FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Pearlie Powell Shop April 3, 2017

On June 5, 1917 Clarence Powell submitted and was rejected from the draft for World War 1; rejected because of his feet. Listed as single and a department manager for Mandel Bros department store, he otherwise would have likely gone off and perhaps never returned.

In 1920 Clarence A. Powell, 30 years old, was an import buyer for the highly regarded Mandel Bros store in Chicago. He applied for a passport to go abroad to buy for the store, but he had no birth certificate from his Milwaukee, WI birth in 1890 and had to provide substantial written testimony to this. His friend of over a decade, Mr. Miller, the manager of imports for the store, provided his testimony. Mr. Miller had known Clarence’s father, William, as well, for about 25 years, which was when Charles would have still been in short pants. The 1920 census has Clarence single and living at home with his parents. His father was an advertising manager of a department store, and Clarence was a buyer. They lived at 4949 S. Lake Park Ave.

The passport application was approved, and Clarence returned from his first trip abroad Sept 6, 1920.

In 1921, after Clarence father had passed away, Clarence applied to the Sons of the American Revolution. He documented his heritage back to his great great great great great grandfather, Peter Powell who had served as a private in the American Revolution in PA. Clarence sailed again in August for another buying trip in 1921.

Something fun must have been happening after the difficult year of 1921. Somewhere along the way he met a gal in Chicago, Pearlie. No records of their marriage, nor her youth were located. She was a bit of a pleasant mystery. One who had an eye for fashion and the Clarence left Mandel’s to open a high end shop in her name. He had the buying expertise, she had… Good taste?

Good taste also meant a need to search the continent for the best their money could buy. Pearlie took off for France.

Pearle Powell sailed home alone in Feb 1925 from Cherbourg, France, on the Berengaria, Her residence is listed as the Lake Shore Hotel. The birth date is given as Feb 10, 1891. Tho she may have been alone, with her husband not traveling, the rest of the passengers would have been a treat. Beckie Blum 32, from 5120 High Park Blvd, and Ida Winer, 39, from 5341 High Park Blvd, would have been worth getting to know. Blum’s fashion shop had opened in 1924, and advertised their high end fashions in the Tribune. In time it became known as Blum’s Vogue.

digitalcollection.chicagohistory.org hisotry museum galanos dress from Blum

Even in 1960 ‘Becky’ Blum reminisced about her early support of a then well acknowledged designer, James Galanos. http://digitalcollection.chicagohistory.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16029coll3/id/2442/rec/1

Also returning was Robert McCormick, 44 of 80 E Elm in Chicago, tho he may not have had fashion on his mind, but instead upon his newspaper, as editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Robert presented his own mystery, as he was alone without his wife Amy, 57, whom he married in 1915, after much in the way of public scandal.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_R._McCormick

From New York was Nettie Rosentstein, 33,residing at 44 56th St, New York, and last but NOT LEAST, Hattie Carneige, 38, of 780 38th St, NY, a fashion force to be reckoned with.

On August 19, 1925 Pearlie and Clarence sailed back from France together on the Olympic, but no obvious fashion names appeared on the passenger lists. They had been on the manifest to depart on Aug 15 on the Berengaria, but did not embark.

In 1927 Pearlie and Clarence return Feb 22 from France, and are listed as living at 320 N. Michigan Ave. Presently this address is the Comfort Suites Hotel, having originally been built in 1888. The building is on the west side of the street, just a few doors south of Wacker Drive and the Chicago River. This made the opening of the bridge in 1920 and the development of the shopping area known now as the Magnificent Mile a very attractive place for an elegant fashion shop. Not moving up to the north Michigan Avenue hot spot may have proved a mistake. Again on board this ship were a couple of fashion names, successful in their careers as well; Nettie Rosenstein and Hattie Carnegie. “In 1925, Carnegie was successful enough to buy a building just off Park Avenue at 42 East 49th Street.[5] By 1929, the business has sales of $3.5 million a year.[3] When spending decreased during the Great Depression, Carnegie created a less expensive line called Spectator Sports.[2]”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hattie_Carnegie

In Aug 1928 Clarence and Pearlie returned to Chicago, now with an address of 1209 Astor St. Chicago.

On the passenger list of Feb 1929 one finds Clarence and Pearle, born in Chicago in 1891, listed as residing at 320 N. Michigan Ave in Chicago. They had arrived on the Aquitania from Cherbourg France. There was only one other woman, Bertha Nikodem, from Chicago who boarded there, who resided at the Congress Hotel. One wonders if they met and enticed a new customer.

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In the 1929 Chicago Tribune online archives of the newspaper one finds ads for Pearlie Powell fashion shop, and twice a year they indicate Mr. and Mrs. Powell have returned from buying trips abroad for the shop. Customers were tantalized by seeing the latest Paris creations, and having a chance to purchase from a long time fashion forward couple.

The 1930 census has Clarence Powell, 40 and Pearlie Powell, 39, living at 1209 N. Astor, with their 42 year old German maid. They are listed as retailers of women’s wear. This address was elite, having been built in 1926. A current property listing is for this unit, under contract, for over $3million.https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1209-N-Astor-St-Chicago-IL-60610/2137675499_zpid/
The Powells were paying $450/month in rent, while others in the building went from $275 to only one which went for more than theirs. This was likely the penthouse for Mr. Robert White, a president of a real estate company, and family, for $585/month. That name may not be familiar, but many Chicagoans would recognize another neighbor who lived with his daughter and her family, Maurice L. Rothschild. It is likely this is one and the same as the store by that name. Rothschilds was a men’s and women’s-wear store in Chicago. It had opened in 1906. In 1931, while the depression progressed, Rothschild’s was adding three floors to their building on State Street. In a Tribune article, placing his worth at $15million, he claimed 70% of his advertising was in the Tribune the year before. No wonder they wrote about him!

