Carson, Pirie & Co.
Life Span: 1873-1904
Location: 215 Madison at Franklin Streets and 236 Madison at Peoria Street and 170 N. Clark at Erie Street
Chicago Tribune, March 10, 1872
Carson, Pirie & Co. have resumed the wholesale dry goods trade in a three-story brick building co the south side of Madison, near Franklin street.
Chicago Evening Mail, May 3, 1873
The large number of new stores opened by Chicago firms this spring is an unprecedented fact in the history of this or any other city.
The splendid lines of new and costly buildings on the southeastern streets are a credit to this metropolis of the West. The resident ad visitor finds every branch of trade exhibiting under the most favorable circumstances its respective specimens of industrial products.
Of course prices will always be in some correspondence with the expenses of the market in which the goods are for sale. Hence, the costly rents of our new streets must be paid by the customers who purchase from the tenants,
The large and populous district lying between the river and the city’s western limits, and bounded by Kinzie and Twelfth streets, has enjoyed the advantages of the temporary location on West Madison street of many stores, now removed or removing nearer to the lake. Scores of windows contain notices of removal eastward.
One firm has not joined in the exodus, but has chosen a new and spacious location in the West, where it means to out rival all competitors. On Tuesday Messrs. Carson, Pire & Co. enter upon their new premises at the corner of Madison and Peoria streets, where they will have ample room to display one of the finest stocks of dry goods ever seen in the Western States. The large share of public patronage received by them at their store opp site Aberdeen street has led to the wise resolve not to desert their West End customers, but on the contrary to give them more advantages and accommodation.
The stock carried by this house is certainly first-class in quality and most extensive in variety. The great difference in expenses in favor of the Western portion of the city will enable them fairly to sell at prices far below what would be remunerative or possible on the Southeast Side. The public spirit and business tact of the firm will be duly appreciated by ladies who know how good it is to save some dollars on each dress purchased and a proportionate percentage on the smallest article of wear. Each department will be in the care of competent assistants, and the whole store under the present business manager, Mr. McLeish, whose long experience in the trade is a great advantage to the establishment and its patrons.
The wholesale headquarters of the firm so well known to all town and country buyers is a grand reservoir from which the West end retail branch is always amply supplied with the latest novelties found in the New York and European markets, where Messrs. Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co have representatives constantly buying for their Chicago stores.
It is easy to prophesy that the shrewdness of the firm in fitting out the only large first-class dry gods store on the West Side will prove to be a very profitable undertaking. It is more than profitable that while it will save many a journey southward, it will save many a customer westward to purchase the best styles and fabrics at prices impossible to be named east of Madison street bridge. From a spool of cotton to a Lyonaise velvet dress, every article can be found here at popular prices. The ladies may indeed be congratulated upon the preparations made for their pleasure, profit, and convenience.
Chicago Evening Mail, May 24, 1873
The Cheapest Gloves.
If in anything, certainly in gloves the best are the cheapest. Carson, Pirie & Co. are offering three thousand pairs of best quality, all sizes and colors, at only one dollar per pair. This department is very well and attentively managed by the assistants, who are especially adapted to make it popular on the West Side. In truth South Side residents will save their fare by the reduction in price.
Chicago Evening Post, December 6, 1873
Carson, Pirie & Co. think it will pay to buy goods on the West Side, and so do West Side ladies, judging from the number of customers that daily crowd their handsome store on the corner of Peoria and Madison streets. As their rents are cheap there, they can afford to sell their goods cheap, and this is what their customers like.
Chicago Tribune, August 15, 1875
CARSON, PIRIE, SCOTT & CO.
The wholesale trade of Chicago has many extensive and prominent establishment, bat none more favorably known throughout the entire Northwest than Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. This fine establishment is located on Madison and Franklin streets, and contains within its colossal proportion every article kaon so the wholesale dry-goods trade.
The fine retail establishment on West Madison and Peoria streets is also owned by this firm. This latter concern is one of the most popular trading resorts in the city, and attracts a large share of the best custom of Chicago, by its magnificent display and elegance of stock, The Tribune knows of no concern that has done more for the wholesale and retail trade of Chicago than Caron, Pirie, Scott & Co.
Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1877
GOOD NEWS FOR THE NORTH SIDE.
The ladies of the North Side will be delighted to hear that Messrs. Carson, Pirie & Co. have cased the beautiful store room lately occupied by Schoenfeld Bros., and will soon open it with a large and elegant stock of goods. The room will be enlarged and otherwise improved. A first-class dry goods establishment has been one of the long-felt wants of the North Side, which this movement will supply. Having shown the West Side people that “it pays to trade on the West Side,” Messrs. Carson, Pirie & Co. now propose to demonstrate to the North Siders that it will pay in the same way to trade on the North Side.
Chicago’s First Half Century, Inter Ocean Publishing Company, 1883
CARSON, PIRIE, SCOTT & CO.
We present our readers on this page with a cut, below, of the large wholesale dry goods house of Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., Madison and Franklin streets. This firm is well and favorably known throughout the entire West as honorable, reliable, enterprising, and energetic merchants. There are few if any houses in this country or Europe who carry so large and well assorted stocks in every department as they do. In looking through their numerous departments this week we found them quyite busy opening new importations in laces, embroideries, hosiery, linens, white goods, etc. As they purchase these goods in large quantities, for cash from manufacturers, buyers can rely on getting the best values from them to be had anywhere in this country.
Chicago Tribune, August 7, 1887
It is said that Carson, Pirie & Scott are trying to get control of the Parmalee property on Fifth avenue for a big store.
Inter Ocean, March 15, 1888
CARSON, PIRIE & CO.’S OPENING.
For some time the ladies of Chicago hare not been treated to a bona fide opening; in fact, not all the winter has there been a new store opened, until yesterday, when Carson, Pirie & Co. threw open the doors of their handsome new home at the northeast corner of Wabash avenue and Adams street. The ladies fairly reveled in the absolute newness of everything, from the front door to the back part of the second floor. Everything was bright, new, and fresh, and if a reward had been offered, for some old-style affair or pattern, it could not have been paid, because that is about the only order for the new establishment could not fill. The store, as everybody knows, is the one where Gage & Co. departed this life and it is admirably suited to the needs of the business. It was built with the idea of stability for the wholesale trade, and, of course, is more than substantial enough for the retail stocks. The aisles are wide, which every lady will consider a grand blessing. There is plenty of room to show goods and to pass through without being crushed. The firm occupy the basement, first and second floors, and the goods are allotted as follows:
- In the basement are the domestics and heavy drygoods; on the first floor are the dress goods, drygoods, fancy goods, boots and shoes, hosiery, gloves, notions and such like articles; on the second floor are white goods, underwear, suits, cloaks, shawls, millinery and upholstery. The display is every department was attractive from the vast amount of new patterns and designs in everything. The spring and summer goods were shown in abundance and made one feel cheerful in spite of the long-drawn winter which continues to linger. The ladies came into the store all day in droves and swarms and feasted upon the bright things shown, for the spring and summer of 1888.
Mr. Andrew McLeish, of the firm, stood smiling by the door welcoming the thousands of ladies who came to see the store. Mr. C. H. Constant was kept busy looking after the smooth working of the establishment. The grand staircase that leads up to the second floor was crowded with visitors trooping up and down all day long. Every showcase where there was something new in a clonk or dress was constantly surrounded with a bevy of ladies, who admired and took ample notes of the cut and style in every detail. In the millinery department the new shapes and patterns of spring bonnets and hats were greatly admired. The new establishment opens with the most positive success, and will be te beginning of a new era for Wabash avenue.
Chicago Tribune, February 19, 1890
LEASE OF STATE STREET PROPERTY.
Gossage & Co. Pay a Large Sam for a Small Space-Other Transactions.
The lease of the store at the southwest corner of State and Washington streets, by which it is to become a part of the Gossage establishment, adds another to the list of State street leases that have been made at astonishing prices within a few days. The corner is fifty-six feet on State street and eighty-five feet on Washington. W. E. Hale is the lessor. The lease is for ten years. The terms are not made public, but it is understood that they are 830,000 annual rental. The lease conveys the frst floor, basement, and entresol.
