Nixon’s Exchange Building II
Life Span: 1872-1883 Tivoli Garden (1874-1879)
Location: Clark and Washington Streets
Chicago Tribune, January 21, 1872
The Colehour Block, formerly Nixon’s Exchange, is being rebuilt. It is fronting the Court House Square, is to be 90 feet on Washington street, by 180 feet on Exchange Place, and will be five stories high with fire-proof brick vaults throughout.
Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1874
TIVOLI GARDEN—Great Lager-Beer Palace.
It has been a theme of wonder among those of our citizens who love the foaming lager that no attempt has ever been made in Chicago to organize a first-class, high-toned, palatial, artistic, and recherche saloon for the patrons of that gently stimulating fluid. In all the great cities of America the want has been generously supplied. New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis all have their beer palaces—Chicago alone drinks her beverage in wooden shanties, or small and badly ventilated rooms, the citizens of Chicago to-day have no first-class beer-garden to invite her visitors to join in the social glass of lager. Why, the honor and the hospitable reputation of Chicago would be at stake under such circumstances.
This great lack of elevated and enlightened drinking accommodation did not, however, escape the eagle eyes of that enterprising and prosperous Brewing Company—Messrs. Downer & Bemis & Co. The latter gentleman especially discovered the error of our ways, and resolved the reputation of Chicago, in the ways of drinking lager-beer, from a fashionable standpoint, should be redeemed.
The first thing in order was to rent a suitable place for the projected establishment. This was speedily accomplished, and the premises situated in the Exchange Building, corner of Clark and Washington streets, on the ground floor, were engaged. The main hall has a width of 56, and a depth of 125 feet. Workmen are now actively engaged in making all the necessary improvements, having a good frame-work to begin upon. The ceiling ius quite lofty, and the light and ventilation are admirable. The walls of the establishment, which will be known as the “Tivoli Garden,” have been beautifully decorated by Mr. J. J. McGrath, the well-known paper-hanger, who especially imported several enchanting Swiss and other foreign scenes, representing wood, water, and mountain peaks, in all their sublime and soul-stirring variety. The peaks of the Alps will be reflected from these gloriously-garnished walls in the full bumpers of lager which, will doubtless, be drained by the patrons of the place.
The Celebrated Tivoli Garden, Exchange Building, Cor. Clark & Washington Sts. Inaugurated By The Downer & Bemis Brewing Co.
The Land Owner, June, 1874
The counter, which is of solid walnut, is octagon in shape, and exquisitely finished as to carving and other adornments. The four corners of the saloon are ornamented with flower stands, from which, when the evening or other breezes blow, the perfume of all the sweet things of the season will reach the olfactories of the jolly company around the lively table. Also, there is a remarkably graceful fountain near the south end of the room, which will sprinkle, with its diamond drops, the devotees of the liquid that foams not so much with fury as with love.
Plentiful gas-jets and numerous chandeliers shed their lustre on the saloon after the sun has sunk to rest, so that darkness shall not prevail at the Tivoli Garden, by day or yet by night. J. S. Bassett & Co. are attending to this part of the business. The floral arrangements will be regulated by W. T. Shephard, whose experience is sufficient guarantee of his capability.
The fountains and aquariums for gold-fish are supplied by Gould Brothers & Dibble. Their work is of the most elegant character—no expenses being spared in the way of figured vases and other artistic matters. A great feature of the concern will be the cigar-stand and lunch-counter. The latter will be under the supervision of Mr. Sieblitz, who is a veteran in the art of catering, and knows the tastes of our business men to a nicety. The “merchants’ lunch” will be a great convenience to members of the Board of Trade, and other business men whose time is precious. Mr. A. L. McPherson will manage the cigar-stand. The counters, mirrors, chairs, tables, and other furniture are supplied by Charles E. Cook, the well-known cabinet-maker, whose work has no superior in this or any other city on the Continent.
To crown all, the government of the establishment is placed under the hands of Messrs. George Jochem and E. H. Parker, both gentlemen of experience in this particular line. Mr. Jochem is a native of Germany and Mr. Parker is an American, so that the wants and wishes of both nationalities will be perfectly understood and attended to.
The “Tivoli Garden” will be opened to the public on Wednesday morning. Downer & Bemis’ Brewing Company’s celebrated lager-beer made from California barley, will be dispensed to the thirsty multitude that will visit the Tivoli Garden.
