E. F. Hollister & Co.
Life Span: 1872-1874
Location: 121 State Street
Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1874
Chicago has been visited by another large conflagration, this time right in the heart of its magnificent business centre, and a loss of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars of property is entailed, including the total destruction of a splendid edifice and the partial damage of two others. The south end of the massive and palatial Booksellers’ Row, on the east side of State street, between Washington and Madison, has succumbed to the fiery element, and for a time the flames bid fair to work destruction on one of tne finest blocks in te land, if not on the elegant rows of buildings on the opposite sides of State, Madison and Washington Streets and Wabash avenue.
THE TELEGRAPH TARDY THIS TIME.
And The monster came at the early hour of 4½ o’clock this morning, stealing like a thief in the night and breaking out with great and sudden fury. The flames were first seen by Officer McShane, of Pinkerton’s police, who was walking in front of Giles Bros. & Co’s. great jewelry store, Nos. 121 and 123 State street, adjoining the Boyce building on the northeast corner of Madison, and they burst out from the front windows of the top or fifth floor in great volume. He ran to the of State and Randolph streets and gave the signal, but for some reason, at present, unexplained, the bells did not ring, nor did they give the alarm when box 14, at Dearborn and Washington streets, was turned in by Sergeant McDonough, of Pinkerton’s force. Officer Mead, of the regular police, finally succeeded in getting an alarm from box 19, corner Wabash avenue and Madison street. In the meantime, but twenty minutes after the fire broke out at about 4:35, engine No. 13, stationed at Dearborn and Lake streets, answered before hearing the gong in their house. By this time the magnificent structure of five stories in height and 148 by 50 feet, was enveloped in a dense mass of flame and smoke, which shot upward and outward in heavy volumes. The puny efforts at first made were rendered herculean in effect as soon as the Fire Marshal reached the scene, which was in a very few minutes after the bells rung. He gave a second and a third alarm, and called out eighteen engines and their auxiliaries. Heavy streams of water were soon poured into the burning pile, and on surrounding property. The heat was intense, and warped and cracked the glass in the stores on the opposite side of the street—a hundred feet distant.
HOW THE FIRE SPREAD.
There was a vast amount of inflammable material on the floors above the first, and the fire burned with alarming rapidity. The adjoining building on the south side is the colossal one occupied by Richards, Shaw & Winslow, wholesale dry goods dealers, and, but for the barrier presented by a heavy wall, it would have soon caught fire. The corresponding structure of Peter Page, on the north, was sorely threatened with total destruction for the nonce, and but for the pomp measures taken by the Marshal, would have been burned in the conflagration. Streams were taken up on the roofs of the buildings last mentioned and a steady torrent of water poured from top, rear and front.
THE CORNICES MELTED
and fell in all directions, and the splendid ornamental front of Nos. 121 and 123 was soon a thing of the past, and a pile of ruin. While about 30 firemen were busy at the rear of the building a portion of the top wall fell, and one of them, James Lefevse, Assistant-Foreman of No. 12, was badly injured about the the lower limbs.
It was not until 6 o’clock that the danger of a spread of the conflagration was past. By 8 o’clock the fire was almost entirely extinguished. An immense crowd of citizens gathered immediately after the alarms were give, and the streets again presented the appearance Chicago has so often witnessed on similar occasions.
as stated, will reach three-quarters of a million dollars. The first floor of Nos. 121 and No. 123 was occupied by Giles Bros. & Co., as a retail jewelry establishment. It was one of the finest stores in the country, and was truly magnificent in its fittings, it containing many ornaments and works of art and virtue. The stock consisted of diamonds, watches, clocks, bronzes and jewelry, valued at $250,000, on which there is an
INSURANCE OF $150,000,
in all the principal companies and agencies in the country, the policies ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 each. The firm occupied the store but a short time, taking it soon after it was vacated by Keene, Cooke & Co., booksellers. Wm. A. Giles was on the ground in half an hour after the alarm was given, but not a dollar’s worth—not an article, was saved from his store, nor from the floors above. The same firm lost $100,003 in the great fire of 1871, and were located on the block next north, their store having been occupied but a few months before.
E. F. Hollister & Co., furniture and carpet dealers and manufacturers, occupied nearly all the basement and all the floors above Giles Bros. Mr. Hollister was absent at Riverside, and up to 8 m. had not come in. From Mr. Henry S. Carpenter, his representative, and a salesman in the house, the writer learned that the fire was first seen to break forth from the upper floor of Nos. 121 and 123. No one was in their portion of the building at the time, and the origin of the fire is not known. There were no combustibles nor fires on any of the floors, and Mr. Carpenter is at a loss to account for its origin.
THE SECOND FLOOR
was occupied by carpet stock, the third by furniture, carpets, and drapery goods, fourth as a carpet-making department, and the fifth as a drapery manufactory. The entire stock on these floors was destroyed. Owing to the absence of Mr. Hollister no estimate on the loss could be given, and the amount of insurance. The damage will probably reach at least $150,000.
The same firm occupied the floors of No. 117 and 119, over Jabsen, McClurg & Co.’s bookstore, but no great damage resulted. The fire did not communicate with this building.
The last-named firm suffered no damages to their immense book stock.
Hollister & Co. employed 100 hands in the burned building. Their business will suffer only temporary interruption.
Richards, Shaw & Winslow occupy the Boyce Building, on the corner of State and Madison. Their stock was damaged to the extent of $40,000 by water. The building was damaged about $10,000 worth.
The insurance on stock is $350,000, placed in numerous companies in this country, Europe and Canada.
Inter Ocean, February 1, 1875
The elegant new five-story marble front store Nos. 121 and 123 State street, rebuilt on place of one destroyed by the fire last summer, and owned by Phelps, Dodge & Co., of New York, has been rented by them for three years to Mandel Brothers, dry goods dealers of this city, and will be opened by them on the 1st of March next. The store was rented for $14,000 for first year, $15,000 for second year, and $16,000 for third year.
121 State Street
Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1875
MANDEL BROTHERS. The house of Mandel Brothers is now one of the oldest in Chicago. Older readers will remember that it was established in the year 1855. Subsequently, at the corner of State and Harrison, an elegant building was erected by the firm. This was destroyed in the July fire of last year, after which the energetic proprietors found temporary quarters on Washington street until their removal to the present elegant establishment 121 and 123 State. The building now occupied by them is conceded to be one of the chief dry goods houses of the country. A choice and varied stock of goods, uniformity courteous attention to customers of every grade of life, a willingness to refund money when articles do not prove as represented, and a determination not to be undersold, are the distinguishing features of this excellent institution. These characteristics have given the firm of Mandel Brothers an enviable position in the esteem of the entire community.