The structure is to be almost entirely rebuilt. The novel plan will be tried of rebuilding the lower stories while the upper ones are left untouched. The reason for this is that, while the present lease of the first floor expires May 1, leases of the upper floors have a longer time to run. The building will be reconstructed on most elaborate designs. The first floor will as far as possible be thrown into connection with the first floor of the present Gossage store. This change, in connection with other alterations recently arranged for, will make the floor space of the Gossage establishment one of the largest in the country.
The two stores fronting on Washington street and adjoining the present store on the west have been leased from Mr. Leiter, and will be remodeled and thrown into connection with the present store. This will give a frontage of 120 feet on State street, 205 feet on Washington street, with a portion of the Washington street frontage extending back 184 feet.
The price at which the corner was rented is probably the highest ever paid in Chicago for so small a space. At $30,000 a year the rental is only &6.82 per square foot.
This would make the property worth on a 5 per cent basis $600,000, or $10,714 a front foot, not counting the income from everything above the entresol, which will reach a large sum. The lessees admit that it is a price that no one could hope to pay from the profits of sales within the space leased, out what gives the added space its value is the increased value given to all the other floors by the addition of this corner. The work of reconstructing the corner corner building and the Leiter buildings will begin immediately after May 1.
Inter Ocean, July 16, 1890
LARGE BUILDINGS LEASED.
Selz, Schwab & Co. are now the occupants of the five-story stone building on the corner of Franklin and Adams streets, owned by the Armour estate. Not long ago Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. rented the entire building, including the corner occupied by Clement, Bane & Co.,
wholesale clothing house. A short time after the date of the lease executed to Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., Selz, Schwab & Co. took out a permit to construct a twelve-story building on the corner of Van Buren and Franklin streets. Since then they have abandoned the idea, on the ground that the location is outside of the business district, being too far south. So Selz, Schwab & Co. have leased for a period of five years the old Farwell building, on the northwest corner of Market and Monroe streets, now occupied by Greensfelder, Florscheim Co., the consideration being $80,000 for the term of five years.
Chicago Tribune, March 17, 1893
WILL HAVE THE ENTIRE BLOCK FRONT.
Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. Extend Their Wholesale Quarters-Other Leases.
It is rumored that Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. have arranged to extend their wholesale quarters at the northwest corner of Adams and Franklin streets. This firm now occupies the corner, with a frontage of 140 feet on Adams street and 189 feet on Franklin street, under a ten-years’ lease from the George Armour estate at $55,000 a year. The corner of Monroe and Franklin streets, just across the alley to the north, is now occupied by Kuppenheimer & Co. It fronts 189 feet on Franklin street and 50 feet on Monroe and is owned by the Hovey estate. The present lease expires next January and Kuppenheimer will remove to the Boddie Building. Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. have leased this block for a long term and so have secured the entire east front on Franklin street between Adams and Monroe streets.
It is also reported that they contemplate adding to their Adams street frontage and have secured an option of lease on the fifty-foot building adjoining the corner, now occupied by Keith Bros. The negotiation of the two leases will give the dry goods firm something like 45,000 feet of ground floor space.
Inter Ocean, March 3, 1894
New Building on State Street.
A handsome and imposing structure is to be erected at the southwest corner of State and Washington streets which will materially add to the Architectural beauty of that thoroughfare. The new building will be fifty-five feet on State street and eighty-five on Washington street, and will be fourteen stories high. W. E. Hale is the owner of the building, and the plans for the new structure have been made by D. H. Burnham & Co., the well-known architects. In the spring of 1890 the foundations and first and second stories were put in and are now occupied by Carson, Pirie & Co. This work cost about $200,000 and was accomplished without disturbing the upoper stories of the present building. The plan now is to take down all of the building above the second floor and to erect thereon a handsome modern equipped office building, fourteen stories in height, without disturbing the tenants in the two lower stories or interfering with their business. The new building will be of steel construction after the style of the Great Northern Hotel and Masonic Temple and the exterior will be entirely of terra cotta and glass. There will be large double bay windows on Washington street extending to the roof. The design is beautiful and imposing, and the terra-cotta work will be ornamented to an elaborate degree. The interior finishing will be most artistic, the halls will be handsomely frescoed, the floors will be of mosaic, and the wainscoting of various colored marbles, highly polished. All of the interior woodwork will be of mahogany, and the entire building will be elaborately and tastefully decorated. Four large elevators will be placed in the building, and the several floors will be so arranged that they may be divided and finished to suit the requirement of the prospective tenants. The cost of the new building will be $300,000, making the cost of the entire structure a half million dollars. Work will be commenced about May 1, and the building will be finished and ready for occupancy by Jan. 1, 1895. When completed it will be one of the handsomest structures on State street and will naturally add to the value of the surrounding properties.