Chicago Tribune, May 9, 1877
A scene like that witnessed at the Tivoli last night was never beheld in Chicago; not has its counterpart been furnished by any city in the American Union. It was the third anniversary of the opening of this unique institution, and many of the best-known people of Chicago, accompanied by their families, were in attendance at add to the eclat and participate in the pleasures of the occasion.
In Germany, where family recreation is practiced to an extent unknown among the rest of the Continental nations, the simple beer-garden, with its velvety grass, its plain benches and tables, its familiar music, and its rude lamps, serves as the favorite resort. In France, there is no family place of enjoyment. In England, the occasional picnic to the nearest piece of woods is the summer’s relaxation for most of the middle class. The Tivoli blends the best features of the various kinds of of national recreation. It is ornate and beautiful, like the finest restaurants in the best quarter of Paris. It is delightfully social and unembarrassed, like the family gardens of Vienna or Frankfort. In its profusion of plants and flowers, its noise of miniature waterfalls, its birds, its perfumes, and its pervading sense of “communicating with nature in its sweetest forms,” it has all the delicious freedom of the English lawn-party, or the still freer picnic, with a daintiness and a substantial comfort and luxury unattainable in the open air. These qualities of the Tivoli were the theme of many eloquent lips last night, and while visitors ate and praised the cooking, and drank and praised the brewer, they thanked the sagacity and the good taste which had bestowed upon the best class of the citizens of Chicago’s resort to which both sexes and all ages may come for rest, refreshment, and relaxation.
The sagacity is to be credited to Mr. H. V. Bemis and Hon. John H. McAvoy, proprietors of the Downer & Bemis Brewing Company. These two gentlemen, as astute as they are courteous, and as enterprising as they are astute, conceived the admirable plan of the Tivoli, and then carried it out with a richness of fulfillment of which last night’s spectacle was a grateful realization. The considerations which moved them into an undertaking so unique, demanding heavy outlays, and quite dependent for success upon their capital, character, and good taste, are worthy of recital. They knew its establishment would cost something of a fortune. They knew the kind of institution which was in their minds was one at which even Chicago would look, in advance, with incredulity, and that, in its relation to the public, it would be at first a perilous experiment, to be rewarded by superb and enduring success founded on good fame, good cooking, good service, good beer, and associations of beauty and refinement, or to fail dismally, and sink more thousands of dollars than many men make in a lifetime. But Mr. Bemis knew that his vats produced the best beer in the country, and he wished to be able to put it on draft in an institution where its quality would be adequately appreciated. He knew that his beer, made in Chicago, was a finer, purer, and mire refreshing beverage than any other in the United States; and, being proud of this, not only as a brewer but as a Chicagoan, he resolved that Chicago should possess an institution in which more and better Chicago beer should be drank than that of any foreign manufactures. He knew that the best classes of our people, who are thoroughly cosmopolitan, have come to understand perfectly the philosophy of beverages,—a philosophy which, by substituting a delicious draught, amber-tinted, tripped with prismatic bubbling foam, and health-giving in all its components, for poisons and coarser drinks, takes into account health and vigor, while it affords refreshment and relaxation, and which, by making beer drinking consistent in America, as it is in Europe, with the highest social rank and the finest culture, has contributed significantly to the improvement of general matters. He knew that all Chicago lacked to adopt this philosophy, at once epicurean and practical, was an appropriate resort,—a place in which fine cooking and fine beer should be combined with flowers, painting, unembarrassed social intercourse, and absolute security against unlicensed promiscuousness. This was their conception of the Tivoli; these were Mr. Bemis’ special reasons for putting into actuality the pleasing abstraction.
