, Ordway ans Co.,
wholesale dealers in boots and shoes, occupied a double store in the for of an “L”—one fronting on Wabash avenue and the other on Washington street. They had $150,000 worth of goods, but a small portion of which was saved. They were insured for $110,000.
Field, Leiter & Co.
The third and fourth floors of Drake’s building were occupied by Field, Leiter & Co. for the storage of a vast quantity of fall and winter dry goods, woolens, etc., all of which has been stored there in unbroken packages. These goods, which represented a cash value of about $185,000 were totally destroyed. It should be stated, however, that these these goods had been stored in the building temporarily, and that their destruction will not in the slightest degree interfere with the filling of orders or the supplying of customers by Field, Leiter & Co. Before this meets the eye of the reader, that firm will have perfected arrangements for the replacement of every case of goods destroyed.
The Thatcher Building.
Nos. 114 and 116, uniform in style and height with the other part of the block, was erected by the agents of the Thatcher estate, and had a frontage of forty feet and a depth of one hundred and sixty-three feet. It was erected at a cost of about $75,000, and was insured for $60,000.
Laflin, Butler & Co.
The building was occupied by Laflin, Butker & Co., paper dealers, who held all but the second floor, which was in use by James & Butler, printers. The first floor was stored with general stationery, the basement with printing paper, and the upper floors with material for the manufacture of paper. It was reported that the fire originated among this material, but the gentlemen of the firm assert that none was stored in the rear where the fire broke out. It is difficult to say whether it originated in this establishment, or in that of J.V. Farwell & Co. Messrs. Laflin, Butler & Co. held a stock valued at $225,000, on which was placed insurance to the amount of $140,000. The firm, with enterprise truly Chicagoan, engaged other quarters while their establishment was yet in flames, and will temporarily occupy No. 39 Madison street, near Wabash avenue. They have a full line of goods on the way, and will resume business shortly.
James S. Butler.
The second floor was occupied by James & Butler, printers and binders. They engaged over eighty persons about theor establishment, who are now thrown out of employment. Their loss will reach $20,000, which is insured for $10,000.
Residence Crushed and Burned.
On Washington street, in a triangle formed by the protector of the Farwell builsing, at the rear beyond the Drake Building, stood the residence of Nathaniel P. Wilder, a handsome two-story frame structure. When the danger became imminent, a considerable portion of the furniture was removed, but before the task was entirely completed, entrance to the premises was barred by the heat, and a few moments later the east wall of the Drake Building tumbled through its roof, and what was not crushed was doomed by the flames. A stable in the rear was entirely lost to view amid the debris. The building was valued at $5,000, insured to that amount. The barn was insured for $1,000. The furniture was not insured.
The Drake Block Ruins
John Carbutt’s photography studio was located very close to this building near the SW corner of Washington and Wabash. He immediately started selling stereo-views of the “Great Fire.” Mr. Carbutt left for Philadelphia immediately after this fire. Also, the architect, John M. Van Osdel admitted the building was not fireproof as the walls were not thick enough.
Scientific American, October 15, 1870
On the 11th of last month the Drake, Farwell & Thatcher block, Chicago, one of the most beautiful and costly business structures over erected in this country, was burned to the ground. Several lives were lost, and the total amount of property destroyed is estimated to have been two and one half millions of dollars. The building was designed by and erected under the supervision of Mr. John M. Van Osdel, a most highly accomplished and skillfal architect, and, while not intended to be fire proof, it was supposed to be among the most substantial structure of its class.