A 1904 John T. McCutcheon illustration showing Mr. Selfridge carving up the Schlesinger and Meyer department store and serving to the partnership of Messrs. Carson, Pirie, Scott and another dozen gentlemen.
Chicago Tribune, August 12, 1904
After a day of exciting negotiations and sensational rumors, announcement was made late yesterday afternoon of the sale of the entire business of H. G. Selfridge & Co., including leaseholds and building at State and Madison streets to the firm of Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. The estimated price was for $3,515,000 paid by Mr. Selfridge less than three months ago, and a bonus.
The news was coupled with the statement that Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. in turn had sold to Hillman’s the unexpired term from Jan. 1, 1905, of their lease on the Leiter property, State and Washington streets.
Will Take Possession Today.
Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. will take possession of the store of H. G. Selfridge & Co. today. The firm did not relinquish its present store, however, until the time named in the contract with Hillman’s/ Even after Jan. 1 the space in the Reliance building still will be controlled by the firm, although the general belief yesterday was that the lease would not be retained.
Almost to the hour when the formal statement of the double transaction was made rumor named another large State street establishment as a party to the negotiations in the place of H. G. Selfridge & Co. After the papers were signed, however, neither firm would say any different plans had been under consideration.
Exact Consideration Withheld.
The exact amount of money passed between the two giant bargainers was not divulged. Mr. Selfridge, however, said he received a bonus over the sum he paid Schlesinger & Mayer on May 14 for the same property.
Mr. Selfridge paid Schlesinger & Mayer $5,000,000 for the business plant. Almost immediately, however, he sold the building and leaseholds to Otto Young at the published price of $1,485,000. The difference between these figures, $3,515,000, remained as the value of the dry goods store, which now has been transferred to Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co.
Mr. Selfridge Has No Plans.2
The amount of the bonus received by Mr. Selfridge was estimated at from $200,000 to $500,000. It was conceded that he had made a lucrative speculation, provided he no longer wished to operate a dry goods store independently. On this latter point Mr. Selfridge declined to enlighten the public.
Street gossip asserted with considerable emphasis that Mr. Selfridge would return to his former association with Marshall Field, but when the rumor was taken to him sand he was asked if he would affirm or deny it he contented himself with the response:
- I have no definite plans.
A report that Mr. Selfridge would associate himself with Otto Young and the Fair was denied.
Deal Comes as a Surprise.
Mercantile and financial circles were astonished at the sale, coming as it did so soon after the launching of the firm H. G. Selfridge & Co.
Explanatory events, however, quickly were dragged out of the past. It was recalled that Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. was looked upon as a perspective purchaser of the business of Schlesinger & Mayer before the name of Mr. Selfridge was mentioned, and that circumstantial gossip once declared that the papers for the sale had been drawn up and that a hitch at the last moment prevented the signatures being affixed.
The enforced transfer, owing to expiring leases, of the retail store of Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. from its present to some other site was conceded to be the motive force at the bottom of the negotiations.
The brief, formal statement of the firm follows:
- On entering upon the fiftieth anniversary of our business career we are happy to announce our occupancy of the beautiful new twelve story building corner State and Madison streets. We will there be able far more satisfactorily to serve our patrons than we ever have been before, in one of the best equipped stores in the world, with a new and attractive stock of merchandise, second to none.
Mr. Selfridge Gives Explanation.
This was Mr. Selfridge’s statement:
- There is not much to say. Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. offered me a large bonus over and above what I paid for the business about eight weeks ago and I have taken it. After I bought the business of Schlesinger & Mayer, Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. opened negotiations with me with references to purchasing it. I was not at all desirous of selling, for during the short time I had it splendid progress was shown in every direction and in every department.
