Adams and Westlake Manufacturing Company
Life Span: 1872-1933/~1996 (319 W. Ontario St.)
Location: North Franklin street, fronting respectively on Ontario and Ohio streets, 319 Ontario Street.
Architect: Unknown, Furst & Rudolph additions, 1883
The Land Owner, November, 1872
THE WORKS OF MESSRS. CRERAR, ADAMS & CO., AND THE UNION BRASS MANUFACTURING CO.
On pages 188 and 189 will be seen our ilustration of the rebuilt factory of Messrs. Crerar, Adams & Co., and the Union Brass Manufacturing Company, located on North Franklin street, and fronting respectively on Ontario and Ohio streets. The former firm was established here in 1858, then as a branch of the well known firm of M. K. Jesup & Co., of New York. Several successive changes occurred in the name and style of house, yet it has retained the same elements—the junior members, becoming more prominent, the great parent house conceding to them the responsibilities and advantages of ther increasing business. The firm now comprises Messrs. John Crerar, J. MacGregor Adams, and J. Hall Dow. As Crerar, Adams & Co., they are still closely allied with the old house. Their trade consists in furnishing all the possible requirements coming under the head of Railroad Supplies, and they have, as our illustration will show, made a distinguishing prominence in the manufacturing interests of Chicago. The north-wing is occupied by them in the manufacture of head lights for locomotives and hand lanterns of all sizes and descriptions, in use on railroads. The highly ornamented lamps and carriage fittings used in the Pullman cars had their origin and birth in this establishment. The New England roads are large customers for this peculiar work. When the great Erie and the Pennsylvania Central want to turn out a car with extra finish, they take H.G.’s advice and “go West” to Chicago for lamps and trimmings. This enterprise alone gives employment to one hundred men, yielding an annual product of $200,000. The locomotive works East are also large customers for their products. They make a specialty of turntables, and the Mansfield patent elastic rail, together with the frogs and crossings. The gross business of this firm amounts to several millions annually, with an almost endless promise of extensions, as the building of Western roads is almost commenced. The lamp shops are under the charge of Mr. Geo. M. Clark.
Our Great Manufacturing Interests—Rebuilt Works of Messrs. Crerar, Adams & Co., and the Union Brass Manufacturing Co.
Note the walkway between the two buildings on the third floor.
The southern portion of this building is occupied by the Union Brass Manufacturing Company, in which the foregoing firm are largely interested. The officers are: J. Hall Sow, President; L.I. Todd, Vice President; C.A. Hitchcock, Superintendent; John G. Hoitt, Secretary and Treasurer. The Directors are: John Crerar, J. MacGregor Adams, J. Hall Dow, L.I. Todd, C.A. Hitchcock. The capital stock is $50,000, all paid up. This industry had its birth in a small establishment started in this city some fifteen or sixteen years ago, by L.I. Todd, eventually embodying itself in the present company, as will be seen by the list of officers and directors. Messrs. Crerar, Adams & Co. hold a large pecuniary interest in this establishment, and may be said to form one. The work executed by the Union Brass Manufacturing Company in locks alone has made a reputation sufficient to give prominence in the foremost ranks of the great manufacturing interests of the country. These joint buildings from 100 feet on Ohio, and 100 feet on Ontario street, and on Franklin 220 feet, with a dividing alley in the center. The building is constructed of plain brick, solid and substantial, four stories high. The rooms are lofty, well ventilated, heated by steam, and present a cheerful and neatly finished appearance. All the wood work is grained. On each floor are located water closets, washing and dining rooms, and everything that can possibly add to the comfort of the workmen, all of which is fully appreciated by the employees, who must possess more than ordinary skill to turn out the highly finished and artistic workmanship from these establishments. The arrangement of the benches and their construction displays a thorough knowledge of their requirements and demands. They are mounted on metal stands, and capped with hard oak plank in one solid piece, each furnished with a seoparate gas jet and tool box.
The chemical appliances for silver and nickel plating are well worthy of special attention. Steam elevators convey from one building to another the building required; in a word, all modern improvements and appliances have been exhausted to make it a model shop. The engine, furnished by Townsend & Jackson, of Albany, N.Y., of fifty horse power, supplies motive power for both shops, giving life to the numerous lathes and contrivances that furnish music to two hundred operatives.
