Gilbert Hubbard & Co. (Later George B. Carpenter & Co.)
Life Span: 1874-After 1912
Location: NE Corner N. Wells and W. South Water Streets
George B. Carpenter Store (formerly (Gilbert Hubbard & Co.)
Fifth Avenue and South Water Street
History of Chicago, Isaac Guyer, 1862
Few great cities present such commercial attractions as Chicago, and few commercial houses represent so great and important an interest as the one of which this article will illustrate. Chicago is the commercial centre of the Northwest, with a population, today, of more than nine million of souls, which has sprung into existence, and developed the proportions for an empire, since the War of 1812, situated at the head of a vast chain of inland seas, upon which floats a marine of more than fifteen hundred vessels, with an aggregate of nearly four hundred thousand tonnage, employing more than eighteen thousand men. At the present time there are sixty-five more vessels on the stocks in the process of building, many of these at the different ports on the shores of Lake Michigan, and most of them, as is the case with most of the ship building on this lake, are supplied with their tackling by the leading commercial houses in this city. The principal and leading one is that of Messrs. Gilbert Hubbard & Co., who occupy that massive iron structure of architectural grandeur, which will defy the desolation of time and the spoil of ages, located on the corner of South Water and Wells Streets. If the reputation they have already attained, for sagacious, careful and honorable merchants, shall continue as unsullied by the hand of time, as the iron building they occupy, long will they be proudly numbered with merchant princes. …Their long experience makes them masters of the business in all its minute details, as most of the sailing masters of the upper lakes can attest; their large capital enables them to produce the best articles at the lowest price.”
Chicago Tribune October 3, 1880
THE HARBOR STORM SIGNAL
The petition of Chicago vessel, propellor, and tug owners, and agents asking for the removal of the harbor storm signal from the Exposition Building to some point in the vicinity of the lumber market received prompt attention at the hands of the Acting Chief Signal Officer of the Army, who at once instructed Sergt. Mitchell, in charge of the Chicago Signal Station, to make careful examination of all the eligible main river points, and forward a recommendation of the one deemed by him to be the most suitable. In accordance with his instructions, Sergt. Mitchell spent considerable time along the docks yesterday. The result, it is said, was that he became so favorably impressed with the building owned and occupied by Messrs. Gilbert Hubbard & Co., ship-chandlers, corner of Fifth avenue and South Water street, as to make overtures for the privilege of hoisting signals upon the fine, vessel-rigged spar which towers above its roof to the height of seventy-five feet. The overtures were regarded with favor by the junior members of the firm, and it now only remains for the senior member, Mr. Gilber Hubbard, to give his consent in order to secure a recommendation to the Bureau in Washington. Inasmuch as a lengthening of the halyards will enable the signals to be hoisted from the sidewalk or street, and thus obviate the necessity of traversing the interior of the building at night with a lighted lantern, there cannot be the slightest doubt of obtaining Mr. Hubbard’s consent also. Judging from what has transpired thus far the reporter feels warranted in assuring the readers of the marine department of THE TRIBUNE that the storm signals will be displayed from the masthead over Gilbert Hubbard & Co.’s Building in less than a fortnight. No better selection can possibly be made, let those who will seek far and near.
It is proposed by the vessel and tug owners to affix to the building from which the signal is displayed a box of fair size, with glass front, and placed therein a series of slides bearing in gilt capitals the leading points of the compass—viz.: N., N.E., E., S.E., S., S.W., W., N.W. This box is to be locked and the key placed in the possession of the signal officer, who will display at the front the slide denoting the direction from which a storm is approaching whenever the order, “Signals up,” is forwarded from Washington. The box will be located sufficiently low down on the wall to enable all who feel interested to inform themselves without the least difficulty. This idea, which is one of the best yet evolved in connection with storm signals, originated with J. S. Dunham, Esq., who has taken a leading part in the effort to secure the removal of the storm signal from the Exposition Building to a more convenient part of the city.
