The Tobey Furniture Company, Wannamaker & Brown Building, The Leader, C. D. Peacock
Life Span: 1873-1946 (Replaced by Baskin Building)
Location: 195 State, NE Corner State and Adams Streets
Chicago Tribune, April 11, 1875
HOUSE-CLEANING AND MOVING.—With the advent of spring conimence anew our domestic troubles in the shape of refitting and refurbishing our dwelling-houses. A few words, therefore, upon the different articles necessary for those purposes, and some of the best places to select them from may not prove uninteresting.
LET US COMMENCE THEN WITH FURNITURE.
For every description of goods in this line there is probably no better buying place to visit than the spacious warerooms of the Tobey Furniture Company, at the corner of State and Adams streets. With their increased facilities for manufacturing added to an extensive and varied stock of every description, together with their uniformly low prices, they are creating quite a sensation. A walk through their ample salesrooms will at once be convincing that they possess the best possible stock of goods for all buyers. Some of their parlor and chamber sets are marked at such extremely moderate figures that it is almost a marvel to think they can be made, let alone sold, for such prices.
Advertisement in Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1906
By Oscar L. Triggs.
Time has no breaks. It flows evenly and placidly, the same yesterday, today and forever. The habit of breaking time and keeping anniversaries, however, one not to be discouraged and is advantageous to business houses as it is to universities and nations.
Fifty years measure the working period of a man’s life. In this time he must gratify ambitions, fulfill desires, realize ends. If he fails he is simply one failure more; if he succeeds his work lives on, adding that much to the world’s fund of knowledge or wealth or culture.
To have established a great business is not the least of human achievements. Indeed it may be among the very greatest. It is certainly one of the most difficult. How many men are able to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of their business? A great business to endure must be grounded in a true man’s character, or it must embody such principals of fair trade as time approves, or it must be of genuine service to the people. Failure represents a violation of one of these three laws.
Of the men who started in business in Chicago fifty years ago, how many remain? What firms survived the fire of 1871? How many passed unscathed through financial panics? In 1856 Chicago had a population of 86,000. Among those already on the ground when Charles Tobey began to sell furniture on State Street were Fernando Jones, the Farwells, the McCormicks, William G. Hibbard, Potter Palmer and Levi Z. Leiter. Marshall Field came that same year and George Pullman two years later. The Merchants Loan & Truct Co., the only financial institution organized prior to 1858 now existing in Chicago, was not established until 1857. One might almost say that after fifty years survival itself is a proof of fitness and a test of quality.
In a city like Chicago statistics of business are particularly eloquent of achievement. The growth of the furniture business will illustrate. The Chicago Directory of 1844 contained the names of four persons doing business as cabinet makers. The capital invested was not more than $2,500. To-day Chicago manufactures something like $20,000,000 worth of furniture and sells as much more.
In these enormous transactions the Tobey Company, the oldest furniture house in the city, has done its full part. In an earlier day they fitted up the Grand Pacific Hotel, the Tremont House, and in part the Gardner and Palmer Houses in Chicago. At the Palmer House furniture is shown which has been in use for over thirty years. A list of their customers is a roll call of prominent men, among whom may be mentioned: Presidents Abraham Lincoln, U. S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and Jas. A Garfield; other officials like Schuyler Colfax, Walter Q. Gresham, J. Sterling Morton, E. B. Washburn, Joseph Cannon and Lyman J. Gage; Chief Justices, like Fuller and Davis; Senators Vilas, G. H. Pendleton, A. J. Beveridge, Cullom and Mason; Generals John A. Logan, George B. McClellan, Lew Wallace, Phil Sheridan and Frederick Funston; influential men, such as Charles A. Dana, George W. Childs and Joseph Medill; Governors R. J. Oglesby, Altgeld and Yates; Mayors John Wentworth, John Roach, Carter H. Harrison, and private citizens beyond number, such as Marshall Field, P. D. Armour, Potter Palmer and E. H. Gray. Hardly a prominent house can be named to which their furniture has not gone. Today their furniture is being shipped to every state in the Union and to foreign countries.
