Marshall Field

Marshall Field

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Marshall Field was born in Conway, Massachusetts on 18th August, 1834. At the age of 17, he moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts where he first worked in a dry goods store.

In 1856, at age 21, he went to live in Chicago, Illinois and obtained employment at leading dry goods merchant Cooley, Wadsworth and Company. He used his savings to purchase a partnership with the reorganized firm of Farwell, Field & Company.

In January 1865 Field joined forces with Levi Leiter to establish Field, Leiter & Company. Over the next few years it became one of the most successful stores in the city.

In 1881 Field bought out his remaining business partner and changed the store's name to "Marshall Field and Company". He also made Harry Selfridge a junior partner in the company. Selfridge became responsible for advertising. This included employing phrases such as "the customer is always right" and "give the lady what she wants".

Field invested in real estate in Chicago and the early railway industry. This included large investments in the Pullman Company. By 1900 he had an annual income of $40 million.

Marshall Field died on 16th January, 1906. He left an estate worth $118 million (over 2 billion in today's money). His grandson, Marshall Field III, established the Chicago Sun in October 1941.

'Marshall Field’s was Chicago': Historian to discuss department store's impact at Lockport event

Raise your hand if you still have a gift box, shopping bag, holiday mug or anything emblazoned with the Marshall Field’s logo.

OK, now use that hand to wipe away your tears.

“Marshall Field’s was Chicago,” said Sarah Sullivan, history instructor at McHenry County College. “People are still adjusting to the fact that it is gone.”

Sullivan will relive the retailer’s glory days and dive deep into how the store’s founder impacted everything from merchandising and philanthropy to women’s social life during “Marshall Field’s and Chicago,” a dinner presentation at 6 p.m. April 18 at the Public Landing restaurant, 200 W. 8th St., Lockport 815-200-1848 Cost $35 ($30 for members).

Sullivan also will present the lecture at 3 p.m. April 25 at the McHenry County Historical Society, 6422 Main St, Union 815-923-2267.

Sullivan, department chair of history, political science and economics at the college, also is a Road Scholar with the Illinois Humanities group, which together with the Canal Corridor Association, is hosting the presentation.

For more than 150 years, Sullivan said, the story of Marshall Field and Company, which was sold to Federated Department Stores in 2005, was entwined with the story of Chicago.

“There were events throughout Chicago history in which Marshall Field’s played a really big role — the Eastland tragedy, the Iroquois fire disaster, the World’s Fair, various snow storms,” Sullivan said.

And then there were the everyday retail standards that made shoppers, whether affluent or financially struggling, feel special, she said.

“Because Field’s had such a mix of products, they met everyone’s needs. Most people have fond memories of that store. It did an excellent job of providing service to customers,” she said.

“I worked there for awhile out of college, and their level of customer service was impressive,” she said.

The retailer was the first for a whole variety of things, she said.

“At one time the store served as a drop off point for at least one man’s alimony checks. His wife would pick them up there,” she said. “That’s a whole other level of customer service for sure.

“We miss that as people I think in this time of not so much customer service,” she said.

The store also made the holidays special, even for passersby, she said.

“Many Chicagoans have memories of the Walnut Room and the giant Christmas tree and the 65 display windows outside the state street store. People remember going to see those windows as part of their Christmas experience,” she said.

Sullivan has been teaching at McHenry County College for about 22 years. When she went back to school to pursue a degree in history 10 years ago, she chose to research Marshall Field’s for a pop culture class.

“I found a lot of interesting things that I’m eager to share with the world,” she said.

Her presentation looks at the evolution of what would become the largest department store in the world by 1914.

Marshall Field the man was a poor boy who came to Chicago in 1858 and worked with other retailers, including Potter Palmer and Levi Leiter, she said.

“Through savvy merchandising and being clever in how they packaged products, and their ability to connect to women, they ended up amassing a fortune,” she said. Field saved his money, even sleeping in the store.

His frugality enabled him to invest in what became Marshall Field and Company.

“It was a destination to come there. There was a lot of status in that,” she said.

