Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kohl & Middleton's Dime Museums, Chicago, Illinois

DIME MUSEUM HISTORY
Dime museums were institutions that were popular at the end of the 19th century in the United States. Designed as centers for entertainment and moral education for the working class (lowbrow), the museums were distinctly different from upper-middle class' cultural events (highbrow). In urban centers like New York City and Chicago, where many immigrants settled, dime museums were popular and cheap entertainment.

 

Dime Museums were one of the lowest rungs on the showbiz ladder, sometimes not much more than a storefront with a mix of sideshow acts, macabre curios, and freaks. But it was where a hungry performer could always find work, and Harry Houdini would return to Dime Museums so many times that he earned the nickname, "Dime Museum Harry." The social trend reached its peak during the Progressive era (ca. 1890–1920).



KOHL & MIDDLETON'S DIME MUSEUMS
Reminiscences of George Middleton as told to, and written by, his wife.


In coming down from the northwest in 1882, C. E. Kohl and I decided there was an opening in Chicago for a dime museum, so we formed a co-partnership and I went on to Chicago to look up a location, which I found at 150 West Madison Street, just east of Halsted. It was an instantaneous success, and we kept in operation a great many years.

The next year we opened one at 150 S. Clark Street, near Madison (now 10 South Clark Street), and at 150, 152 and 154 W. Madison, opposite Union street, which were also very successful.

 

During the 1893 Chicago World's Fair we opened another one at 294 State Street, which was also a success. We also established them in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Cleveland. All except Cleveland paid handsomely, which was our only failure in the dime museum business.

It was a strange business, and for a few years the dime was something new for the price of admission to a place of amusement. Thousands and thousands of people would pass along and say, "Oh, let's go in for fun;" but as years went by those same people became critics and would not spend their dime nor their time unless the show was considered worth it.


The dime museum business, with its curiosities, its stage performance and its music, led to the continuous vaudeville of the theatres; then came the ten, twenty and thirty cent performance, the people all the time demanding better shows, for which they were willing to pay, until finally it has reached the high class vaudeville of today, in which higher salaries are paid than in any other class of amusement, excepting grand opera. 

So what does this enterprising duo have to do with the Columbian Exposition? The Fair and the popular Midway closed at the end of October. But, the men just didn't want to see it end! So, by November 12th they had put together a gigantic show reproducing the "Old Midway," just in case there was anyone left in Chicago who had not visited the original. Rrrrrright here on our stage! The Columbian Exposition! 

H. N. Bruns Florist, 1409 W Madison (now 3049 W Madison), Garfield Park, Chicago. 1907

H. N. Bruns Florist, 1409 W Madison (now 3049 W Madison), Garfield Park, Chicago. 1907

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lambs Farms, Libertyville, Illinois

In 1961, Bob Terese and Corinne Owen opened a small pet shop on Chicago’s State Street. It was like every other small business with one exception; the 12 employees had developmental disabilities.

The store was the embodiment of Bob and Corinne’s belief that those with developmental disabilities deserved to lead productive and fulfilling lives, which included meaningful employment. When they opened the store’s doors for the first time, they planted the seeds of an idea that grew into the exemplary organization where adults with developmental disabilities continue to thrive today.

During the State Street years, The Lambs received support and growing recognition for its mission from the Chicago community at large. Individual donors, as well as corporate and foundation supporters, heralded the work of Bob and Corinne, recognizing that the Lambs Pet Shop was not only providing employment opportunities and a sense of community for Participants, but was becoming a model program as well.

Bolstered by this support, Bob and Corinne expanded their vision in 1965, relocating 35 miles north to Libertyville, Illinois, when noted philanthropist W. Clement Stone purchased and ultimately donated a 70-acre farm.
With the help of family members and donors, they turned a restored, century-old barn into one of the area’s largest pet stores and used the additional space to create new businesses and bring more adults with developmental disabilities into the program. 


Today, Lambs Farm makes a difference in the lives of nearly 250 Participants and welcomes thousands of visitors every year. Located just off I-94 and Route 176 near Libertyville, it’s a special place where adults with developmental disabilities create lives of their own.
It’s a place where our participants are safe and empowered to choose the working and living environments that best suit them, decide how to spend their free time and learn new skills and hobbies. It’s a place where volunteers – individuals, groups and corporations – make a difference in the lives of hundreds of people every year. It is a community where families can come to teach their children about people with disabilities. 


