Life Span: 1858-1871
Location: Lake Street Between Dearborn and Clark Streets
Architect: Unknown, but owners were Walter and Edward Wright, Chicago Lawyers.
Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1860
NEW BOWLING SALOON.—Messrs. Brunswick & Co. open their extensive Bowling Saloon on the corner of Clark and Washington streets this evening
History of Chicago; Its Commercial and Manufacturing Interests and Industry, By I.D. Guyer, 1862
BILLIARD TABLE MANUFACTURE.
To America belongs the honor of constructing the only perfect Billiard Tables made the world. This is the more remarkable, as it has been pretty satisfactorily demonstrated that the game was in vogue among the Romans, and particularly cultivated by Consul Lucullus, that elegant and accomplished Roman epicurean, who devoted his colossal fortune to the graces and accomplishments of refined and polite life. Some have referred its introduction to the Emperor Caligula. We have never leaned to this conclusion, because it is hard to believe that so hard-hearted a wretch should have had any agency in introducing so elegant and generous an amusement among iis countrymen. There seems to be little doubt that the game of Billiards was known to the Romans; and we think it would not be difficult to prove that every hospitable and elegant palace of the Roman citizens had a room devoted to this glorious and inspiring game. Billiards were introduced into France as early as the first crusade, which occurred in 1099. During the reign of Henry III., one of the most luxurious of the French monarchs gave to this amusement the epithet of “the noble game of Billiards.” With this royal sanction, its fascination soon enthralled all the elegant circles of Europe, and before a quarter of a century had passed, Billiards became the favorite amusement of the nobles and principal classes of England, Germany, Italy and Spain. The game was introduced into this country by the cavaliers of Virginia and a few gentlemen of Holland,, who became the early possessors of Manhattan Island, then called New Amsterdam. It was cultivated before the revolution by the most illustrious, intelligent, and best educated classes. General Washington devoted to it as many moments of leisure after dinner as the serious occupation of his life allowed. John Quincy Adams, while President, had one in his house, as one of the luxuries which his hospitality provided for the after-dinner hours of Lafayette.
There is much to be said on the subject of innocent and exhilarating amusement. Physicians and surgeons of the highest rank among all nations have prescribed Billiards as the most exhilirating and the most beautiful of all games. Chess is too sedentary; and, besides, it turns out to be too irritating. To be well played, it taxes the intensest powers. Billiards can be played as a relaxation; It becomes an intense and exciting game only when the mind throws all its energies in that direction, and then it is full, often, of the spirit of heroism. Sir Astley Cooper attributed to the practice of this game, among the families of the English aristocracy, both male and female, their admitted superiority of health, beauty, and physical development, over all other races on the earth.
The demand for Billiard Tables in the West and North-West became so great, that three years ago, Messrs. E. Brunswick & Co. established a manufactory in this city, for the better accommodation of the many applicants for their celebrated Tables. The best players in this country resort to them for Tables, Balls, Cues, and all the apparatus of the game. They receive orders from men of taste and fortune, from every quarter of the North- West. They doubtless construct them with more care, and superintend the manufacture of each one with more earnest personal attention than any other manufacturer. Not a Table is allowed to leave their manufactory that does not first pass the scrutiny of their eye. They have devoted the energies, talents, and experience of life to the gradual perfection of Billiard Table manufacture. Billiard players seek these Tables in preference to all others.
Their Salesroom and Factory are at 74, 76, and 78 Randolph Street—the manufactory occupying one entire floor. Their Office and Sales-room are on the first floor. They employ a capital of about $20,000—from twenty-five to thirty men; and furnish from ten to twelve tables per week. These Tables are made of Rosewood and Mahogany, with Slate, Marble, and Wooden Beds, and cost from $225 to $1,500.
Brunswick & Co. Manufactory
Nos. 74, 76 & 78 Randolph Street, Between Dearborn and State Streets
Chicago Evening Mail, August 24, 1870
THE REOPENING OF BRUNSWICK HALL.