The presentation will cover the architecture of the State Street store, designed by Daniel Burnham, she said.

“I look at the services the store provided. And I look at its connections to the community,” she said.

“His store took the place of gentlemen’s clubs for women. There were women in the 1890s who would come almost everyday to Marshall Field’s. They’d come at 10, shop for a little, have lunch and in the afternoon there would be a fashion show or cooking demonstration and then they’d go home before kids got home. That was their social life,” she said.

“If you look at the balconies, they were designed for people to see and be seen. There was a transit stop right outside the door. The Tiffany stained glass ceiling was the largest Tiffany glass mosaic ever produced,” she said.

Field, she said, gave back to the city that made him great, contributing to the establishment or continuation of the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Historical Society (now known as the Chicago Historical Museum), the Museum of Science and Industry and the University of Chicago.

“He also led the charge as a civic leader to raise money for victims of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco,” she said.

There were a lot of savvy things that made it easy for people to come and shop at Marshall Field, Sullivan said.

1905—Death of Marshall Field Jr.

Marshall Field, Jr., son of the Chicago merchant and capitalist, shot and perhaps fatally wounded himself at his residence, 1919 Prairie avenue, shortly before 6 o’clock last night. Within half an hour he had been taken to the Mercy hospital, where an operation was performed. The attending surgeons said the patient had a slight chance for recovery.

Mr. Field was alone in his dressing room when the shot was fired. Statements authorized by the Field family last night were to the effect that the shooting was accidental, but the physicians refused to discuss the question.

The wound was caused by a bullet from a new automatic revolver which Mr. Field has been examining and cleaning, preparatory, it was said, to going into the Wisconsin woods on a hunting trip.

Henry Dibblee, who was summoned to the Field residence, made the only statement for the family. Marshall Field, the father, and his wife, formerly Mrs. Arthur Caton, are in New York. Mr. Field was informed on the tragedy by long distance telephone, and he made plans to start for Chicago at once, either by special train or one of the regular New York-Chicago fast trains.

The ball entered the body on the left side, tore its way through to the back, and lodged just under the skin. Dr. Bevan, who performed the operation at the hospital, found it necessary only to make a slight incision to extract the ball.

A bulletin, given out at the home of Mr. Driblee, the wounded man’s uncle, late last night was to the effect that the ball did not touch the intestines or the stomach, but had apparently passed through the liver, as the patient suffered a severe hemorrhage of that organ after he was taken to the hospital.

Mrs. Field was not at home when her husband shot himself. She had been making calls with her son Henry, and returned to find an ambulance at the door. The only persons in the house before Mr. Dibblee was called from his residence at 1920 Calumet avenue were the servants and MArshall Field III and Miss Penfield, a nurse, who was caring for the boy.

The butler and Miss Penfield were the first persons to reach Mr. Field’s side after the shooting. They heard the sound of a muffled shot at 6:10 o’clock. A moment later Mr. Field called for help and the nurse and the butler ran to the room, which is on the second floor in the front of the house.

Enormous Queen Anne mansion of Marshall Field, Jr from 1890 till 1905. designed in 1884 by architect Solon S. Beman at 1919 S. Prairie Avenue. The home contains fifteen bedrooms, nine bathrooms, fourteen fireplaces and over 21,000 sq. ft. of living space, plus a coach house.

Found Lying on Couch.
They found Mr. Field lying on a couch fully dressed and pressing his hands to his left side. The pistol was lying on the rug at the injured man’s feet. The police were not informed of the shooting, but a telephone message to Mr. Dibblee brought him to the Field residence within a few minutes.

Dr. R. H. Harvey, 2100 Calumet avenue, was the first physician summoned. Dr. Arthur Bevan, 2917 Michigan avenue, was sent for and he accompanied the patient to Mercy hospital, where he was placed in a private room on the second floor of the west wing.

The operation was performed at 6:30 o’clock. It was then discovered that the bullet had perforated the liver, but that it had missed the intestines by aq narrow margin. The bullet was removed from the right side, where it had lodged a short distance beneath the skin.