Both manufactories have been built under the immediate supervision of Mr. L.I. Todd, a gentleman possessed of indomitable character, and one who has proved himself fully equal to the emergency occasioned by the fire. A visit to the works will repay the visitor. A pleasing episode in the reopening of these factories was a reunion of the operatives, to the number of five hundred, who sat down to a banquet, a glee club, formed from among the workmen, singing “Home again.” Perfect identity of interest exists between the employer and the employed. Too much praise cannot be bestowed on Mr. Dow and Mr. Todd for their liberal management of these institutions.
Adams & Westlake Manufacturing Co.
Headlights and Lanterns Catalogue
Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1875
CRERAR, ADAMS & CO.
Crerar, Adams & Co., the Union Brass Manufacturing Company, and the Adams & Westlake Manufacturing Company, form altogether an industrial building for three concerns are really one and the same. The two companies have been developed from different branches of the original business, and are wholly controlled by the firm of Crerar, Adams & Co., which represents the mercantile side of the industrial combination.
The Union Brass Manufacturing Company is located in a large and substantial building on the corner of Ohio and Franklin streets. The remainder of the block is occupied by the works of the Adams and Westlake Manufacturing Company.
When the firm of Crerar, Adams & Co. was founded, the manufacture of the thousand and one things needed in the construction of cars and locomotives were carried on exclusively in Rochester, Utica. Hartford, and other Eastern cities. This is no longer so. The catalogue of the Union Brass Company in 1875, an elegantly-printed volume of sixty-five large pages, is crammed with cuts of the different products of the Company. In the office is a show-case like those used in the finest jewelry stores. Its many shelves gleam wiyth beautiful bits of polished brass and silver and nickel plate.
Adams & Westlake Plant
Many factories under one roof, for different trades are carried on here, each one of which is usually considered an individual branch of business. Every variety of railway-car and trimmings is made. Locks and keys are produced. So are water-tanks and faucets. So are door-knobs. So is hardware for the household art. So are omnious-fittings. Fine castings in bronze, brass, and iron, for another department. Nickel-plating is another. Much of the fine counter-work of our banks in nickel-plate and decorated glass is domne here. The list might be almost indefinitely extended.
The Adams & Westlake Manufacturing Company was the banner shop of this section. The present building was ready for occupancy only about ten days ago, but the work-rooms are already full of operatives, and the store-rooms of burnished headlights, lanterns, tinware of every imaginable description, etc. A new headlight, a patented article, made only in these works, is a beautiful piece of mechanism. The lamp is lit by simply thrusting a match, held in a tiny brass rod, up from below. The match ignites just as it reaches the wick, and fires the latter wiyth unfailing regularity. Breathing through a little tube extinguishes the flame. Thus, in the most violent weather, the lamp can be lit and put out with absolute safety and great celerity.
The method of making tinware is one of great interest. A press of enormous power forces a die, shaped like the interior of the vessel to be made, upon a sheet of plate tin. The metal instantly closes around the die, and the pan, pail, bowl, or dish, as the case may be, is ready, after a little polishing, for the market.
One little item will give you an idea of the extent of the business. The Company makes and sells, every year, 100,000 stove-boards alone. The figures showing the number of smaller articles manufactured are very incomprehensible. The mind cannot grasp them. The mere patterns used in this branch of the business represent an investment of $25,000. They were rescued from the Great Fire and are kept in a salamander-like safe now.
Complete samples of the articles manufactured by these two companies are kept at the central store of this great industry. This is at the corner of Fifth avenue and South Water street, fronting on the street at Nos. 205 and 207, and running back half a block on the avenue. Here are piles of steel and tiles from the celebrated Krupp works, and William Jessup & Sons, for which Crerar, Adams & Co. are agents, iron nettings, great bales of “waste,” lanterns, headlights, spikes, nails, samples of rails, and a myriad of car and house-furnishings, which are perfect puzzles to the uninitiated eye. The firm supplies
Every necessary article for the construction, equipment, and operation of a railroad. Iron and steel rails, from various mills for which they are agents; iron flues, from Morris, Tasker & Co., of Philadelphia; spikes from the Tredagar Company, Richmond Va.; fish bars, bolts and nuts, iron and brass screws, from the American Screw Company, Providence; C.G. Hussey & Co; bar and sheet copper, Joseph Dixon’s crucibles. For all of these large producers, Messrs. Crerar, Adams & Co., are the regular accredited agents.