After having suspended business nearly a month for repairs, the Brunswick Billiard Hall, on Washington street, near the Chamber of Commerce, will be reopened in grand style this evening. The immense hall has undergone entire refitment, and is now a perfect palace of beauty and attractiveness. Eighteen new tables have been supplied, and they are marvels in the way of exquisite taste and richness. The tables are about equally divided between dark and light-colored woods, and are arranged alternately. There will be on exhibition this evening a novelty in the way of a new revolving dining room billiard table. Nothing of the kind has ever been manufactured in this city before.
“Brunswick & Co. Billiard Table Manufactory”
Nos. 74, 76 & 78 Randolph Street
1862-1863 Halpin Chicago Directory
Chicago Tribune, April 29, 1873
The J.M. Brunswick and Balke Company (composed of the J.M. Brunswick Co., of Chicago and Cincinnati, and Julius Balke, of Cincinnati, consolidated), have this day removed their office and billiard table factory from Nos. 42, 44, and 40 Adams street, to the large five-story iron front building at No. 62 Lake street, northeast corner of State. At the new and extensive warerooms can be found the largest assortment of superb inlaid and plain beveled billiard tables and goods in their line in the city. Purchasers at this establishment enjoy the advantage of having either J.M. Brunswick’s improved cushions, the famous Phelan & Colender patent combination cushion, or the steel-ribbed cushion. Be sure nd note the address, No. 62 Lake street, northeast corner of State.
Brunswick Bros. Letterhead
Der Westen, December 12, 1875
The New Brunswick and Balke Billiard Factory A Triumph of German Diligence and Enterprise
If a visitor crosses Rush Street bridge from the south, he will see a colossal brick building, six stories high and 120 feet square, which houses the new Brunswick and Balke Billiard factory. Nearly three hundred experienced German workers, skilled in various trades, find continuous employment here at fair wages which are promptly paid.
To praise the products of the Company would be like carrying coals to Newcastle, since they have not only a local, but a world reputation, and are unequaled. The readers should therefore not consider it an exaggeration when the assertion is made that this billiard factory is the largest and most up-to-date establishment of its kind in existence.
In order to give the reader of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung, as well as those who are interested in German industries, some impression of this extensive establishment, we shall ask you to go with us on a tour of inspection.
In the basement are steam boilers and engines which supply heat and power for the machinery throughout the building. Here also are the joiners’ benches of latest construction, two big saws, and a large supply of lumber. Without going into details about machinery—since such descriptions would not be intelligible to the great majority—we shall only mention that the latest improvements and inventions have been incorporated into their wonderful machinery. If individuals are particularly interested, the firm will gladly provide them with an opportunity to see the plant.
On the first floor are the hall and office, also mills for boring the slate slabs in the billiard tables; wood-turning equipment for the manufacture of bowling pins and bowling balls, and a large supply of lumber.
The second floor contains the veneer-cutting machines including six fret saws with blades of the finest hairspring steel….which cut, with uncanny accuracy, the thousands of wooden ornaments used….on billiard tables—work which would be both laborious and very expensive if performed by hand. Here also the preliminary work on pockets and cushions is performed.
On the third floor the billiard tables are assembled and the fitting of the slate slabs (beds) is taken care of.
On the fourth floor the cushions and sides are completed, the inlays are fitted into the veneer, etc. Of particular interest is the great supply of various veneers, representing the costliest woods of various nations and climates. We shall mention only a few: rosewood, wood from the tulip tree, Californian laurel, and Hungarian ash.
On the fifth floor the heavy corner parts from the billiard tables are made; here also the pool tables are assembled. The most popular brands are “The American”, “Jenny Lind,” “Virginius,” “Parepa,” etc.