The immediate profit which I received equals that which my estimates spread over a long period, and at the risk of seeming to make a sensational move I decided to accept it. I shall for a moment take a good play spell.
Comment by Edward Hillman.
Comment upon the sale of the Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. leasehold to Hillman’s was made by Edward Hillman. He said:
- After a career of five and one-half years in quarters that, almost from the first day, were entirely inadequate to the volume of our business, we are pleased to announce the acquisition of the leasehold and fixtures of Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. These premises, which we will occupy Jan. 1 in connection with our present store, will enable us to proceed with long delayed plans for enlarging and broadening the scope of business.
The negotiations between Hillman’s and Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. were conducted by Fetzer, Peters, *=& Co. and Albert L. Strauss.
Under the lease by Otto Young to Selfridge & Co., following the sale by the latter to Mr. Young of the building and leasehold interest, Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co will pay an annual rental of $196,000 for thirty years from July 1, 1905. Until that time they will pay $7,000 a month. The ground is owned by Marshall Field.
The lease provides for an annual ground rent of $112,000, which, on a 4 per cent basis, indicates a value of $2,800,000. This is the largest ground rental for which a contract has ever been entered into in Chicago.
Inter Ocean, September 18, 1904
Tomorrow morning will bring another change in the business life of State street When Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. take possession of the Schlesinger & Mayer building at the southeast corner of State and Madison streets.
All of their retail business for the future will be conducted there, while the enormous wholesale business of the firm is being carried on from a recently purchased property at the corner of Franklin and Adams streets.
Until the first of next year the store at Washington and State streets will. be conducted also under the firm name of Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co.
The circumstances, conditions, and plans appertaining to this removal make it an event of Importance in the mercantile history of Chicago.
Firm Identified with Chicago History.
And so closely allied is the history of that firm with the history of Chicago’s progress as to be a part of It.
The principals of the old firm, Samuel Carton, now dead, and John T. Pirie, came to Chicago from Amboy, Ill., fifty years ago. Their wholesale house was then (1864) established at the northeast corner of Franklin and Madison streets. George Scott and William McLeish of Chicago then became members of the firm, and the wholesale house was moved into Lake street, where a retail business was opened on the same ground.
Not until after the fire was the store at 329 West Madison street opened. And the next change, to the corner of Madison and Peoria streets, was a move that proved to be a location for twenty years. The store was known in that time as the West End Dry Goods store.
Twenty years is not so long ago as to have allowed Chicagoans to forget the importance of Carson, Pirie & Co.’s having bought from Charles Gossage & Co, the State street store that the former are now vacating. The West End Dry Goods store was cosmopolitan enough in nomenclature for Chicago then, and so well was it thought of that the West Side store was depleted for another and a larger one at the corner of Wabash avenue and Adams street under the same name.
The consolidation came about in 1890, when both stores were merged—the one at Washington and State streets—and the name was then changed to Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co.
Manager Talks of Plans.
J. H. Wood, general manager, as he answered the telephone, called an office boy, and talked to two clerks and three waiting strangers all at once. Mr. Wood was the busiest man in town, said yesterday:
- A store always is measured by the satisfaction it yields to its customers.
For the inauguration of our plans in the new location, we have made comprehensive preparation on a thorough and consistent plan to provide the best in every grade of merchandise and the best possible store service. We shall present Monday morning a series of merchandise values that will, we believe, surprise and gratify all comers; shall present a thoroughly stocked and equipped mercantile Institution that will, we are sure, appeal not only to all of our old friends, but to those of H. G. Selfridge & Co., our predecessor at State and Madison streets; to the friends of Schlesinger & Mayer, who occupied the corner so many years, and to all discriminating shoppers in Chicago and vicinity.
Carson, Pirie & Co. West Side Store
236 W. Madison
Robinson Fire Insurance Map
Carson, Pirie & Co. North Side Store
170 W. Erie
Robinson Fire Insurance Map
Carson, Pirie & Co. South Side Store
Robinson Fire Insurance Map
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