Commercial and Architectural Chicago, G. W. Grear, 1884
Geo. B. Carpenter & Co., Fifth avenue and South Water street, is by succession the oldest and best-known ship-chandlery house in the West. In 1840 Geo. A. Robb established the business, admitting Mr. Payson in 1845. In 1850 Mr. Payson retired and Gilbert Hubbard came in. In 1857 Mr. Robb died, and the firm was continued as Gilbert Hubbard & Co. In May, 1881, Mr. Hubbard the business, which had grown to immense proportions, became the property of its present owners, Messrs. Geo. B. Carpenter & Co.
This business comprises heavy hardware, wire and manilla rope, supplies for flour-mills, saw mills, rolling-m ills, railway and mining companies, besides the manufacture of sails, tents, awnings, water proof canvas, tarpaulins, etc., etc. It being the representative house and the best known, illustrations of its present quarters, and just after the great fire of 1871, are presented.
Gilbert Hubbard & Co.
Chicago’s First Half Century 1833-1883
A NOTABLE PIONEER HOUSE.
The oldest ship-chandlery house in Chicago and the one best known to the marine service of our great lakes was founded in 1840 by George A. Robb, was succeeded in 1845 by Payson & Robb, and then in 1850 by Hubbard & Robb. George A. Robb died in 1857 in Havana, Cuba, and the name of the firm was changed to Gilbert Hubbard & Co. , continuing under that name twenty-five years. Gilbert Hubbard died in May. 1881. Jan. 1, 1882. the firm was changed to its present name of George B. Carpenter & Co. For a whole generation it has been a representative house, distinguished for enterprise, for integrity, for financial responsibility, and for doing its full share in building up Chicago and in promoting the welfare of its citizens.
GEORGE B. CARPENTER & CO.,
as successors to Gilbert Hubbard & Co. , are at present the largest house, and are enjoying a larger business in their line than any other house in this market Their stock includes complete lines of cordage, cotton duck, tackle-blocks, twines of all kinds for any and all uses, among which may be especially mentioned twines and cords for horse-nets and hammocks, for grain-binding harvesters, gilling and seine twines for fishermen’s use, etc. ; asbestos materials of all kinds, asbestos paints, and asbestos roofings, packings, cotton waste, lubricating oils, and a general line of mill and railway supplies. In manufactured goods they deal extensively in tents wagon-covers, awnings, and anything that can be made of, or furnished with, cotton duck. As buyers from, and selling agents for, the manufacturers direct in their several lines, this linn are in a position to make prices at all times in competition with the lowest. Illustrated catalogues and price-lists are mailed free upon application
George B. Carpenter Store
Print ad from 1890
History of Chicago, Andreas, 1884
GEORGE B. CARPENTER & CO., at the corner of South Water Street and Fifth Avenue, are manufacturers and wholesale dealers in sundries for mill, railway and vessel use, of marine hardware, wire, rope, blocks, twines and cordage, and are also ship-chandlers and sail-makers. The business of this house was established by George A. Robb, in 1840, only three years after the incorporation of Chicago as a city. In 1845, Mr. Payson was admitted to the firm and the name was changed to Payson & Robb. Mr. Payson retired in 1850, and Gilbert Hubbard entered the firm, the style of which was then made Hubbard & Robb. After the death of Mr. Robb, in 1857, George B. Carpenter became a partner in the firm, and the name became Gilbert Hubbard & Co. This style was continued during twenty-four years, until Mr. Hubbard’s death, in 1881, and in the course of those years the house advanced to its present position in the trade, and the name became a familiar one throughout the West. On January 1, 1882, the business passed into the hands of the present firm, who had been Mr. Hubbard’s associates for a quarter of a century, and George B. Carpenter & Co. have since cared for the trade, upon the same principles that characterized the old establishment. From 1859, until the great fire of 1871, the concern occupied the large iron-front building at Nos. 205-207 South Water Street, immediately opposite their present location. It was burned to the ground the night of October 9 of that memorable year, but before the ruins were yet cold, a tent was erected and Gilbert Hubbard & Co. resumed business. The tent answered the purpose a few days, until more commodious quarters were fitted-up from the ruins of an old grain-house at Nos. 14-16 Market Street, which were occupied in November following the fire. In April, 1872, the business was removed to a capacious three-story building, one of the largest and best erected after the fire, located at Nos. 226-32 South Water Street. In 1874, the erection of the present building was begun, and a year later was -completed and occupied. It is situated on the northeast corner of South Water Street and Fifth Avenue, and is five stories in height and one of the best business structures on the street. The upper story is used as a general storage room. The sail loft is on the fourth floor and is one of the best and largest apartments of the kind in the country. The fourth floor is devoted principally to manufacturing purposes, and presents at all times a busy scene, a large number of skilled mechanics being employed ; on the second story is stored a large variety of the lighter class of goods. The offices and general sales-rooms are on the first floor. In the cellar, a light, airy and perfectly dry apartment, are stored quantities of heavy goods.