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It is clear from this ad in the Chicago Tribune March 16, 1930 that the class of client the Powells desired were the most elite. The plan for this expansion was probably well under way before the stock market crash of Oct, 1929. This was a risky enterprise.

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It seems the worst had come. When the Depression caused even the wealthy to cease expensive fashion spending, retailers on narrow margins could not keep up. To give 2/3 off on elegant fashions must have broken their hearts, as well as their business.

The only other ads seen in 1931 were for $5 hats. Hopefully hats could ease the pain.

There are no further records of this couple in anything on Ancestry.com. They are not in the 1940 census in Chicago, and there are no death records. It is like they disappeared off the face of the earth. One hopes they still had each other, even if all the glory days were over.

 

Chicago Millinery History: Saks Fifth Ave on Michigan Ave in the 1920s. April 2, 2017

Saks Fifth Avenue was established in New York City in 1924. They had branched out with Palm Beach, FL and Southampton, N.Y, resort stores successfully in 1928, and then decided Chicago was the next on their horizon. Opened at 840 N. Michigan Ave, in March  of 1929, they faced serious long established competitors. In the log written by the head of Charles A Stevens there was concern of several of their employees having been lured away to be employed by Saks.

Saks found their newest home in a recent hot spot, in what is now a still vibrant fashion shopping Mecca, north Michigan Ave. It is oft referred to now as the Magnificent Mile. It was only after the opening of the Michigan Ave Bridge/DuSable Bridge with the Tribune Tower on the north side in 1920 did old Pine Street become a desirable destination. The Drake Hotel, between Walton and Oak, anchored the north end of the business, hotel and shopping expansion. 

SAKS AD 2-17-29

Feb 17 a group of north Michigan avenue retailers combined to be featured in a full page Chicago Tribune advertisement, with a map in the center. The Saks store ad indicates an early March opening. They would have been in the same Michigan Chestnut Building as two shops in this form of weekly Sunday ad, run over the next few weeks. The Chintz Shop would not have competed, and may have welcomed the arrival of Saks. Later the Don Lynn fashion shop may have had great reservations about the future.

The Women’s Athletic Club at 626 N. Michigan opened in April, 1929 and was a great draw to this hotly developing shopping area. They were the new home March 1 of the first branch of a successful shop on Diversy, the Leslie Shop. http://glessnerhouse.blogspot.com/2013/02/womans-athletic-club-of-chicago.html

One should not confuse Leslie with Leschin, another fashion spot. Leschin had Jack Leschin listed as a manufacturer of millinery in the 1920 census, living at 831 Ainslie with his family. In 1910 he had been a manager of a cloak factory in Kansas City.

McAvoy at 615 N. Michigan Ave ran an ad March 11 to welcome Saks. McAvoy’s ads regularly boasted of their Fashion Board, made up of prominent Chicago women: Badger, Farrell, King, Madlener, Meeker, McCormick, Mitchell, Otis, Winston, and Winterbotham. Another ad of theirs also on March 11 mentions clothes in the Debutante room started at $45 (equal to $635.35 in 2017.)

Saks must have been recognized by the world of criminals as well as shoppers as a place of value. June 15 found them robbed of $5,000 cash and $15,000 in jewels at the close of business, in a terrifying holdup. One wonders if Miss Florence Geraldson, the cashier, had been a former Stevens employee who wished she had never left. The thieves escaped, having worn “canvas gloves and sneakers.” 

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Kleenex was on sale in a large cosmetics ad Sept 8, 1929, and again in Nov, at Saks for $.33, in the new larger size. Hopefully the wise women invested, as the stock market crash is just weeks away. Kleenex had started in 1924 as a Hollywood product to remove theatrical makeup and cold cream, which was why it was still featured in the cosmetics department at Saks. In 1926 “A test was conducted in the Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Ads were run depicting the two main uses of Kleenex; either as a means to remove cold cream or as disposable handkerchief for blowing noses. The readers were asked to respond. Results showed that 60% used Kleenex tissue for blowing their nose. By 1930, Kimberly-Clark had changed the way they advertised Kleenex and sales doubled proving that the customer is always right.https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-kleenex-tissue-1992033c

For fashion, Saks sought the well heeled client. They were proud to feature the designs of Jane Regny https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Régny

For the person who pulls themselves away from the newspaper headlines daily about the world covering Zeppelin travels, including a stop in Chicago August 29, they may have noticed the full page ad Sept 3, 1929 for the newly opened jewelry store on Michigan Ave.

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After checking out the new place, then one could head over to Saks for some lovely items from Molyneaux. If that did not draw one, perhaps the ad on the sixth for the allure of Vionnet fashions did entice one to the store. The social elite of the city were returning from their summer homes in Lake Forest, Wheaton and Barrington, as the season was about to start here again. Attending a debut of the chosen few young women certainly required a gown from a Paris house, even if one had not toured Europe to select it there oneself. 

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No other ads were placed by Saks in the Tribune during the early fall of 1929, tho Sept 28 alerts one to the new furs from Mr. Perry A. Weinberg. Perhaps they were trying other papers to see what kind of response the others drew. Or they realized the magnitude of financial woes ahead, and felt it better to conserve their advertising dollars. Whatever financial concerns they had, they still proceeded in expansion to two additional floors in the the building they occupied, as reported Oct. 5, 1929.

By mid Sept it was clear there were financial concerns for the city. Headlines had told of the county being unable to pay their bills, especially salaries, including those of judges. They would get IOUs thru the end of the year. A reassessment of property in the county was a hopeful way to be fairer, and gain more tax revenue. That had potential but as people would be losing jobs in the future, it is not too likely as many would be able to pay those taxes. Sept 19, 1929 had a Tribune headline that the city had a  32%  deficit. That would play out to include no pay for plenty of their employees as well, including school teachers. That day they feared the dismissal of 2,000 city policemen and 800 firemen, a potentially dire situation. The city had reassessed real estate property values in 1928, had borrowed against the anticipated higher tax revenue which did not materialize, making for a mess of a financial deficit going into 1930. This news deflected from the previous big issue of the 4,000 county employees being unpaid since Sept 15.