At an expenditure which only the immense capital of these gentlemen would permit, the Tivoli was established, and for two years the Chicago public, which loves quiet comfort, good lunches, and pleasant meetings with acquaintances, has rewarded the enterprise of the proprietors. It is universally admitted that this admirable place has no rival. Strangers visiting the city never fail to spend an hour at it, and do not cease, on their return home, to bewail the blindness which prevents every city in the country from having a like resort. Whenever a Chicago goes to an Eastern city, one of the invariable is, “I have never forgotten my visit to the Tivoli when I was in Chicago. What a charming place you have there!” Perhaps the best proof of its perfect success is the fact that its patrons have never found the slightest fault with either its viands, its beverages, or its service. Every change that has been made since its inauguration has been the thought of the proprietors, who are as zealous in maintaining its splendid reputation as they were sagacious in undertaking the enterprise. They have felt a pardonable pride in the Ladies’ Department, on which they have bestowed particular favor in the way of ornamental beauty. For a few days past they have kept it closed in order to give the frescoers and decorators ample opportunity to freshen its original attractiveness, and to add new appointments and finer ornamentation. A superb carpet, upon which the foot falls lightly as the snowflakes on the October heath, covers the floor. English and French artists have executed the noble paper work. Crystal chandeliers, which clink and glint in the hum of conversation, will throw a soft light over the chatting guests. Great mirrors repeat the beautiful sights around them. The upholstering and appointments are characterized by luxury and thoroughly fine taste, which does not revel in gaudy show but in grace of lines, harmony of tints, and exquisiteness of finish. Ladies, young and old, can avail themselves of these delightful apartments, with or without escort. Mothers may visit it with their children, relying upon the most courteous attendance and the kindest welcome. As a place for ladies’ luncheon it has, of course, no rival. An not the lease of its merits is the reasonableness of the prices. In every previous attempt at establishing a ladies’ luncheon down town guests were required to pay extravagant rates for very ordinary service; atb Tivoli the highest standard of cuisine exists, and the prices are, as the best ladies of the city have found out already, extremely moderate.
A beautiful soda fountain is one of the newest features of this department of the Tivoli, and the exhilarating draught, enriched by only pure juices of the favorite berries and fruits, will soon be in readiness.
Of course, the old popular features, the”Merchant’s Lunch,” “Board of Trade Lunch,” and “Swiss Dairy,” are continued. Ice cream, and all that tempts the palate, including every dainty luxury in its season, will be found at the Tivoli. The model manager and genial gentleman, Mr. E. H. Parker, amiable, alert, and omnipresent, will remain in charge, and be assisted by an augmented corps of trained and obliging waiters.
The opening was a success. Expressions of praise and admiration were heard on every side,—admirations of the Tivoli, and admiration of Chicago, the only city in two continents capable of the conception or the realization of so admirable a resort.
The Inter Ocean, May 20, 1878
While there is no lack of first-class restaurant accommodation in Chicago, there has always been a failure to meet the wants of a class who prefer privacy and refinement of a special dining or supper apartment to the publicity of the ordinary refreshment room. Of this class are families who desire to dine quietly together down town, business men who wish to discuss business secrets at their repast, and parties of ladies and gentlemen who wish to escape the noise and confusion necessarily incident to a large number of people dining together. They have enjoyed the elegant arrangements of New York’s Delmonico, and they wonder why Chicago cannot have a similar institution. To meet the wants of persons so inclined, the managers of the Tivoli Garden have, with their characteristic enterprise, fitted up the reception parlors and private supper rooms on the second floor of the Exchange building, over their present location. The reception parlors connect by a finely finished staircase with the ladies’ department, and the supper rooms are arranged on both sides of the stairway. In the way of furnishing and decorating the parlors and rooms, nothing has been left undone that could add to the attractiveness or convenience of the arrangements, and the exquisite taste displayed was the subject of flattering remarks by all the visitors at the opening of the rooms last week. It is unnecessary to say anything in commendation of the management of the Tivoli Garden, and the high character of the popular resort will be fully maintained. The reputation of the proprietors and Colonel Wilson, the widely known and very popula caterer, who is the exclusive manager of the Tivoli, is a sufficient guarantee that Chicago’s Delmonico will compare favorably with the New York institution, and be a credit to the city. We bespeak for it the continued liberal patronage of our leading citizens, which the Tivoli has always had, and predict abundant success.
The Inter Ocean, January 17, 1879
As the Tivoli has ceased to be a paying advertisement, its owners have decided to withdraw from the business, and the place will, therefore, be closed on the 1st of April. The room will be used for sporting headquarters under the control of Major Anderson, of Detroit. There will be a pool-room, bar, and reading-room. It will be the headquarters of the Jockey and Trotting Club.
The Inter Ocean, April 16, 1879
The once famous Tivoli Garden has seen its best days, and is about to be forgotten. To-morrow the furnishings, bar-fixture, aqnd restaurant accompaniments will be sold at auction, and the place will be finally closed. The intention of the parties who have rented the premises is to open a central billiard and pool-room, in which a specialty will be made of selling pools on all of the important summer sporting events.