Finally, on the sixth floor, extensive space is provided for painting, staining, varnishing; here, also, are the essential drying rooms. If we climb a few more steps—to the roof—we perceive a most imposing view, a panorama of Chicago and a huge expanse of Lake Michigan. In spite of the great size of the building, and in spite of the fact that hundreds of people are employed by the Company, one notes exceptional quietness, order, and even cleanliness. Every worker has window space, his own tools, and workbench, and hence does not come into contact with his co-workers. Thus quarrels are prevented.
The desire of the owners constantly to improve their merchandise, as well as the demands of customers, make it apparent that only the best and most skillful workers can be employed. Since a larger number of such qualified artisans are available in Chicago than in any other city, the owners decided to manufacture here also the various items for their Cincinnati and St. Louis branches.
After the reader has read our account of this unique factory, he will naturally wish to know something about the present owners of the establishment. We shall touch upon this subject briefly.
J. M. Brunswick founded the factory in Cincinnati, in 1845; shortly thereafter he established a branch here which enjoyed a steady growth until the great fire, October 9, 1871. When Mr. Brunswick was elected to the legislature of his home state, Ohio, he withdrew from business activity and dedicated himself entirely to his official duties.
At this time, shortly after Chicago’s great fire, a partnership was formed with Julius Balke who owned a billiard factory in Cinnnati. Balke’s factory was founded in Cincinnati in 1851 and enjoyed a great reputation. The great demand for billiard tables induced Mr. Balke to open a branch in St. Louis in 1854. Later 1864, he opened an additional establishment in Chicago.
Mr. Balke has many friends among the Germans here. He is at present in Chicago and has been spending the last few weeks directing installations at the new factory. His experience and technical knowledte are used to practical advantage at the new plant; he receives zealous assistance from his younger partner, Moses Besinger (son-in-law of J. M. Brunswick). Messrs. Leo Schmidt and Anton Troescher are also members of the firm.
We hope that this short description is sufficient. We desire, however, to emphasize one fact: The Company’s business is huge; its products are used throughout the United States, South America, Canada, India, etc., and the name of the corporation is known wherever billiards are played.
We extend our best wishes to this deserving enterprise and hope that it will be successful.
J. M. Brunswick, and Balke Company Plant
Adler & Sullivan
Block bounded by W. Superior St. and W. Huron St. and N. Sedgwick St. and N. Orleans St.
J. M. Brunswick, and Balke Company Plant
Talking Machine World, May 15, 1916
To Make Talking Machines
The announcement of the Brunswick-Balke-Collander Co. that they are prepared to make talking machine cabinets for the trade is a matter of unusual interest. The great plant at Dubuque has a capacity of 400 machine cabinets a day and the factory at Muskegon, Mich., can turn out 200 a day. The Dubuque plant is devoted entirely to the manufacture of talking machine cabinets. There are four one-story buildings over 800 feet long and over 100 feet wide, giving a total floor space of about 400,000 feet. This remarkable plant is literally a daylight factory, with saw-tooth roofs, and has a remarkable equipment of the latest modern machinery and equipment, including the latest type of varnish dry kilns, varnish spraying devices, etc. The plant and its grounds cover eighty acres and 5,000,000 feet of lumber are kept constantly on hand. The plant has its individual electric plant. Nine hundred men are employed at the Dubuque plant alone.
Martin Nystrom, the superintendent of the talking machine cabinet and piano case department of the immense corporation, has been associated with it for eight years, and previous to that had many years’ experience as superintendent for one of the leading piano factories during which he obtained a wide reputation as an artistic and original case designer.
Talking Machine World, September 15, 1916
Brunswick Phonograph Shipments
The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co. has made its initial shipments to dealers within the past two weeks and expects by October 1 to be in a position to supply initial stock orders from the various agents it has established and will establish. The past month the company has gotten in nice shape in its new ground floor warerooms at 611 Wabash avenue, which will be devoted exclusively to Brunswick phonographs and Pathe records. There are five handsome demonstration rooms and visiting dealers can now inspect the entire line of cabinet machines, ranging from $60 to $105 the retail price. W. A. Gardner is in charge.