Integrity does count in this curious world where truth is so often shamed and sham so often in evidence. This is perhaps the main lesson taught by the House of Tobey at its Golden Jubilee.
The Leader and Kimball Building in 1890.
Chicago Tribune, June 8, 1890
A NEW DRY GOODS HOUSE.—”The Leader” to Be Opened About Aug. 15, in the Wannamaker & Brown Building, State and Adams Streets.
Next August will witness the opening of a new dry goods and department store on State street, which will rival any of the big establishments of the kind that now line that famous thoroughfare and make it the daily gathering place of thousands of buyers. There appears to be no limit to the number of dry goods houses that Chicago can support with credit to herself and profit to their owners, and it is not strange that such experienced business men as Joseph Horner, C. Dernberg, and L. Glick should take advantage of this pleasant fact and enter the field of competition actively.
191-193-195-197 and 199 State Street
The name of the establishment will be “The Leader,” and it will attempt to deserve its happy choice of title. It will occupy the building on the northeast corner of Adams and State streets occupied by Wannamake & Brown, and known as the Wannamaker & Brown Building. Then opening will occur sometime about August 15, and notice of it will be printed in advance in the daily papers. The intention is to establish a first-class department store dealing in dry goods and sorts of merchandise. The departments will not be rented to outsides, as is frequently done, but the entire business will be under the direct control of the proprietors. The amount of capital is very large and the projectors will be able to pay cash for all their goods, thus in the end insuring a saving for the customers, who are invariably the losers from all other methods of purchase from the factory. Their buyers are already out among the great markets of Europe and America gathering in the immense stocks of all sorts of goods required to open the great house on the scale proposed by the proprietors. When they have done their work the establishment will compare, for the completeness and costliness of the outfit, with any similar establishment in America. No thought of cost has intervened to mar the excellence of the display, and the opening will show an establishment of which the business world of the West can be proud with good reason.
The proprietors of “The Leader” are men of established business reputations. Mr. Dernburg has been connected with the dry-goods business for many years. He was a member of the firm of Moper & Dernburg, one of the leading manufacturing houses of the West. He has lived in Chicago for seventeen years. Mr. Glick is a member if the firm of Glick Bros. Mr. Horner has been identified with the dry-goods business for twenty years. He is a member of Shouer, Horner & Co. The three partners will devote all their time to the business.
Chicago Twenty Years Later, 1893:
What co-operation, courage, push, and honest dealing can do, has been fully exemplified by this firm. Although established but a year and a half, yet they have built up a business that is unequalcd by any house in the city, or perhaps, in any other city—for the length of time established. The firm is composed of C. Dernburg, L. Glick and J. Horner, and is located at 191-193-195-197 and 199 State Street, with a frontage on Adams Street also of 160 feet. The establishment is composed of 34 departments, all under control of efficient managers. In fact, the entire establishment is carried on in the most systematic manner. From cellar to garret “system” is the watch-word, and without perfect system it would be impossible for this firm to do the enormous business they do. Four hundred people are employed in the various departments, making the house a veritable bee-hive when all are at work.
The store is magnificently fitted up, and the stock is arranged so that all appears to the very best advantage, and gives a most pleasing effect. The name this firm have adopted is certainly most apsirable place to trade; the housewife can here find almost everything needed. On their dress-goods’ counters are all grades of goods, from the cheapest prints to the most costly goods manufactured. The same may be said of all departments, “you pays your money and you takes your choice.”
Buying as they do in very large quantities, and being willing to sell at small margins of profit, the firm is able to give bargains not to be had at smaller establishments. “Once a customer at the Leader always a customer” is the rule. The generous treatment accorded all who trade here is one of the first causes of the firm’s popularity.
The firm have a capital of S2,000,000, and their business for 1891 amounted to the enormous sum of one million, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, taking into consideration the fact that the firm only began business in September, 1890, this showing is certainly wonderful.
The individual members of this firm are C. Dernburg, L. Glick, I. Horner Mr. Dernburg is a native of Germany, Mr. Glick of New York, and Mr. Horner was born in Chicago. They justly deserve their need of praise, and it is hoped they may succeed in the future as they have in the past, until “ The Leader?” may surpass all competitors, until “The Leader” may be a household word in all the country as it is in Chicago and vicinity at this time.