George B. Carpenter came to Chicago with his father in 1850, and received his education in the “St. Mary’s of the Lake” Academy, destroyed by the fire. His father, Benjamin C. Carpenter, was prominently connected with the public affairs of the city, both political and commercial. He was the first president of the Board of Public” Works, and was a member of the old firm of Marsh & Carpenter, who were among the early packers in the city. His death occurred in 1881. Mr. Carpenter entered the present firm in his twenty-third year. Of life he has made a success, and is justly honored and respected by the thousands who have formed his acquaintance during his extensive business career.
George B. Carpenter Store
Print ad from 1907
Motor Boating, December 1912
Progress of George B. Carpenter & Co.
For upwards of forty years the firm of George B. Carpenter & Co., of Chicago, was located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and South Water Street, where the business of manufacturing and jobbing marine marine supplies was carried on; dating this period as the result of steadily increasing trade one department after another was forced to vacate and settle in either the company’s factory building at Illinois and Wells Streets or the warehouse at corner of Indiana and Orleans Streets. The phenomenal growth of the motor boat trade eventually resulted in the original premises being quite inadequate to the volume of business and some nine months ago the Carpenter Co. removed altogether to Wells and Michigan Streets with altogether gratifying results. A special study is made of the prompt and accurate filling of orders and personal attention to individual requirements. The company claim that they now have the largest and best equipment in the country devoted to the distribution of marine supplies.
George B. Carpenter Store
Robinson Map 1886
Volume 3, Plate 1
Sometime in the mid-twentieth century, George B. Carpenter & Co. was bought by the Astrup Co.
Crain’s Cleveland Business, March 3, 2008
More than a year after the announcement that North Carolina fabrics company Glen Raven would acquire Cleveland awning distributor The Astrup Co. and another North Carolina outfit, John Boyle & Co., corporate officials have renamed the combined company Tri Vantage LLC. Though the name is new, we are well-known with a rich heritage of leadership in the specialty fabrics industry, Tri Vantage president Harry Gobble said. Astrup’s Cleveland roots go back to 1876, when it was founded by J.O. Astrup, a sail-maker from Denmark. Its relationship with Glen Raven stretches back more than a century. A new corporate web site is set to go online this week.
John Alden Carpenter
John Alden Carpenter was born in Park Ridge, Illinois on February 28, 1876, and raised in a musical household. He was educated at Harvard University, where he studied under John Knowles Paine, and was president of the Glee Club, also writing music for the Hasty-Pudding Club. Showing great promise as a composer, he journeyed to London to study under Edward Elgar, and finally succeeded in studying with him in Rome in 1906, later returning to the United States to study under Bernhard Ziehn in Chicago through 1912. It was there he earned a comfortable living as vice-president of the family business, the George B. Carpenter & Co., from 1909 to his retirement in 1936. After his retirement, he spent much of his time composing. Carpenter served as Chairman of the Board of Children’s Home Society of Illinois and a life trustee of the Children’s Home Society of Illinois Foundation. He died in Chicago on April 26, 1951.
Carpenter’s compositional style was considered to be mainly “mildly modernistic and impressionistic”; also, many of his works strive to encompass the spirit of America, including the patriotic The Home Road and several of his works are jazz-inspired. He composed three ballets: Krazy Kat: A Jazz Pantomime, based on the Krazy Kat comics, was premiered at the New York Town Hall on 20 January 1922, and was the first work by a concert composer to use the word ‘jazz’ in its title; possibly his best-known is Skyscrapers (1926), set in New York (it premiered at the Metropolitan Opera), but equally inspired by his native Chicago.1
1Krazy Kat was published in many American newspapers between 1913 and 1944.