October 25, 1929 was the final blow to the stock market. No Saks Fifth Avenue ads ran that day either. One might imagine the staff spent much of the day concerned for the future, and wondering if the holiday shopping season, soon to start, would be anything like they had hoped for when they were planning it in earlier months.

Much newspaper mention has been made of the stock market crash the end of Oct, a trigger for the Great Depression ahead. It has been a volatile market since at least the spring, and bank failures and suicides had been happening even before the crash. Those just seemed like more isolated incidents till economic gloom became better recognized. 

What other events occurred for which a new dress and hat would be desired by a lady in Chicago? The opera? Yes. Theater? Yes. The new production of Eugene O’ Niel’s third Pulitzer Prize winning “Strange Interlude” opened to 1200 attendees. The Stevens Hotel, across the street, and the theater arranged a special dinner interlude. The performance started at 5:30, and the 1.25 hr intermission was a time for theater goers to dine at the hotel, then return for the final acts of this 5 hour, nine act play. It sounds like an excellent idea, at only $1.50 for the meal, as Thanksgiving dinner was $2, vs $2.50 at the Palmer House.

saks umbrellas

A practical purchase for gifts or oneself, if only to save one’s hat from rain and snow, would have been the special on Nov 23 for umbrellas at a mere $7.50. Just after Thanksgiving Saks featured shoes for $9.85 for values to $27.50, and the same ad is repeated several days.

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One wondered if Saks actually sold hats, a mystery solved when a semi annual clearance sale is announced Dec 2, and millinery is mentioned. Whew! One could relax, tho no hat photos make one wonder if they were all a cloche style, or perhaps a bit more adventurous. 

Speaking of the ads themselves, most Saks ads were rather bland. The two cosmetic ads were simply lists of items with prices, and the shoe sale showed no shoes. Even the biggest ads in the fall for Vionnet and Molyneaux were copies of typed letters from the fashion houses. The aura of mystery was certainly the approach Saks took. Lots of competitors featured lovely drawings, such as Blum’s Vogue Dec ____1929. 

But finally Saks has pulled out all the stops for a full page ad on Dec 8, a Sunday paper, to draw those Christmas shoppers inside their doors. The image contained an Art Deco feel of a woman holding a ship. They were not selling ships, but selling the allure of imported goods, especially French items. 

saks baGS

They followed up on Dec. 12 to entice gift givers to select a purse, with prices which ranged to $250. ( Or $3,530 in 2017)

1929 BAGS

For the bargain hunter, The Fair, a reputable mid-price department store, had an ad of handbags ranging to $15.That week Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co showed “original couturier bags from Lelong, Patou, Worth, Lanvin, and Paquin at $15 to $35.” All the ads were of little use from Dec 18th, and 19th, as a blizzard had hit Chicago, “the worst of a decade.” It caused 12 deaths, and plummeted the temps to zero. For shoppers who had left that gift buying task for the last weekend before Christmas, the city was a mess. 900 shovelers and 75 trucks were working to clear the downtown; the rest of the city had to wait for it to melt.

OG BAGS

By Dec 21 O’Conner and Goldberg, known as OG, the store for shoes, had to do something with their 1,500 handbags, which were marked down to $5, from $27.50.

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By Dec 23 even Saks had to move their $7.50-$10 purses, marked down to $4.95. Perhaps we have a case of handbag wars, where sellers were bound and determined those lovely little evening bags with so much holiday appeal get out their doors, one way or another. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1929/12/23/page/4/article/display-ad-3-no-title

How many people trudged thru the snow for these bargains is unknown. But teachers were not going shopping for many gifts. The city was so broke for weeks they could not be paid, no matter what they went thru to get to work during the blizzard. Loop departments stores placed ads specifically telling teachers they could open credit accounts immediately. In a last minute deal borrowed funds were found to give teachers their checks on Dec. 24th. But sadly for them things would be worse in 1930, with far worse gaps unpaid. For now, Chicagoans went about their business of celebrating a white Christmas, a bit diminished, but hopeful of a new year of hats and handbags. Maybe they even went inside Saks, just to see what it was all about, even if buying their hats seemed outrageous.

 

Chicago Millinery History:Allied Millinery Industries of Chicago March 17, 2017

Filed under: Chicago,Chicago Millinery History,hat,millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 9:02 pm
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millinery fashion show allied 1926

The Allied Millinery Industries of Chicago Fashion Show was held at the hottest spot in Chicago, the Sherman House. This unused gummed stamp is all that has been found to know the group ever existed.

Sherman had made his money in brick manufacturing, but it was another early entrepreneur, Joseph Byfield who bought the hotel when it had lost it’s allure. It was rebuilt, and then in 1926 became even more notable:

“In 1925 at a cost of over seven million dollars, Beifeld expanded the hotel with a 23-story tower, another Holabird and Roche design.  By the end of that decade the Hotel Sherman contained 1600 guest rooms and a banquet hall seating 2500.  It was reported to be the largest hotel west of New York City.” (Byfield died Sept 17, 1926, so he was not around too long to enjoy his efforts, tho he might have been on hand for the February show. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1926/09/18/page/6/article/joseph-byfield-hotel-sherman-president-dies)

sherman hotel
The Sherman House Hotel

“It was at the new Sherman House in 1926 that “Big” Bill Thompson, former mayor of Chicago, acted as a mediator in a “peace conference” between Al Capone and Bugs Moran. On September 26, after a long spring and summer of violence, eight carloads of Moran’s north-siders led by mobster Hymie Weiss, shot up the Hawthorne Hotel in Cicero, where Capone was dining.  Days later Capone ordered the assassination of Weiss, who died in a hail of bullets shot from a snipers’ nest at 747 North State Street, almost directly across the street from Holy Name Cathedral.