Lambs Farm is about helping people and helping people help themselves. It is about self-reliance, hard work and a nurturing environment, all working together to cultivate human fulfillment. Simply put, Lambs Farm is a place where people grow.
 
Your visit isn't complete with out you helping support Lambs Farm by purchasing at the Cedar Chest Thrift Shop, Sugar Maple Country Store, and having a fantastic meal at the Magnolia Cafe & Bakery with the best service this side of the Mississippi. What a great time for all.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Auditorium Building, Chicago, IL., under construction (1888)

The Auditorium Building in Chicago is one of the best-known designs of Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler.
Completed in 1889, the building is located at the northwest corner of South Michigan Avenue and Congress Street (now Congress Parkway). The building, which when constructed was the largest in the United States and the tallest in Chicago, was designed to be a multi-use complex, including offices, a theater and a hotel. As a young apprentice, Frank Lloyd Wright worked on some of the interior design.

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 17, 1970. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975, and was designated a Chicago Landmark on September 15, 1976. In addition, it is a historic district contributing property for the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District. Since 1947, the Auditorium Building has been part of Roosevelt University.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chicago's "I Will" Motto and "Y" Municipal Device History.

The figure depicted, and the words “I Will”, represent a rival or alternative to Chicago’s official motto “Urbs in Horto” (City in a Garden), which was adopted in 1837. 

The figure and slogan were dreamed up by Chicago artist Charles Holloway, who was the first-place winner in an 1891 contest sponsored by The Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper. The contest seems to have been inspired by the city’s zealous preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair although it apparently wasn’t sponsored by the Fair itself. 

The Inter Ocean challenged artists to come up with “a figure typical of Chicago’s spirit” to represent the city – sort of like an Uncle Sam or John Bull for Chicago. They enlisted a panel of judges that included famed cartoonist Thomas Nast and the president of the Fair’s board of lady managers, Bertha Palmer. She and her husband Potter were a famed power couple in Chicago.

Some three hundred artists submitted entries, and Holloway’s entry of a goddess figure suited for battle came out on top. Reflecting her defiant attitude, she wore a breastplate that read "I Will." With her crown depicting a phoenix rising from the flames, she also seems to symbolize the resolve of Chicago to rise from the ashes of the Chicago Fire, which destroyed much of the city just 20 years before the Inter Ocean contest. For his inspired creation, Holloway was awarded $200!

Although she wasn’t the official symbol of the 1893 Fair, the Inter Ocean did use her image to represent the Fair. Her image, and the motto, also became a success after the fair.

A few years later in 1910, a series of postcards featuring Chicago scenes was issued with the “I Will” motto in the corner of each.
Courtesy of the Chicago Postcard Museum
And the World’s Fair of 1933 used her image extensively to beckon people to come to the fair. Commemorative spoons featuring the “I Will” woman seem to be an especially popular item.

The “I Will” motto enjoyed a resurgence in popularity during the ‘60s and ‘70s – one item we found was a whiskey decanter featuring Chicago landmarks topped with the “I Will” motto.  Another example many people will remember is a stylized “C” logo with four stars and the inscription “I Will – the Spirit of Chicago” on the 2600 series of “L” cars, some of which were in service into the early 2000s.

Sculptor Ellsworth Kelly also picked up on the motto.  He said his 1981 minimalist sculpture located at the northernmost extent of the fire in Lincoln Park, is dedicated to the “I Will” spirit of the city.  It’s along Fullerton Avenue north of Lincoln Park Zoo.

Chicago's Municipal Device; the “Y”-symbol.

Designed by Danish-born A.J. Roewad, the emblem resulted from an 1892 Chicago Tribune contest that sought an image typical of the city in anticipation of the World’s Columbian Exposition. 
The “Y”-symbol, which represents the three branches of the river as they come together at Wolf Point and separate the north, south and west sides of Chicago, can be found on structures and buildings all across the city. While prominent on many municipal buildings and street lighting boxes, it can also often be found interestingly hidden in the facades of older commercial and industrial buildings across the city.

Some information from WTTW (wttw.com)