The Leader Building
Decorated for Dedication Day, Columbian Exposition, 1892
The Leader building.
Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1895
The firm of Dernberg, Glick and Horner, proprietors of the “Leader,” has failed, and today the doors of that large department store at the northeast corner of State and Adams streets will be closed. The stock, fixtures, teams, and other property of the firm are in the hands of the creditors on chattel mortgages securing claims aggregating $225,000. An inventory of the stock is now in progress and is expected to show a list of assets worth $400,000 or June $450,000.
The failure was a surprise. Some time ago creditors of the firm became anxious for bills not yet due. There were rumors in financial circles that increased the trouble, and the firm was hard pressed. Money was raised to the amount of $225,000 on chattel mortgages which covered everything, and which were given to the National Bank of Illinois as first mortgages and to the estate if H. A. Kohn, I. Lowenberg, and Charles Liebenstein. The bank in this manner became a preferred creditor. This eased matters for a time, and it was arranged with other parties to increase the capital of the concern by the investment of between $100,000 and $150,000 in its business. The negotiations had been nearly completed, and Dernberg, Glick & Horner made their arrangements accordingly. Bills were paid on presentation and even discounted, in this way the cash ran low, and July 3 the prospective investors were called upon to carry out their agreement. At the last moment, they reconsidered their determination, withdrew from the deal, and left the firm in bad shape. The bank demanded a reduction of its line of credit with the firm, and there was nothing to do but to surrender the property under the chattel mortgages. The mortgages took possession Wednesday evening and at once set to work to take an inventory of the stock.
“Leader” Established in 1890.
The Leader store was established early in the fall of 1890, the firm being composed of Carl Dernberg, a member of the cloak manufacturing firm of Morper & Dernberg, Lipman Glick, who had been engaged in the manufacture of sausage casings, and Joseph Horner of the wholesale dry goods firm of Shoyer, Horner & Co. The firm was looked upon as a strong one from the business records of the partners, but from the first it suffered from lack of sufficient capital with which to conduct business on such a large scale. In consequence the firm has been struggling constantly during the five years of its existence, and though it has done a business of $2,000,000 a year, it has been under constant pressure. Mr. Dernberg said yesterday the prospects of the firm had never been so encouraging as at the present time; that the addition of $100,000 to the working capital would have placed the firm ion a solid footing and assured a prosperous future. The failure to get the funds counted upon Mr. Dernberg said, was a blow all the more severe that it was unexpected.
Dernberg, Glick & Horner employed about 450 people.
New York Times, July 11, 1895
FRAUD IS ALLEGED.
Sequel to the Recent Failure of a Chicago Store
CHICAGO, Ill., July 11.— Fraud is now charged in the “Leader’ department-store failure. A capias has been issued for Paul Dernburg, Lipman Glick and Joseph Homer, members of the firm, upon affidavit of J. V. Farwell & Co., charging the dry-goods firm with having made false statements in regard to its credit and obtaining goods on the statement. Glick was arrested and gave bail in the sum of $12,000. The other members are expected to come in during the day and give bail.
Going out of business notices
July 10-11, 1895
Chicago Tribune, January 5, 1896
Lapp & Flerscheim, the wholesale jewelers, have leased from the Dakota Building company the second, third, and fourth stories of the four-story building at the northeast corner of State and Adams streets. The term is twelve years years, and the rental is reported to be about $20,000 a year. The building is the one formerly occupied by the Leader store and it has a frontage of 76 feet on State street, extending back to 147 feet on Adams street. Since the early part of December the structure has been occupied by Fred Griesheimer. Lapp & Flersheim will take possession March 1; some important improvements will be made to the building. An attractive entrance to the upper stories of the building and a new elevator will be put in, while a more extensive electric lighting plant will be installed in place of the present one. The lessees will probably occupy the third story and sublet the rest of the building. The first story has not been rented, but negotiations are under way for a lease of the premises. Lapp & Flersheim now occupy the second story of the Stewart Building at the northwest corner of State and Washington streets and their lease on that expires this spring.