At the Hotel Sherman conference, Capone pleaded, “I couldn’t stand hearing my little kid ask why I didn’t stay home in Chicago . . . If it wasn’t for him I’d have said, ‘To hell with you fellows!  We’ll shoot it out.’ But I couldn’t say that, knowing it might mean they’d bring me home some night punctured with machine gun fire.” [Chicagocrimescenes.blogspot.com]

It was decided that Moran’s gang would control the north-side of the city near the lake and Capone would control the south-side below Madison Street, plus Cicero.  As a result there was a 70-day period where no gangland murders occurred, the longest period without machine gun fire in years.” http://www.connectingthewindycity.com/2011/03/down-they-forgot-as-up-they-grew.html

Where was this location? Tho the hotel is long torn down, the land is now filled with the Thompson Center-no not for the Thompson who was mayor in the 20’s, but the Illinois Governor of 1977-91.

thompson center

The James R. Thompson Center Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

http://interactive.wttw.com/loop/buildings/james-r-thompson-center

Wish you could find some fashion there? Not too likely, tho there is food. AND they wear hats while they sell. Or at least one can hope they do. March 28, 2017 is a Girl Scout Cookie sale: https://www.illinois.gov/cms/About/JRTC/Pages/events.aspx

 

Chicago Millinery History: Photographers-Jacob Fein

Filed under: 1923,Chicago,Chicago Millinery History,millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 6:13 pm
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Searching for Chicago’s millinery history has brought many trade cards my way via eBay and Etsy. Those are most likely to have names to research, often starting and ending with Ancestry.com.
On a rare occasion photos taken in Chicago of women in hats catch my eye. Rarely are there names. Usually this means there is no further research. Occasionally these are professional studio cards with a name present. One can rarely tell if these were visitors to the city, who brought their hometown hats along, and desired a concrete reminder of their trip. They found the professional photographers aplenty in Chicago.

Some locals who actually made or bought their hats here also had photos done. This was an expensive indulgence and could have cost as much as a hat. Perhaps they wanted to impress relatives afar to whom cards were sent, as some photos from the professionals have a back which is designed for mailing as a postcard.
Here is a few photo which creates more questions than answers.

“Twins?”
This card was listed on Etsy with the title “Vintage photo 1915 Chicago Fein Studio Beautiful twin Sisters Roses Hat Coat Chain Purse RPPC.”
Not to rule out the remote chance they were sisters, but even fraternal twins are a stretch. Their hats are totally different! Tho the coats have very similar accents of ribbon and flowers, as well as sporting possibly matching purses, they look nothing alike. Perhaps the seller never had a chance to look above the neckline of the coat.
If they were merely friends, they were close enough to feel the need to dress similarly in clothing. Hats tell a different story. Two different straw bodies were used. Different flowers were used. Large ribbon bows may be similar, but when looked at in total, these were different expensive hats, no matter who thinks they are twins.

The card is dated as 1915, by the seller, who obtained it from an photo album similarly dated. The reverse was postcard format from the Fein photo studio. It is almost impossible to see the Fein embossing, but it is there.
Historians did a kind deed when they compiled a list of some studios. This list spans 1847-1900, and was published by the Chicago History Museum in 1958. The actual copy is in the Sangamon State University Library in Springfield, IL.
http://www.archive.org/stream/chicagophotograp00chic/chicagophotograp00chic_djvu.txt

Fein & Schnabel 1897-1900 – Rm 12, 9215 Commercial. It looks like Fein struck out on his own before 1915, as the directory ends in 1900. 9200 S Commercial, in Chicago, is 10 miles southeast of the downtown area. This places the studio about two blocks from the Chicago Skyway/90. Currently 9211 is a McDonalds, with no building adjacent. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and when this area was annexed to the city in 1891, it was known as Ainsworth, tho presently it is South Chicago, area 46. After the Chicago Fire of 1871 much industry moved south, and it blossomed, welcoming US Steel in 1901. This was a mixed population, the melting pot, working class stable neighborhood. It may have been probably predominantly European immigrants with some Mexican population influx in the early 1900s.

In the 1923 Polk Directory Fein’s studio was at 9120 Commercial. (In 1909 the city changed the numbering system, ) Jacob J Fein, the owner, lived at 2109 E. 72nd Place.

Back in the 1910 Census Jacob, 41, from Germany, was living with his wife Anna, 25, born in IL, at 2903 W 91st St, almost around the corner of the studio. In 1920 the Feins had a 9 year old daughter, Helen M, born in IL. Tho this census tells us Jacob came from Germany in 1891, Anna was born in IL of Irish parents. By 1920 they had moved to the 72nd Pl location they were at in 1923, and remained there thru 1930, where the home was valued at $15,000, which has a buying power of $210,000 today. By the 1940 census Jacob is retired and he and Anna have moved to 7800 Ridgeland, where they rented for $45/month in a three flat apartment. Jacob died in 1942, and is buried in the area.

Who were the girls in the picture Jacob took? Where did those hats come from? Wherever they were from, they chose a good photographer, and someone saved that photo for at least another 100 years. Another kind soul, Marianne Clancy, chose to share it with me.https://www.etsy.com/shop/maclancy

If one thinks it was fun to find this photographer, the thrill paled compared to the pages of milliner names in 1923. For a list of milliners and millinery wholesalers from 1923 take a peek here:
http://www.chicagoancestors.org/sites/default/files/downloads/1923businessl-m.pdf
It is within the realm of possibility the hats worn in the postcard were purchased from a milliner on this list. With many dozens of milliners and shops  listed in this directory one might expect the overwhelming majority had been in business 8 years earlier.