It furnishes all the interior fittings of the famous Pullman cars. A man leaving Chicago on a trip to the Mississippi is apt to sit in a seat sold by Crerar, Adams & Co. He puts his bundles into a baggage-rack from their store. He takes a drink of water from a tank they have furnished. He can, if he choses, read the Bible, which is held to the side of the car in a neatly-lettered box of their devising. The cord which enable him to signal the engineer, if need be, is held by hangers of their manufacture. The fixture of the berth in which he sleeps at night come from them. So do the fixtures of the curtains that protect him from view. So does the clasp that holds his ticket and enables the conductor to get it without waking him up. The locks of the car and closets, the frames of the mirrors, the ornamental work on the ceiling, the hooks and plates which hold in the table in which he plays cards, or puts his book, or has his dinner served,—these may all come from Crerar, Adams & Co. A plate from their works works reminds him that “passengers are not allowed to stand on platform,” and the red lantern that swings in the distance, saving the train from wreck, hails from the same place. The rails over which the car-wheels glide were very probably furnished by this firm, which sells rails from Chicago to San Francisco. When our traveller reaches his destination, he will very likely ride to a hotel in a street-car or omnibus equipped by this omnipresent house. If he while away the tedium of an evening in a strange town by a visit to the theater, the armed soldiers who strut among the stage may have just received their polished helmets and shields from the Union Brass Company. When he returns home, he passes through the same set of experiences, and very probably sits down to a home dinner tat was mainly cooked in vessels from the Adams & Westlake Company’s shops. It would be a shorter task to describe what articles used by our hypothetical traveler have not been furnished by Crerar, Adams & Co., than to select those that have been so supplied.
Chicago Tribune, December 9, 1883
Architects Furst & Rudolph have completed plans for a factory to be erected for J. McGregor Adams on Ontario near Market street, and to be occupied by the Adams & Westlake Manufacturing Company, which already has a large building at the corner of those streets. The new structure will be 75 by 100 feet in dimensions and six stories and basement high, and when complete will cost $50,000. The same architects will also construct for the Adams & Westlake Company an addition to the present building, five stories in height, to cost $15,000.
Adams & Westlake Catalog
Chicago Tribune, December 24, 1939
One of the city’s biggest modernization jobs in the commercial realty field is nearing completion on the north side of Ohio street, between Orleans and Franklin streets. This is part of the old Adams & Westlake plant, which originally occupied the entire block extending north to Orleans street.
Wilson A. Smith, president of the dams & Westlake company. which moved to Elkhart 11 years ago, a few months ago asked an appropriation of $150,000 to remodel the vacant Chicago units. Graham, Anderson, Probst & White were retained as architects.
Rent Before Completion.
The rent rate was set so that the income will carry the taxes and current building operating expenses, and amortize the greater part of the present investment during the next five years, it was said.
Almost half of the 163,000 square feet of floor space in the two seven story units were rented before completion of the alterations. Portis Brothers Hat company leased space.
The entire third floor in both units was leased by the Schultz Brothers company, chain store operators in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Harry Beeman, of Harold H. Egan & Co. was broker.
Install New Heat System.
The seventh floor in the east building has been leased to Hornstein Photo sales, thru C.H. Hartman & Co., brokers.
The present rehabilitation program includes a complete new heating system, wiring system for light and power, new front entrance, two new pawssenger and three new freight elevators, exterior and interior painting, and other improvements.
Chicago Tribune, September 18, 1933
Wreckers are at work tearing down the former general offices of the Adams & Westlake Co., railway supply concern, on Franklin street between between Ontario and Ohio streets. The structure, a four story brick building, bears in large figures the date “1872,” indicating it was erected almost immediately after the great fire. G.L. Walters, treasurer of the company at 319 West Ontario street, yesterday said the building is being torn down to save taxes. He added that the destruction of the building will give three months’ work to a number of men.
① Crerar, Adams & Co., (Adams and Westlake).
② Union Brass Company.
Adams & Westlake Plant
Sanborn Fire Map
Adams & Westlake Plant
Ross & Browne Real Estate Map