Gage was a well regarded millinery wholesaler who had the
insight to advertise in magazines, and know a good location to set
up shop-well, sort of.
The business began before
the Chicago Fire in 1871. The fire destroyed their treasured
showcase of a store on Michigan Ave.
able to set up shop in a shanty in the scarred area, while some
other devastated businesses sought to work out of large mansions
outside of the area. There must have been quick thinking on the
part of the Gage Brothers to telegraph to order more stock while
the embers cooled. Since they were a large concern they already had
incoming stock by rail and by water, thus they would have things to
sell sooner than some others.
The devastation of
the area would lead one to think buying hats was low on the
priority list for many, but not enough were devastated to have that
affect. The rebuilding of Chicago is well chronicled and with the
growth of the city that was well underway before the fire, and the
new building craze there must have been money to be made for more
than the necessities.
Some businesses were
insured, as was theirs, but even with insurance life is never the
same. The building they moved into was of brick and even safer. But
not safe enough to withstand yet another major fire. The Chicago
Tribune article from Feb 8, 1902 tells of how this building and
another in the area also had a major fire, creating a manpower
challenge for the Chicago Fire Dept.
store was adjacent to another building owned by Trude, but that one
had only minor impact from the Gage fire. There was $222,000 of
loss between the two fires. The article did point out the need for
better fire services, with more money to be devoted in the Chicago
budget, not less as it seemed to indicate was under consideration.
Followup articles about the insurance carriers focuses on the need
for better protection. It is not hard to imagine their insurance
carriers wondering if it was worth covering a business with such
misfortune to be plagued by fire.
Happy 25th day of