Perhaps these gals made a point of visiting many millinery shops in the area. IF only they were still around to tell me all the juicy details of those shops.

 

Chicago Millinery History:Agnes Balkwill March 12, 2017

Filed under: 1923,millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 2:47 pm
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Agnes Balkwill was a unique name when looking through the hundreds of milliners listed in the 1923 Directory of Chicago. When trying to unearth the details of the lives of Chicago milliners on Ancestry.com it often is easier when the name is unique.

The hats of Agnes youth would have looked like this:

womens hats 1910s

For a fuller description of how hats changed from 1910-1920: http://www.uvm.edu/landscape/dating/clothing_and_hair/1910s_hats_women.php

In the 1900 census Agnes Balkwill, referred to as Grace, 10 years old, lives at 1611 Kedzie, at Diversy (prior to address number changes ) Edith is born Feb 1891, there is Grace, born 1889, plus parents and sibs, with little Ester only 1. Here is the info from the census as listed under her father’s name:

Name: John Balkwill
Age: 33
Birth Date: May 1867
Birthplace: Canada
Home in 1900: Chicago Ward 27, Cook, Illinois
Race: White
Gender: Male
Immigration Year: 1888
Relation to Head of House: Head
Marital Status: Married
Spouse’s Name: Mary Balkwill
Marriage Year: 1888
Years Married: 12
Father’s Birthplace: Canada English
Mother’s Birthplace: Canada, England
Occupation: View on Image
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
John Balkwill 33
Mary Balkwill 31
Ideth Balkwill 9
Grace Balkwill 10
William Balkwill 4
Esther Balkwill 1

In the 1910 census, spelled Balkmill, Agnes, 20 yrs old, is living at 2828 Kedzie, (now the block north of Diversy) and she works for the telephone company. She is in the same house with parents and sibs. Father is 42, moulder in iron foundry, mother Marie is 41, does not work, sister Edith is 17 and a private family nurse.  2 younger sibs, one, her sister Ester. The parents came 21 years earlier. All children born in IL, and father born English Canada, mother Norway. He came 1886, she came 1887.

2828 kedzie

I am officially hooked on finding out details of Agnes life, as she lived feet away from where I lived in my youth. When she was 10 the house she lived in would have been visible outside my bedroom window. Granted I was not looking until about 1960, and the house had been replaced by a filling station, the term used for a gas station back then.  The house she spent her teens, north of Diversy,  was one I walked past on my way to elementary school every day. She may well have gone to the same elementary school, which is a heartwarming thought.

In the 1920 census she was living at 4711 Kedzie, with her own millinery shop. That building has been torn down. She is 30yrs old, single, born in Canada, tho other census state IL, of Norwegian parents, tho other census state father from Canada and mother from Norway. Her mother and two siblings still lived at 2828 Kedzie.

4818 Fargo

In 1940 Agnes 50, is married to Asa Chapman 53, a packer and mover, and as they were in 1930, they live at 4818 Fargo, now known as Skokie. (It was Niles, as in Niles Township, prior to part becoming Skokie.) Her divorced sister Edith Lenville is living with them, tho Edith lived in Chicago in 1935.

1950-05-08 Chicago Tribune (IL) CHAPMAN
Agnes Balkwill Chapman, beloved wife of Asa B. Chapman, dear sister of William Balkwill, Edith Linville, and Esther Van Schoyck, fond aunt of Lois Linville Reed and Lloyd Van Schoyck Jr. Funeral Monday, May 8, at 2 p.m., from funeral home, 8057 Niles Center road, Skokie, Ill. Please omit flowers.

I just drove home past that funeral home yesterday, hours before finding out all these tidbits of the life of Agnes Balkwill. Perhaps she is even buried at the cemetery at the end of my block.

If only a hat from her shop could magically appear for a photo, or a photo of Agnes came along, this trip down memory lane would be complete.

 

Chicago Millinery History: Martha Rahl March 11, 2017

pullmanbldg2

Martha Rahl had quite the location for her millinery establishment at 202 S. Michigan Ave, the Pullman Building, seen above, at the corner of Michigan and Adams. This is the west side of the street, across from the Art Institute of Chicago. The block west of Michigan was Wabash, and on that entire block north of Adams were the millinery meccas of Gage Hat and Edson Keith, primarily wholesalers. It was an excellent location, her last location.

downtown street building drawing of lots

Looking at the drawing of the Pullman Building in block 5, https://chicagology.com/goldenage/goldenage067/, one sees the western half of the block north, block 4, with the Palmer House across from it. The Pullman building had been built in 1893, by the Pullmans who built rail cars, with two other mega buildings south of the downtown area. They put their executives in offices of this ten story building, and included the first floor of shops. At the time of this map it shows the south edge of the Pullman building butting the Palmer House stables,(Red arrow), probably an unpleasantly fragrant place. By the time Martha had her shop in the Pullman Building the stables had been replaced in 1904 by the Chicago Orchestra Hall, now known as Symphony Center. The other shops in the Pullman building in 1926 included linens, gloves and corsets, books, cigars, the Tip Top Café, and best of all, Fannie May Candy.

Fannie May candy has been around since their first shop in 1920 at 11 N. LaSalle, north of the financial district, several blocks west of Michigan Ave. By the time we find Martha’s shop listed in a directory in 1923, Fannie May had 22 shops, making their $.70/lb candy quite the draw for anyone near the building. That foot traffic could only have augmented the foot traffic into Martha’s shop as well.

Backtracking to the earlier years for Martha and we find her listed in a directory for Houston, TX in 1900, as a trimmer at Miss Katie G. Welch, located at 615 Main St, and rooming at 818 Main St. Katie also roomed at the same location.

