Gilbert Hubbard & Co. (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
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.
Inter Ocean, December 31, 1881
GILBERT HUBBARD & CO.
The firm name of Gilbert Hubbard & Ca, so well known here, is dissolved. The partnership existing since Jan. 1, 1858, between Gilbert Hubbard and George B. Carpenter, was dissolved May 1, 1881, by the death of Mr. Gilbert Hubbard, and since that date the business has been conducted under the title of George B. Carpenter & Co. The old house at No. 202 to 208 South Water street is still in use, and the stock of cordage, flags, Awnings, tents, wire rope, rain-proof covers, etc., as large as ever.
The prosperity of this port and the country at large means big business for this house. The magnificent crops in the Northwest caused a large increase the past year.
Cotton duck, for supplying the machinery in the field. twine, for binding grain (now universally used); and rain-proof goods have been disposed of in immense quantities.
The trade in tents and hammocks has rapidly increased. The heated term brings these luxuries into great request, and makes them almost necessities. The sale of these
goods and awnings for houses has doubled each year for some time back, and other branches of the trade have increased almost in proportion.
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, Inter Ocean, 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
Gilbert Hubbard & Co.
202-208 South Water Street
Greeley-Carlson Atlas of Chicago
Marquis’ Hand-Book of Chicago, 1884
George B. Carpenter & Co., and their immediate predecessors in the house they now represent, have been prominently identified with every step of the commercial development of Chicago for more than a third of a century. The business was established in 1840 by Geo. A. Robb, only three years after Chicago had been incorporated as a city. Five years later, in 1845, a partner was admitted under the name and style of Payson & Robb. In 1850 Payson retired and Gilbert Hubbard entered the firm, the name changing to Hubbard & Robb. Upon the death of Mr. Robb in 1857, Gilbert Hubbard & Co. succeeded, and during the twenty years following advanced the house to a leading position in the trade, and the name of Gilbert Hubbard & Co. became a household word throughout the whole western country. Gilbert Hubbard died in May, 1881, and on the first day of the following year the vast business of the old concern passed into the hands of Geo. B. Carpenter & Co., who have since managed it with the same far-reaching enterprise and unswerving integrity that characterized the Old establishment through so many years of eventful history. To-day Geo. B. Carpenter & Co. constitute the oldest and most favorably known ship chandlery house in the west. From 1859 until the great fire of 1871 reduced the city to ashes, the concern occupied a large iron front building at Nos. 205 and 207 South Water Street. An accompanying illustration presents the building as it then appeared.
It was burned to the ground on the night of October 9th of that memorable year; but be fore the ruins were yet cold a tent was erected above the smoldering embers, and Gilbert Hubbard & Co. announced that they were ready to proceed with business. The tent answered the purposes of more appropriate quarters until the ruins of an old grain warehouse at 14 and 16 Market Street were boarded up and put into order for the reception of a stock of ship chandlery goods. The new establishment was occupied in November following the fire, and was considered a great curiosity in its way at that time. Fully half of the rude structure was below the level of the sidewalks, as will be seen by the illustration on this page. In April, 1872, the business was removed to a capacious three story building—one ef the largest and best that had been erected after the fire— located at 226 to 232 South Water Street. In 1874 the erection of the present building was begun, and a year later it was completed and occupied. It is situated on the northeast corner of South Water Street and Fifth Avenue, is five stories in height, and is one of the best business structures in that locality. The upper story is used as a general storage room. The sail loft is on the fourth floor, and is the best equipped apartment of the kind in the country. The third floor is devoted chiefly to manufacturing purposes, and presents at all times a busy scene. On the second floor is stored a large variety of the lighter class of goods, such as cotton duck, in all widths, and twines and cordage of all weights. The offices and general salesrooms are on the first floor. In the cellarlight, airy and perfectly dry apartment stored large quantities of heavy goods, including wire-rope, large sizes of manilla rope, heavy hardware and supplies for saw-mills, flour-mills, rolling-mills, mining companies and railroads. As manufacturers of tents, of every description, awnings, rain-proof covers, and, in fact, everything belonging to this branch of business, Messrs. Carpenter & Co. stand without a peer.
Albert Dickinson is the leading seed merchant of the west, if not of the country, and his house is one of the oldest in the business. It was established in 1854, in a very modest way, by A. F. Dickinson, father of the present proprietor, as a South Water Street general commission and seed house. Albert Dickinson succeeded to the business in 1872, since which time the transactions of the house have been confined exclusively to the trade in field seeds of every variety. The business has grown very rapidly, especially during the last ten years, and the trade of the house now extends to all parts of the United States ; also to Canada, Europe and other foreign countries. The buildings occupied comprise three spacious warehouses located, respectively, at 115 to 119 Kinzie Street; 104 to 110 Michigan Street, and 198 to 204 Market Street. The stock carried embraces every variety of field seeds—clover, timothy, millet, flax, orchard grass, blue grass, red top, etc., also bird seeds and pop and is always sufficient to meet any demand. The office and salesrooms are at 115 Kinzie Street.
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.
Gilbert Hubbard Co.
Robinson Fire Insurance Map
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.