Chicago Tribune, January 26, 1896
Each week brings to the surface important leasehold changes in the business district. Among recent events of this nature is the removal of the Peacock jewelry firm from the northwest corner of State and Washington streets to the old Leader location, at the northeast corner of State and Adams streets.
Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1937
The one hundredth anniversary of continuous business under the same name, ownership, and management is being celebrated today by C. D. Peacock, the State street jewelry firm.
Chicago had a population of 4,000 and had only recently dropped its frontier designation of Fort Dearborn when Elijah Peacock opened his small store at what what was then 135 Lake street on Feb. 9, 1837. Lake and South Water were about the only streets in the village at that time and numbering began at the river instead of at State street.
First Tribune Office Near.
Thus Elijah Peacock’s shop stood upon in the middle of the block between La Salle and Wells street. Ten years later, on June 10, 1847, when the city had grown to 16,000, The Tribune was established and was housed less than half a block from the jeweler’s.
The newspaper’s first issue was printed and districuted from a single room on the third floor of a building at Lake and La Salle streets. Lake street was then the center of the retail district. The management of Peacock’s say that the establishment has always been in the center of trade.
The Peacock family has operated this store through four generations. Elijah, the founder, died in 1889 at the age of 76, and the business was conducted by his son, Charles D., the “C. D. Peacock” whose name the firm now bears.
At left is a sketch of the store at 155 Lake street opened ny Elijah Peacock on Feb. 9, 1837, when Chicago was a town of 4,000 population. At right is the Peacock store at 199 Randolph street as it appeared in 1857.
Sons Operate Establishment.
Charles D. Peacock died in 1903 and two sons, Robert E. and Walter C., have since operated the establishment, Robert as president and Walter as secretary-treasurer. The fourth generation is represented by Charles D. Peacock, son of Robert, and Stewart B. Peacock, son of Walter.
In 1849 both Peacock’s and The Tribune changed locations, the jeweler moving to what was then 199 Randolph street and the newspaper to quarters over a grocery store at Lake and Clark streets, one block east of its former address.
On Randolph street Elijah Peacock sold jewelry to the women of Chicago, repaired the watches of the men, and adjusted the chronometers of the lake boat skippers until the great fire of ’71 destroyed his shop. It also destroyed The Tribune’s plant. The newspaper had made two other changes during the years, moving to what was then 53 Clark street in 1852 and in 1869 to Dearborn and Madison, where it erected a four story building of Joliet limestone.
Joseph Medill Arrives.
It also had acquired a new editor, Joseph Medill of Ohio, a young man trained in the law, but who found the publishing business more attuned to his spirit. Medill came to The Tribune in 1854 and in 1858 the paper absorbed The Press. For two years it was known as The Press and Tribune, after which it reverted back to its original name.
After the great fire, Elijah Peacock’s jewelry store went to a third location at 96 West Madison street and The Tribune rebuilt its fire shattered building at Dearborn and Madison streets. Once again the two institutions were close to another.
Peacock’s remained at the Madison location for two years, until 1873, when Elijah and his son, “C. D.,” moved the business to State and Washington streets. It remained there until ’96, when “C. D.” moved south along the great retail thoroughfare to Adams street.
The Tribune remained at Madison and Dearborn until the completion of the present tower. In 1902, however, it constructed a 17 story skyscraper which still stands at Madison and Dearborn. Peacock’s remained at State and Adams from 1896 to 1927 then moved one block north to its present location on the southeast corner of State and Monroe streets.
1922 C. D. Peacock 85th Anniversary Booklet
Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1946
Wreckers will start tomorrow morning demolishing the four story building at the northeast corner of State and Adams sts. to make way for a million dollar improvement. The Baskin Clothing subsidiary of Hart, Schaffner & Marx, has obtained authorization by the civilian production administration for a five story building, said Meyer, Kestnbaum, president of Hart, Schaffner & Marx. Completion is set for May 1, 1947.
Tobey’s Furniture Co.
Robinson Map 1886
Volume 1, Plate 7
NE Corner State and Adams Streets
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
Chicago Tribune, September 30, 1954