Sometime after that she came to Chicago, as the first ad we find is in 1905.The shop was at 30 N. Michigan and remained there till she moved a block away, sometime after 1917.

Martha does not appear in the 1900 Polk directory, the 1904, 1906, 1910 Blue Book, nor oddly the 1910 directory, yet she advertised in the Blue Book back in 1905. The same ad appears in the 1915 issue of the Blue Book, so she did not give up on it entirely.She appears in a 1917 Directory still at 30 N. Michigan, suite 615.

The 1910 census has Martha, 26, as a milliner living as a lodger at 2018 Independence in Chicago. A residence address in 1923 is given for 4462 Woodlawn, and her occupation is listed as ladies ready to wear. http://www.chicagoancestors.org/sites/default/files/downloads/1923ra-re.pdf

ChicagoBB1915_0820

It seems likely Martha read thru the 1904 issue and looked at the millinery competition, thinking she could do well in reaching out to the biggest spenders. Maison Novelle ran a full page ad just inside the cover. The ten milliners with ads were scattered around the city. None had shops on Michigan Ave, tho two had locations in the Masonic Temple. Many other shops existed, they just did not advertise in the Blue Book.

The Masonic Temple was built in 1892, and was considered the tallest building in Chicago from 1895-1899 at twelve stories. It’s location on the northeast corner of Randolph and State is now a Walgreens, across from Macy’s store, the former Marshall Field store.

Chicago_Masonic_Temple_Building

The two milliners from the Masonic Temple were Mrs. Marguerite Prucka on the fifth floor, and Madam Hunt on the twelfth floor. Madam Hunt’s ad also included her title as President of the National Milliners Association.

Hats were sold in department stores, apparel shops and millinery shops. Knowing who your overall competition is remains a fundamental aspect of successful marketing, especially in the immediate vicinity, including apparel stores and department stores.
Two of the big players nearby in the high end fashion apparel stores would be Blum’s and Leschin.

Blum’s Vogue

624 S. Michigan Avenue was built in 1908 for the Chicago Musical College,  headed by Florenz Ziegfield Sr. Mr. Ziegfeld was the father of the Broadway Follies producer Flo Ziegfield, Jr. Topping off at 15 floors  in 1922 they had the building renamed the Blum Building.

Leschin

318 Michigan Ave South.
In 1916 Jack Leschin, who had handled the millinery department for the now defunct Ferguson Dept store, opened in the old Ferguson location. Capitalized at $100,000 he partnered with several who had been associated with Bonwit Teller in NYC.
In 1921 “Samuel Leschin, milliner” leased space for 10 years fronting State St at Jackson for millinery. Is this a relative of Jack’s?

An ad from Leschin on March 4, 1925 features a lace and taffeta dress for $75. That is a high end dress, $933.37 in 2017 dollars.
Oct 8 1929 full page ad features Leschin designs, including draped on the head hats for $18.50. Since the Stock Market Crash of 1929 started Oct 24, one wonders how many shoppers regretted some of their expensive fashion investments. The Depression impacted all retail, but Leschin weathered things well enough to move to classier digs in 1931.

Department stores two blocks to the west of Michigan Ave, on State Street, drew a high concentration of shoppers.

Perhaps Martha had the time to read the Sunday Tribune newspaper on March 1, 1925. That year Easter was April 12, so the last minute rush was not upon her just yet.
To look at the ads for millinery from her closest competitors, one finds a variety of price point items. Mid-priced and lower priced millinery could be found at $5 for Felts at Mandels, Hillmans, with a 26th Anniversary Sale, of 5000 hats at $4.45, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. at $3.45-$3.85.
mar 2 1925 fields ad
Since Marshall Field and Co. did not advertise on Sunday, one would need to wait for the full page fashion ad of Monday, March 2, 1925. The drawing in the center of the page shows the narrow lines of the dresses, and the cloche hats. It was Spring Opening that day, with plenty of loyal customers headed downtown to make their selection. The paragraph on the right side of the print section advises the reader to select a “Wee Sleekit Beastie” rhinestone pin of horses, owls, elephants, dogs, peacocks and lions for $1.50, as they “are quite correct for Spring bonnets.”

carsons ad mar 2 1925

Carson Pirie Scott and Co featured some hats at $15 in their ad.

mar 1 1925 fashion article
One of the fashion articles March 1 indicated the silhouette had not really changed, and an ad for the high end Johnson & Harwood completed the other half of the page. Three pages filled with the women of society and club activities would have caught Martha’s attention, as her clientele were likely to include some society ladies. Keep in mind the Blue Book ad twenty years before which Martha ran in 1905, and in 1915, had her hats costing $10-$150.

Directories for the city with the Pullman Building mention the Martha Rahl shop thru 1930. It makes one wonder if the Depression took it’s toll on the business.

Sadly tho, it seems the spring fashion pages of 1925 were the last for Martha herself, as for unknown reasons she died on July 19, 1925. She had lived on the south side, and was buried at a south side cemetery, Oak Woods at 1035 East 67th Street.

Martha may have only lived 43 years, but she saw a lot of hats from Michigan to Houston to Chicago, having had one of the finest shops on Michigan Avenue.

Name: Martha Rahl
Birth Date: 30 Sep 1881
Birth Place: Battle Creek, Michigan
Death Date: 19 Jul 1925
Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Burial Date: 21 Jul 1925
Cemetery Name: Oakwoods
Death Age: 43
Occupation: Manager – apparel shop
Race: White
Marital Status: S
Gender: Female
Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Father Name: Walter Rahl
Father Birth Place: Scarnton, Pennsylvania
Mother Birth Place: New York, New York
 

Chicago Millinery History: Directory 1923 Comparison of Clark St & Milwaukee Ave. March 8, 2017

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Cecelia Heselbarth Chicago Milliner

The 1923 Polk Directory was the precursor of what would become the “phone book.”
On two pages there were many dozens of milliners and millinery shops listed. Intense desire exists to learn all about each and every one, but it would take years of research to uncover the lives of these people. Not that it won’t be attempted.