Operation Stops Hemorrhage.
Dr. Bevan, the operating surgeon, said after the operation:
“We operated upon Mr. Field at the hospital at 6:30. We found a good deal of hemorrhage and a perforation of the liver. We controlled the hemorrhage and removed the bullet. The wound is a very serious one, but I think he has a chance of recovery.”

The doctor was asked, “Do you mean, doctor that he his chances of recovery are slight?”

“I prefer to express myself in this way:
He has some chance of recovery.”

Dr. Frank Billings, family physician of Mr. Field, Sr., for years, was not at home when first summoned, but he arrived at the hospital later in the evening and explained the wound. He said:

“I have seen Mr. Field and I think he has a chance to recover.”

Dr. Harvey also expressed the hope that the wound might not prove fatal.

Insist Shot Was Accidental.
None of the physicians would enter into a discussion of the wound from the circumstances surrounding the shooting. When approached on that subject they referred the questioner to Mr. Dibblee, who, they said, had sole authority to talk about the case.

Mr. Dibblee was found at the Field residence and he protested that the shooting was entirely accidental. He had obtained no statement from Mr. Field himself, as the wounded man had been unconscious soon after he was shot.

“From all I can learn,” said Mr. Dibblee, “Mr. Field must have been cleaning the revolver. He had been talking about going hunting for a day or so. He was in his room and the butler and the nurse were the only persons within the sound of the shot. They sent for me at once.

“I do not know the caliber of the revolver. It was a new make of some sort, and worked automatically. That is about all I can tell you of the affair. I have sent word to Mr. Field in New York, and he told me over the long distance telephone that he would start for Chicago at once.”

The butler, when sought for a statement as to the circumstances under which he found Mr. Field in the dressing room, was said to have left the Field house. The nurse would not say anything at all concerning the shooting.

Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1913

Jail has made a purported historian of Mrs. Vera Scott, arousing her to tell with all the tainted wisdom of the night the two great events of her life. Each was a killing. She murdered her former husband, Reese Prosser, she tells the police and reporters. But that is not all.

Before that, she declared she had murdered Marshall Field, Jr., the heir to the merchant prince of Chicago. This latter assertion of hers is not credited in Chicago, in fact it is denied with emphasis.

Which was the more exciting, she doesn’t know. With a laugh at the awe she arouses the woman goes busily into the alleged details of that night when the word was flashed forth that the male heir of Marshall Field, the great merchant, was seriously injured by the bullet from a weapon which he held in his own hand. It was accidental, the world was told and that this is still maintained. Nothing to the contrary was ever shown.

Vera Scott says it was not. With undaunted jest she will go into the minutest detail, tell it with the callousness that comes from an experience as wide and deep as black sin itself, and apparently enjoy it the more because she is recounting one more man who, she asserts, became a servant to her presence.

Around these two great events, she garlands the minor excitements and “romances” of her life, such as becoming the the fiancee of a Russian count while she was an exile because of the Chicago murder, she says, and of looting the treasure from a thousand purses, where the treasurer had become her slave for the time.

She is in the City Jail because she pleaded guilty several days ago to a charge of vagrancy. Under indecent conditions she was found several days ago in the company of a ribald companion in her prestigious bungalow on West Ninth street. Police Judge White gave her a six months’ sentence.

Yesterday Mrs. Scott wrapped her bathrobe—the only outer garment she wears—about her and proceeded to review the past, musing gayly over the two greatest exploits as she views them.

Her whole life has been criminal by her own confessions. Many laws she has not transgressed, but all the license that the wisdom of the night carries she became adept in. Three times she has been married, three times divorced. Two murders she have committed she says. Innumerable men she has been engaged to. To her it is merely life.

Her view of life came from her work as a chorus girl. In the ranks she played in “Hoity-Toity” and “Hanky-Panky.”

As Viola Gilmore she was known to her associates. There she chose her lot with the people of darkness. There was nothing, she says, that she did not learn.

