William B. Pierce Building
Life Span: 1872-About 1949
Location: 335 & 337 Wabash (old)
512-514 S. Wabash
The Lakeside Monthly, October, 1872
Messrs. Biggs, Spencer & Co., who occupy No. 335 as dealers in Guns and Cutlery, were formerly located on Lake street. The gentlemen who compose this firm are among the fortunate men of Chicago. A few days after the fire many Chicago firms announced their ability to pay one hundred cents on the dollar of all their liabilities, and this firm was one of the number. This announcement lifted a corner of the pall which was settling on the public mind in that day of gloom. Their orders were all promptly filled without interruption, and in three months they were buying so extensively of their special goods that one invoice was kindly divided to accommodate a New York wholesale house, who could obtain the goods in no other way.
No. 337 is occupied by Abram French & Co., with a large stock of china, glass, and silver-plated ware, and cutlery. This firm makes a specialty of elegant Bohemian and other rare goods. It is a new house in Chicago, being a Boston firm, and the same in name that existed in Boston in 1822. It is now continued in the same name, with some junior members added. After fifty years it adds a house in Chicago as the great distributing centre of the country; and the young and energetic members of the firm in this city declare their expectation of eclipsing the Boston firm.
Biggs, Spencer & Co.
The Lakeside Monthly
The Lakeside Monthly, December, 1872
The building shown in our annexed engraving stands but a few feet from that now used as a post office, and which, as the then Wabash avenue Methodist Church, after losing one of its towers in the fire, was permitted to stand as a barrier for the protection of the southern and most beautiful residence portion of the city. The building shown in the engraving was commenced by Wm. B. Pierce in the month following, for Messrs. Biggs, Spencer & Co., dealers in Cutlery and Firearms, and Abram French & Co., dealers in China and Glassware — names familiar to most of us in the eventful mercantile history of our city, as well as that of Boston, where the house of Abram French & Co. was first established, in 1822. Recently, the rapid development of the West, added to the increasing magnitude of their interests in this city, necessitated the opening of the Chicago branch, which, uniting the capital and experience of the old house with the new and vigorous energy of its resident partners, promises ere long to outshine the parent concern itself.
Of Biggs, Spencer & Co., as a firm, whose members have been identified with Chicago since 1855, and well known to us all, we will only add that the facilities for economical production they now and always possessed in Sheffield, added to their long experience as importers, commend them to the acquaintance of every merchant dealer in the Northwest. Where shall profitable investments be made, if not with those who have given to their own branch of business the earnest labor and patient study of many years, and who, by continued residence in foreign markets, and ever new and elegant designs, secure always the best article at the lowest cost?
Pierce’s Building Occupied by Biggs, Spencer & Co. and Abram French & Co.
335 & 337 Wabash Ave.
The Land Owner, June, 1872
Biggs, Spencer & Co. and Abram French & Co. Advertisements
The Land Owner
Chicago Tribune, June 3, 1901
Mr. Edwin A. Potter was born in Bath. Me.. in 1845. and was educated in the public schools. When Abram French & Co. of Boston opened a Chicago branch, in 1872. Mr. Potter was here to take charge of the office. He continued with them until 1879, when the firm of French. Potter & Wilson. dealers in china and glassware, was formed. This was dissolved In 1880, and Mr. Potter entered the firm of Lyon, Potter & Co. Owing to the death of Mr. Lyon and Mr. Steinway of the firm, it was dissolved late in 1897, and in the following March, Mr. Potter went into the American Trust and Savings Bank. At the death of General McNulta Mr. Potter was selected for receiver of the National Bank of Illinois and the Calumet Electric road. He is a director tn the Chicago branch of the Audit company of New York.
William B. pierce Building
Robinson Fire Map, 1886
Volume 1, Plate 7