Besides wanting to know about the individuals, another question arose when two areas were selected to examine how many milliners or shops were in two different areas of the city.
Two diagonal streets were selected on the north side. One, Clark Street, was chosen as it was an area in which the last long successful milliner had his last shop.

Having made hats for fifty years, Raymond Hudd had shops in the early years on Elm and then on Oak. But Clark Street was the one some Chicagoans may still remember, as he closed in 2000.

The other diagonal street, Milwaukee Av. was also an outreach from the Loop, the downtown of the city, tho it was further west. It was a main thoroughfare for expansion. It was selected for this review, not based on some scientific or logical basis, but as it was the western edge of my neighborhood in my youth. Hopefully this review could trigger some recall of hat shops still present later, in the 1950s. Nothing else has brought those hat shops back to mind so far.

Clark St from North Ave to Diversy, 1600-2800 North, covers 12 blocks = 4 hat shops:

Celia Heselbarth 2335 Clark

The Agnes Shoppe 2455 Clark

Authenrieth and Streat 2556 Clark

Mrs. Hortense Bates 2743 Clark

That seemed like a lot of Hat shops in a small area. It did not include cross streets, which also likely had shops.

Milwaukee Ave from 2400 to 3000 North, covers 6 blocks=8 shops.

Minnie Levinstein 2453 Milwaukee

Tillie Anderson 2533 Milwaukee

Mary E. Luckman 2534 Milwaukee

Ella Evans 2638 Milwaukee

Celia C. Mall 2648 Milwaukee

Josephine Kaminski 2846 Milwaukee

Mrs. Pauline Schlesinger 2868 Milwaukee

Bartholmae Michalski 2978 Milwaukee

Perhaps this section does not have as many cross streets with more hat shops.

In trying to determine why there would be so many less shops on Clark St, one wonders if the proximity to the Loop for the Clark St area residents took them downtown to shop, as there was an intense clustering of options there. Perhaps the residents of the Clark St. area had greater access to transportation to get down town, and more disposable income to spend on more, and more costly hats downtown.

The residents of Milwaukee Ave would have been heavily immigrant groups, with perhaps less English language fluency to deal with downtown, and less comfort in traveling further into the even more intense urban area of the Loop. Less disposable income may have led those shoppers to chose to buy locally where additional funds were not spent on transportation.

It seems possible the rents charged for shop areas along Clark were higher than along Milwaukee, but finding factual information on this in 1923 looks like it could be a major task.

Anyone have some other thoughts why there would be more shops on Milwaukee than Clark? (Both had probably equitable open lands, Clark with Lincoln Park, and  Milwaukee with Logan Square and park area.) So many questions, no real answers.

Now back to those dozen milliners and shops. Ancestry.com reveals many tidbits of the past. Census records give insight to the lives of many.

Clark St.

Of the four on Clark St, the one named Agnes has too little information to explore. We are down to three to investigate.

Authenrieth and Streat 2556 Clark
In the residential section of the directory Authenrieth is not seen, with the appropriate page unavailable. (Who tore that out? Shame on you! ) Mrs. Ruth Streat lived at 927 Beuna. Nothing further has been found.

Mrs. Hortense Bates 2743 Clark
In the residential section of the directory Hortense is listed as living at the Edgewater Beach Hotel. Those would be pretty nice accommodations in 1923, leading one to think Hortense had a good millinery business, even tho nothing further has been found.

Celia Heselbarth 2335 Clark
In the residential section of the directory Celia is listed as 2335 Clark do. The meaning of the abbreviation “do” is not in the key to abbreviations, so one makes a guess. DO could mean directly over, as it was common for shops to have owners living on the premises.

Cecelia Heselbarth is the one from Clark St where plenty of information could be found. She was born in 1870 in IL and died 11/28/1953 in Chicago IL. She is buried at St Boniface Cemetery on Clark St in Chicago, and shares a headstone with sister Sophia Schirra born 1869.

In the 1900 Census Cecelia, listed as Sadie, age 28, born in IL, with a mother born in WI and a father born in Germany, is married to Robert Hasselbarth, 34, born in IL in 1865. They have been married for 5 years and have no children. Robert is a clerk, and Sadie works in millinery. They live at 274 Lincoln, an address which changed when the city renumbered in 1909 to about the 700 block of Lincoln, between Huron and Superior, but it no longer remains. (There is a family tree on Ancestry which lists Celia’s married name as Heselbarth, and maiden name as Dietrich, with a census listing a father who was a brick mason, and sister Sophia born in 1869 The picture at top of this blog post if of Celia/Cecelia from the Family Tree from JGurion on the Bohman Family Tree http://person.ancestry.com/tree/24136540/person/1997961176/facts )
A 1904 city directory lists Mrs. Celia Heselbarth at 274 Lincoln, under the heading of Milliners.

In the 1910 census Cecelia is still living with Robert, married 13 years with no children. She is a proprietor of a millinery store, and Robert is a foreman in an enameling factory. This is the last that can be found of Robert. They were living at 2265 Lincoln, which in 2017 has two floors of apartments above the Kelsy’s Bar.

In the 1920 census Cecelia is widowed, and rents to a “roomer” another woman, Mollie Weishaar, age 30, who is a milliner. They are still living at 2265 Lincoln. Cecelia still owns a millinery shop, which could well be located at 2335 Clark, as found in the 1923 Polk Directory. (2335 N. Clark in 2017 is a Byline Bank, located next door to the Reebie Storage, with a most notable façade.) The Ancestry.com family tree includes pictures of Cecelia, Mollie/Amalia, and Sophia together.