The early evening at the theater, and the late evening of the cafe, she recalls, and Viola Gilmore went dancing into the eddies of hysteric gayety that have made police court names for many young women.

There she resolved her theory of life, her motto for the future. It was simply: “Get the money.” She says:

Mother and father were born in Paris, but came to America before I was born. I am a daughter of Chicago. My parents’ names were Leroy and Evelyn La Gardineer. My father was a well-to-do merchant and stock broker,

I never had much patience to do as other girls do. I wanted some action. Believe me, it has always been my boast that I wanted people to call me clever instead of pretty and nice. Give me brains and let virtue look elsewhere for friendship.

I went to New York, and got into the chorus. I was getting to kn ow the ropes pretty well. Why shouldn’t I? It doesn’t take many late dinners to get you acquainted with the lobster path.

So, when Louis Clarkson came along, I grabbed him. He was a broker in Wall street at the time, making lots of money, and spending it. That’s the emphasis you always get from me—spending it. I like spenders. That’s the difference between life and existence—spenders.

He fell for me and I married him. Poor fellow, he’s dead now. It’s just as well, though. Well, I divorced him after a few months. You know I was born in 1885. Kid the camera along if you can, so it won’t tell any exaggerated accuracies about my age.

After Clarkson, came Reese Prosser. He was the son of Thomas Prosser of Cleveland, a coal king worth many millions. I had quite a lot of money at the time. My parents left me a comfortable amount when they died, and Reese had some. He spent lots of money and we got along well until he became savage. Besides, I wanted liberties. So I took them. I always have had to take liberties, anyway.

I came to California and then went back. We lived in Cleveland, and we had a little boy. He is still living. Don’t let him know about this.

Then one day I decided I wanted to have a little merrier time. Reese and I hadn’t been getting along well, anyway. So I went to Chicago. I had money, and stopped at the Annex hotel. One day, while I was sitting in the grill, George Ebret, the rich New York brewer, came up to my table and told me he wanted me to meet some friends. I had known him in New York City.

He introduced me to David Warfield, and Marshall Field, Jr. Well, Marshall Field, Jr., took a fancy to me. I told him that I was a married woman, had a baby, and that I was going by the name of Vera LeRoy. That’s the mysterious and beautiful Vera, the French girl, that was mentioned later in connection with his death.

As Ver LeRoy I went with him on the numerous parties that he arranged for my benefit.

After I had been out with him half a dozen times, perhaps, and he was getting familiar, he said he was going to a real party for me. I laughed and said ‘hurry.’

We started out in a group, but the rest suddenly drifted off. We went down the line. You know that line in Chicago, down Armour avenue and Dearborn street that he said was the Everleigh Club. I didn’t know exactly what kind of place it was. We went in, and the appointments were so magnificent that I thought it was a regular club. Men and women were there, the lights were subdued, and everyone was drinking. I thought I had gotten into the gayest party I ever saw.

Field seemed to be know. Everybody called him by name, and the woman in charge, Emma Everleigh, gave him the courtesy of a private room. We went there. Then came horrible things. We were in the room with a girl named Alice—just the three of us. He injured me. I jumped up and I remembered he had a gun in his trousers..

I was inflamed with drink and crazy mad. I told him that I would teach him never to do that kind of trick again.

Then Alice told me that he was particularly brutal, and not to notice what had occurred. She evidently mistook me, for I was there under a misunderstanding. I aimed the gun at Field and told him to stand aside. He was without clothes. The trigger must have been very finely set, for it pulled before I intended.

Field fell, mortally hurt, November 23, 1905.

Emma Everleigh, Alice, Field and I were the only ones in the room. All of us saw the shooting.

Field said to me, ‘Don’t get excited, I won’t tell. Call me a cab, quick, and get me out of this, and don’t say anything.’

I fainted. Things were reeling so fast that I couldn’t stand, and the next I knew I was going away in a cab, alone. Field was in another cab. He went to his home and I went to a small family hotel on the North Side. The next day Field’s father came to me. He told me to get out of the city, to go to New York, and he gave me $10,000 to use. I didn’t leave for several days. Each day I went to another hotel, at the request of a Field representative.