In writing of its destruction at this late date we do not purpose to enter into detail, because the catastrophe was but a repetition of similar disasters which have occurred in this and other cities. In every essential particular the structure, on the morning before the fire, would not have suffered by comparison with buildings of its class in any city in America. The walls were equally heavy, and a careful examination of the ruins afforded convincing evidence that the masonry had been executed with scrupulows care. The Mansard roof, about which so much has been said contained lees wood than the majority of similar roofs in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. According to the American idea it was a first-class building. It was as good as any building of similar size not intended to be fire-proof. And now, after all this, if it can be proved that the walls were of insufficient thickness, that the roof was of material too inflammable, that the system of anchoring joists was bad, what does it all signify? It simply signifies a condition of thines which the Builder has from the beginning denounced. We have said, again and again, that our entire system of building needs reforming. If not, then why are we compelled to witness these fearful conflagrations? Why do we not hear of such fires in the great cities of the old world? Do we ever read of a fire like this in Paris? No: the elder civilization builds better than we; and, building better; it builds cheaper. The expense of iron girders is not a serious matter in the construction of a building which is to contain millions of dollars, worth of merchandise in its several departments, because it is not difficult to construct fire-proof floors after the French method where no wooden joists enter the walls. Our under. writars clamor for thicker walls.
We have been referred, time and again, to the recent fire on Randolph street, where the walls are standing; but those walls were built under Mr. Van Osdel’s direction, and differ little, if any, from other walls. The fire went through them in twenty different places, and all that saved the adjacent building from burning was the Babcock extingnisher in the hands of the firemen and citizens, prominent among whom was Mr. Murphey, secretary of the Home Insurance Co.
It is hardly fair to charge all the evils of the present system of building on the architects, because the evil is back of them. Property owners demand a liberal percentage on them, their investments, and in order to secure it buildings must be erected with special view to cheapness. When the Tribune Company desired a building that would not burn down, there was no difficulty in finding an architect to execute its will. The greed manifested by property owners to secure the largest percentage possible on rentals, and the extreme willingness of insurance companies to make good all losses, are the saddest features of this whole building business.
The Land Owner, April, 1871
THE NEW DRAKE BLOCK.
Herewith we present an elegant full page illustration of the new Drake Block in this city, as rebuilt since the great fire last fall. Its architecture is mainly the same as before, except the roof ornamentations, which are materially different, the unpopular Mansard roof having been laid aside. The architect is John M. Van Osdel, Esq., of this city. A large portion of this elegant block is the property of John B. Drake, Esq., of the Tremont House. It is occupied by several leading mercantile firms of the city as appears by the signs.
The clock in the new Drake Building was constructed by A.S. Hotchkiss & Co., who have constructed a majority of all the tower clocks in the United States which are worth anything as timekeepers.
Chicago Tribune, March 29, 1871
If anything were necessary to convince the environs of the greatness of our city it would be merely the exhibition of a great mercantile house, equal to anything that the East has successfully accomplished. There are in our city many large establishments, splendid in themselves and gorgeous with goods. The last addition to the mercantile splendor of our city is the new dry goods store of Messrs. Hamlin, Hale & Co., corner of Wabash avenue and Washington street, which was opened on Monday morning, and through which now many thousand of persons have passed it would be difficult to calculate. That all who chose might view, to advantage, the gorgeous array of goods, the firm determined upon having an exhibition on Monday and Tuesday nights, and have, by special request, agreed to continue it this evening for the last time.
The unit, as every one knows, monster wholesale and retail trades, and while this doubles their business each branch works to the advantage of the other. A heavy wholesale trade enables them to keep for retail a large stock of the very finest goods obtained in the world’s market. Add to this the situation of the store, on the southeast corner of Washington street and Wabash avenue—the Drake Block risen, Phoenix-like, from its ashes—and the reader can form some idea of the magnitude of the business the firm have undertaken. This situation possesses a charm in itself, which will be appreciated by business men. A soft light from the north and west are desiderata which cannot be too highly valued. No curtains are requisite at any time of the day, and sale-man and customer alike can judge of the effect of gas light, a little parlor is prepared below, lighted with gas, in which are exhibited the most charming evening colors. Here, in fact, the business is reduced to an art. Carpets and fixtures have been selected with a care of judgement that would not be amiss in the Academy of Sciences.