The Inter Ocean, April 17, 1879
It was set down on the bills as “The grand sale,” was the Tivoli sale. The hour set for auctioning off the numerous beer mugs and free lunch platters and tables and chairs and counters and dishes and what-not, was 10 o’clock yesterday morning. The sale commenced at the hour named and continued until late in the afternoon. The cost of furnishing the Tivoli had been in the neighborhood of $6,000, although it was claimed that $8,000 was invested. The stuff, as a general thing, sold for about one-half of the original cost; there was, however, one exception to this. And perhaps that one exception was the ground on which was based the expression: “The grand sale.” The exception was this: A set of knives that cost $3 a year or two ago, sold for $3.25 yesterday. This is only proof of the fact that some people deem old, second-hand, worn-out things worth more than the new article. The Tivoli will hereafter be used as a sportsmen’s headquarters and pool-room.
Chicago Tribune, July 1, 1883
The action begun during the last week by the heirs of William S. Johnson to correct what is termed a clerical error in the will of the deceased, so that the property left by him may become more valuable than at present, brings to the fore the Exchange Building, at the corner of Washington and Clark streets, one of the most notable pieces of property in Chicago, and suggests a bit of history. The lot upon which the present structure stands is 182 feet front on Clark street and 107 feet on Washington street. Many years ago it was purchased by P. F. W. Peck for sum not now known, but insignificant when compare with the present appraised value. Upon it about twenty feet from each street was erected a church, which was used by a Presbyterian congregation until about 1862, when the spire was taken from it and it was leased to Mr. E. Brunswick, who converted it into the largest billiard-hall that Chicago had yet boasted of.
In 1864 Mr. Peck became anxious to lease the property including the church, for a term of years, and he advertised for bids. The highest bidder was Mr. W. K. Nixon, the well-known real estate dealer, and he was given a lease of the ground and church for a term of twenty years, at an annual rental of $13,248 for the first ten years, and revaluation at the end of that time and five years thereafter. Mr. Nixon immediately erected a block three stories and basement in height, constructed of brick with stone trimmings, and the church was turned into a public hall, and was known as Smith & Nixon’s Hall. In 1869 Mr. Nixon transferred the lease and sold the building to Mr. W. S. Johnson for $175,000. In 1871 the fire swepts the buildings away, leaving nothing but the bare lot. The ashes of the structure were scarcely cool when workmen were busy removing the debris, and the work of constructing the building, which is now scarcely an ornament, although it was useful at the time, was begun. No time was lost in completing the structure, and it was one of the first and largest buildings ready for occupancy after the fire. The stores and offices in it were rented promptly at a good figure, and the aggregate of the first year’s rent was between $60,000 and $65,000. Since that time the building has been well tenanted, and even now it brings in a gross income of nearly $50,000. The rent paid for the ground during the first fifteen years was on the basis of a valuation of $1,200 per front foot on Clark street, but the second revaluation placed the land at $1,500 per front foot, and the rent has therefore been advanced in proportion. The lease of the ground will expire May 1 next, and if at that time the building is not removed it will go to the Peck estate with the surrender of the lease. It is said that the building will be razed by next spring, and will be replaced by a fine office and business building. The present structure is growing somewhat rickety with age, it never having been very substantial, and it is hoped that wiyhin a few years it will be removed.
The Inter Ocean, May 2, 1884.
One of the most important and noteworthy movings was that which took place yesterday from the old Exchange Building, at the corner of Clark and Washington streets. The premises are occupied almost entirely as offices, and nearly forty tenants have moved out within the past few days, and the remainder, numbering twenty, will have gone by tomorrow evening.
Three months ago it was decided that the property should pass out of the hands of the Johnson estate, the lease having expired. The agents if the estate made a pretext out of the valuation of the building at $1,500, to pretend that it could hold over for another term of twenty years, but the effort was unavailing, and at noon yesterday the agent of the Park estate tendered $1,500 to the agent of the Johnson estate in payment of their claim. The amount was at once accepted. Joseph Dixon, ex-Warden of the County Hospital, was then placed in charge of the building, reinforced by three or four assistants. Mr. Kerfoot, president of the Opera House Company, assumed charge of the building during the afternoon. The work of dismantling the building was begun yesterday, and the work of removing the entire structure will be commenced in a few days.