Then I went to New York. I stayed there until more money could come from the Field agent, and then West, against their wishes. I wanted to see a man in Portland and then go to the Orient. They insisted that I go abroad.

I got about $26,000 out of the Fields for leaving the country.

Then I went to the Orient. In Shanghai I met a gay crowd. Among them was Count George Padowski, who had much money. I promised to marry him and he gave me a beautiful set of pearls and other jewels. Then I left when I got tired of the country.

I came back quietly and went to Cleveland where Reese Prosser, my husband, who knew nothing about the Field affair, was glad to have me back.

In 1910 I met LeRoy Scott, fell in love with him, and told my husband that we must get a divorce. I got one against his wish. That was in Seattle. Then he followed when I was going to meet Scott, and I had to shoot him on the train in Montana. I had a trial in Libby, Mont. You wouldn’t believe it, but four of those jurors went crazy about me and I had a terrible time later in getting rid of them. They wrote me letters and wanted to come and meet me. But that’s no fun.

I picked 350 four-leaf clovers while waiting for that trial. It was not so bad.

So this is the first time I ever was in jail, really, for in Montana they let me stay in the hotel. And I couldn’t stay in jail for six months. So I guess we’ll have to have a little delivery.

For her own vanity as indulgence, she had to tell many other stories, always of men.

“I’m clever,” she said several times, “and I don’t care what else I am.

“Well, that’s two men that I have shot. I wonder who the third will be. You know it’s funny about the clovers. I had one in my shoe when I killed Field.”

She fumbled in her bathrobe, a bunglesome affair, grotesque in midday.

“Oh, well,” she said. “I’ve done something in life, anyway. I’m not going to die obscure.”

She laughed, reached in her pocket again, and twirled a morsel in her fingers.

“I wonder,” she mused, “if I have got to kill a third man.”

And from her hand dropped a head of clover. It had four leaves!

Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1913

CHICAGO BUREAU OF THE TIMES, Nov. 22.—[Executive Dispatch.] There has always been more or less mystery as to the real cause, or, to be more explicit, the actual stage of the shooting which caused the death of Marshall Field, Jr., only son of the late merchabnt prince of Chicago. That Field died of a bullet wound has been fairly well established, although there occasionally creeps out a story that he was stabbed. It is strenuously denied here that Mrs. Scott or any other woman had any connection with his death.

The account accepted and published by the Chicago papers, and which probably is the correct version, is that he was accidentally shot while examining an automatic pistol, one of a collection he owned. This happened on November 23, 1905, and he died four days later. In the interim there were many sensational rumors and these did not subside for many months. One rumor that was industriously circulated by cabmen and habitues of the underworld was that he was shot in a disorderly house and secretly rushed in a cab to his own residence, several blocks distant.

The yellow press worked assiduously upon this rumor, but never could verify it to the point where it could be published. Another rumor was to the effect that Field had been shot during a quarrel in a fashionable club, also a few blocks from his home, and had been taken there when it was learned he could not survive.

Still another version was that Field was the victim of a discharged butler. All these stories, and many others of similar character, were run down by the newspapers, but nothing tangible could ever be found to warrant any of them. Servants in the house told of Field getting a pistol of the very latest automatic pattern on the afternoon he was shot.

His wife was absent from the house at the time and he unpacked the delivery case in the presence of one or two of the servants. After examining the weapon critically, he loaded it and then started to remove the cartridges, when it was discharged, the bullet penetrating his groin and stomach. He had at first intended loading the revolver and taking it with him on a hunting trip to Wisconsin, but afterward decided to draw the cartridges.

This was when the accidental discharge occurred.


The Day Book was conceived by newspaper mogul Edward Willis Scripps as an experiment in advertisement-free newspaper publishing. The Chicago Day Book was published for a working-class readership Monday through Saturday from September 28, 1911 to July 6, 1917. Scripps chose Chicago, with its large working-class population, as the venue for the first of what he hoped would become a chain of ad-free newspapers. Free from commercial influence, the Day Book would report on issues of concern to what Scripps called the “95 percent” of the population. Priced at one cent, like the other Chicago dailies of the period, the Day Book was published in a small tabloid format of nine by six inches, with 32 pages per issue. The small format was one of many strategies Scripps used to hold down publishing costs, along with bulk purchase of newsprint for all of his newspapers and the use of features created by Scripps’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.