In the 1930 census Cecelia and Sophia Shirra are both widowed, and Cecelia is listed as a “roomer”, and Amalia Weishaar, 38, a milliner. Cecelia still owns her millinery shop. Now all three women are at 4830 N. Damen. Sophia owns the building at a value of $7,000, and rents an upstairs flat to a family for $42.50/month.

In 1940 it is just Sophia and Celia, 70, now referred to as a sister, has her shop, and they are still living together. They are at the same 4830 N. Damen in a $3,000 valued two flat owned by Sophia, with a family of five as renters upstairs with a rent of $22/mo. All had been there since at least 1935. It is impressive that they were able to maintain their lifestyle to keep the home during the Depression.

As the 1950 census is not available for review, it is unknown where the story led for Cecelia/Celia, and she died in 1953.

Milwaukee Av:

Minnie Levinstein 2453 Milwaukee

In the census on ancestry.com much is revealed. Since Minnie was never married,  she is one of the easiest to track back in time. She was born June 11, 1896, and died May 26, 1977.

In 1900 the census has Minnie at age three living at 10 Newberry, in a two-flat building. She is with her parents and six other siblings. Her father, “Himan”, was a tailor with his own shop. Her mother, Anna was not employed, but with so many children at home, she worked, probably night and day. The oldest son, Simon worked for Western Electric. Both parents were from Russia and spoke Yiddish as their language. They had come to the US in 1880, and were naturalized in 1890.

In 1910 Minnie is 13. She is living with her parents, and her father is now called “Herman”, 49 yrs old. This census again asks her mother how many children she had and how many were presently alive. Anna had eight children, but only six were alive, with Minnie’s younger sister Bessie no longer included among those living in the house. They are living at 872 Paulina, in a three-flat building.

In 1920 Minnie is 23, and the only other sibling is Benjamin, a drug delivery person, living with their parents, Hyman, 60 yrs old, a tailor, and Anna, 55 yrs old. Minnie’s occupation of milliner was transcribed as  “MUDLER.” They rent at 1351 Keeler Ave.

In 1923 the Polk Directory in the residential section it lists Minnie as a milliner with her shop, but her residence is 3547 Van Buren.

In 1930 Minnie is 33, a milliner, tho now a stepdaughter, and living with her mother Anna, now listed as P. Anna, 62, and Anna’s new husband, Benjamin Counselbaum. The stepfather is retired, but it seems possibly the economic situation for them has improved, as the stepfather owns their home, valued at $12,000. They lived in a greystone two flat, still standing, at 3547 Van Buren, where Minnie had moved before 1923. One wonders if her mother had moved with her, and hence met her new husband to be, Benjamin? They have endured the stock market crash of 1929, but the most of the Depression is still ahead, and likely great jeopardy for her millinery business.

minnie levinstein couselbaum van buren house

In 1940 Minnie is living in a large group hotel, the West Manor Hotel at 210 S. Ashland, one of 115 residents. She has been there since at least 1935. It is likely her mother and stepfather have both died during the past decade. The quality of life may have been a challenge, as during the past year she has only worked 25 weeks, as a dressmaker, for an income of $500. As little as that seems, many of the other women living there did not make a lot more. Many nurses lived there, some employed at Cook County hospital, and some at private hospitals. Incomes for a state hospital nurse was noted for 26 weeks at $700, and at county hospital for 39 weeks at $500. On the low end of wages was a woman employed for 20 weeks for $300 as a designer of commercial art. On the high end of wages were two women, one a public school teacher for 38 weeks who earned $1,250. The other was a Board of Education clerk, for 47 weeks, who received $1,438.
Tho there were rough times for Minnie/Minette, at some point she moved to California. Her last Social Security benefit was paid to her at 91606 North Hollywood, in LA, CA. She died May 26, 1977, with her address of 90260 Lawndale, LA, CA. She is buried at Roosevelt Memorial Park in Gardenia, CA. Her headstone reads Beloved Aunt.

Tillie Anderson 2533 Milwaukee page not found in 1923 residential section

Mary E. Luckman 2534 Milwaukee
1923 Polk Directory lists Res at 3120 Logan Blvd.See other blog post for the life of Mary:

Ella Evans 2638 Milwaukee 1923 residential section 2436 Wilson

Celia C. Mall 2648 Milwaukee. 1923 residential section 2634 Rockwell

Josephine Kaminski 2846 Milwaukee ?1923 residential section 2135 18th

Mrs. Pauline Schlesinger 2868 Milwaukee
Married ?to Chas Schlesinger at same address

Bartholmae Michalski 2978 Milwaukee

What was happening with hats in 1923? The Flapper era was in full swing, just as was Prohibition. Most often the Cloche comes to mind for the leading style.
Feb 1, 1923 the Chicago Tribune has a full page of Carson Pirie Scott  women’s fashion items. Hats are presented with some turbans in silk and straw. Prices range from $22-$40. “Special mention is made of the Poke or ‘Cloche’ as in Vogue in Paris.” In the Help Wanted section there were six ads for millinery workers.
For the more budget minded, Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co advertised $5 sport hats in Velour the next day.
Mandel Bros gets into the act Feb 3 with 500 Youthful hats, “for school girls and their older sisters,” from $5-$8.75.
The Sunday Tribune of Feb 4 has a top half page article on fashion from Paris with four ensembles including hats. The other half of the page is an ad from Charles A. Stevens, a fashion house of high regard. The section featuring hats indicates they range from $18.50 in the Moderately Priced Millinery on the Fifth Floor. The Help Wanted ads for millinery workers had tripled since just three days before.

Spring hat season was coming alive. In honor of International Womens Day today, let’s tip our hats to the dozen milliners of a dozen blocks in Chicago in 1923. Certainly by March 8, 1923 they were knee deep in hats, since Easter was only weeks away on April 24, 1923.