The opening was a brilliant affair, and the rush last night, although the second, was fully as great as on Monday evening. The wholesale department, up-stairs, and the retail department below, were arranged, in very becoming style, with an exhibition of goods quite dazzling to those unaccustomed to such sights.
The basement of the building is devoted to the retail carpet trade, ladies’ and misses’ underwear, and such like. This, though of course not so showy as other portions of the stock, was arranged with consummate skill and good taste. The main floor is the palace, the charmed pavilion. This, filled to overflowing with ladies decorated in every color known, presented a lively appearance.
The first department is the silk goods department, under the efficient superintendence of Mr. Canfield, a gentleman whose taste and knowledge of color and artistic effect needed little advertisement beyond that which his arrangement of his goods afforded. On the counter were Japanese silks of every pattern, and of seventy-five varieties, from seventy-five cents per yard upward. Around were all the latest delicate shades in silks, so arranged as to set one and her off to perfection. There were black silks sold at $2.30 which $3.00 could not purchase at A.T. Stewart’s in New York. There was a green silk dress, to off a point-lace overdress, for which was asked the modest sum of $700. Near it was a round point-lace flounce worth $1,000, beyond which was another skirt, worth $750.
Adjoining this department is the fancy goods and trimmings department, which was arranged in the best possible taste.
Then comes the hosiery and gloves department. In this connection it might not be amiss to state that the firm have now a new glove, the Perinot, which they regard as superior to the Alexandre, or any other glove yet produced.
The next department is that of dress goods, And this is a triumph in its way. The visitor here find diagonal serges and poplins of the newest and most delicate shades; most elegant spring suitings. Competent judges have declared that, in the selection of styles and shades, this establishment is not outdone by Stewart, or anyone else. The summer dress materials in lawns, organdies, French and English percales, and white piques are extensively represented, and that, too, at a cost which puts them within the reach of all.
Adjoining this is the department which attracts the attention of the purchaser, and that is the cloak department. This under the supervision of Mr. Suits, acknowledged to be a master of his business, and engaged from the same position in Stewart’s to take charge of this branch of Hamlin, Hale & Co.’s. The exhibition of suits and outer garments generally is very encouraging to those who long for a good timing at a reasonable price. Mr. Suits showed, last evening, suits in Victoria lawns and brown linens from $4 to $20; a complete evening dress of Swiss at $40; walking dresses of the same material at $15 and $18. Then, again, surrounded by a knot of admiring belles, was a superb black silk dress, trimmed with lace, for $250; a very pretty and stylish Japanese silk suit for $45; black silk suits for $125, and so on without number. Turning to the sacques, Mr. Suits exhibits simple cloth jackets, trimmed with shades of the same color, pretty, unique, and stylish. These are all designed by himself, and fully corroborate the excellent recommendations that gentleman has received from all who know him.
The floor above is occupied by the wholesale carpet department, under Mr. Peck, lately in charge of Allen & Mackey’s carpet department. Here are Turkish, Brussels, Persian, and all other imaginable kinds, from the cheapest to the most costly. Curtains and upholstery of all kinds are included here.
The third story contains white goods, linens, cottens, fancy goods, notions, and other things without number.
The fourth story contains rooms for fitting dresses, with arrangements showing a degree of consideration for the feelings of customers which, if mentioned, would not fail to secure the approbation for the feelings of customers which, if mentioned, would not fail to secure the appropriation of all delicate-minded lady customers, but which the firm do not care to be made public. These parlors are under the superintendence of Mr. Gormley, a gentleman widely and favorably known among the fashionables of Chicago.
Such is the character of the last colossal business establishment, so balanced as to meet the demands of the wealthiest and the humblest, with a uniformity of excellence unaffected by price.
The Drake Block II
The Drake Block II
Drake/Farwell Block II
John M. Van Osdel Accounting Book
Farwell Building after the Fire
Photographed by Jex Bardwell
The Drake Farwell Block (No. 17)