Circulation of the Day Book peaked at 22,839 in October 1916, and January 1917 was the only profitable month in the paper’s six-year run. Although the Day Book never achieved Scripps’s goal of 30,000 subscribers and 15 percent annual profit, scholars recognize its achievements in adopting both a new business model for newspaper publishing and a new style of advocacy journalism.

The Day Book’s most celebrated reporter was Carl Sandburg, who wrote for the paper from early 1913 until its cessation in the summer of 1917.

The Day Book publisher, N. D. Cochran, published the Los Angeles confession story in the November 24, 1913 edition. He followed the story up with this editorial four days later.

The Day Book, November 28, 1913

With an adless newspaper on sale in Chicago, the people can begin to understand the need for a free press in this country.

This has been illustrated frequently by the publication of real news in The Day Book that was suppressed by newspapers that are under obligation to their advertisers.

It was never better illustrated than within the past few days, when the big newspapers all over the country published the story of Vera Scott’s confession that she shot Marshall Field, Jr., in the notorious Everleigh Club in Chicago’s red-light district, and not a loop newspaper in Chicago printed a word of the story.

Vera Scott. formerly Prosser, made her confession to the Los Angeles police on Saturday. Both the United Press and the Associated Press carried the story in the Saturday night report for Sunday morning papers. And Chicago was the only city in the United States where the story aboutthe shooting of a Chicago milllonaire was not published.

It makes no difference whether Vera Scott’s confession was a true or not. The fact that she. confessed having shot Marshall Field, Jr. whose death has always been a mystery in Chicago, made it an important news story-and especially to Chicago people.

It requires no stretch of the imagination to understand why Chicago newspapers suppressed a big news story that other big newspapers all over the country published.


It wasn’t because the newspapers feared Vera Scott’s story was not true, for a similar confession about the killing of an ordinary citizen of Chicago would have been published on the first page of every Chicago daily under big headlines.

But to Chicago papers there appears to be something out of the ordinary, if not sacred, about the name of Field. When the late Marshall Field, the merchant prince, was alive the Chicago newspapers slobbered over him every chance they got. He was made one of Chicago’s gods, through the influence of the newspapers that got monthly checks from the big store for newspaper advertising.

Marshall Field’s powerful influence in Chicago was the power of his vast fortune and he was the greatest exploiter of labor Chicago ever knew. The men, women and children who worked in his big store were paid miserably small wages. Yet no newspaper dared make a fight for a living wage for them because the newspapers were getting part of the money he made out of cheap labor.

When his son died it was rumored all over town’ that he had been shot in the Everleigh Club by a woman. But there was no danger of newspaper publicity that would be disagreeable to the Field family. For the Fields were enormously rich, had the biggest store in town and spent hundreds of thousands a year for advertising.

But though both the father and son are dead and have gone to their reward, the magic influence of the Field name and the Field store is still felt wherever their advertisements are printed.

The power to give and to withhold newspaper advertising gives undue prominence and influence to the men who control it. It isn’t the influence of persqnality. It is the influence of MONEY.

Suppose one of the most prominent labor leaders in the country were shot in a Chicago resort—do YOU believe there would be enough influence in Chicago to prevent the big newspapers from printing the truth? .

Suppose a woman had confessed in Los Angeles that she had shot a prominent labor leader in a Chicago resort—do YOU believe the story would have been printed or suppressed?

Yet there isn’t an honest, sincere labor leader in this country who isn’t a better citizen in every true sense of the word than either of the Marshall Fields was. For a labor leader is forever trying to better the conditions of the workers, while the greedy Fields exploited men, women and children for their own inordinate profit.

Chicago newspapers are not alone in this subserviency to rich advertisers. Recently “Holy John” Wanamaker, the merchant prince of Philadelphia, was caught defrauding the United States government, and confessed his guilt by paying a fine of $100,000. Yet none ot the newspapers in Philadelphia that print his store advertisements published a word about the “holy” hypocrite’s fraud upon the government.

The newspapers that eat out of Wanamaker’s hand in Philadelphia have made a little tin god of that merchant prince, just as the Chicago newspapers made a little tin god of the lat

Now if newspapers will suppress news to please advertisers in one instance, they will do it in another. If advertisers enjoy special privilege as to public1ty, how long will the people of this republic have faith in the truth of what they read in the newspapers?

How long are the people going to permit newspaper publishers to determine who are the “prominent,” “leading” and “best” citizens, when they become convinced that money influences the judgment of those publishers?

The really important thing in the Vera Scott confession is not whether or not her story is true. It really doesn’t make much difference whether Marshall Field, Jr., shot himself or was shot by somebody else. The big thing in the story is that the newspapers that get money from the Field store for advertising suppressed it. For that helps people to see that our boasted free press is not free at all, but is a slave to its advertising patrons.

There isn’t an honest reporter or editor on anyone of the big newspapers in the loop who doesn’t know that he is hampered in giving the people the truth by the powerful influence of advertisers through the business office.

It would take pages to enumerate the news stories in The Day Book during the past two years that were suppressed by every newspaper in the loop.

People have been killed in elevator accidents in State street department stores, and the news suppressed. Last winter The Day Book printed several stories of accidents in department stores that appeared in no other Chicago newspaper.

Recently the Field store grabbed valuable public rights beneath the streets and none of the advertising newspapers protested. Later the big ore hogged a whole block of street while building operations were on and the newspapers kept quiet.

The influence of the Field millions is so powerful that the Field store can do about what it pleases to do in Chicago.

When the O’Hara committee of the Illinois senate investigated low wages in department stores, the newspapers grudgingly printed parts of the evidence, and then had hypocritical reformers and uplifterS write dope to prove that there was no connection between vice and low wages.

Not one of them lifted its voice for a living wage for the clerks in the employ of the big advertisers. They licked the hand that fed them.

This kind of slavery can’t go on forever. The people won’t stand for it. They will insist on a free press that is free to print the truth, without fear of punishment by Big Business.

They will insist on having newspapers that will be on the square with their readers.

Newspapers like The Day Book will spring into existence, and the people will depend upon them for the truth. The Day Book is but the beginning of a revolution in journalism, the forerunner of a really FREE press.

Those who have been reading The Day Book and have got accustomed to its odd size and brief manner of handling the news have found that there is more real news in every issue of The Day Book than there is in any other daily newspaper in Chicago.

And, best of all, it is under no obligation to Big Business, because it does not and will not accept advertising at any price or under any consideration. It is the only real NEWSpaper in Chicago. And it can be made to pay as a business venture without a penny’s worth of advertising in it.

I haven’t published the news about the Vera Scott confession because I find any pleasure in printing that kind of news. I wanted to illustrate a point. This story illustrates it. I wanted to show how most newspapers are slaves to their advertisers, and how an adless newspaper alone can be free.

The Day Book, November 28, 1913

Ver Scott Prosser, who confessed and later denied she killed Marshall Field , Jr., was an inmate of the Everleigh Club about the time of the Field shooting, according to several of the old-timers in the red-light district.

In those days she was known as “Vera, the French girl.” Mrs. Scott Prosser says she is French, her real name being eVra Le Gardineer.

When. Field was shot under such mysterious circumstances 8 years ago, eVra’s name was intimately connected with his death. A French waiter met her two days afterward and she showed him a large amount and explained she was going West. The next day she left for Kansas City. Mrs. Prosser’s second husband, Leroy Scott, is from Kansas City.

Vera, the French girl, was well known in the old days. She seemed to possess a veritable genius for entangling the gilded youth who insisted on sewing his wild oats on “The Line.” None of the other girls were more artful than she.

She is described by those who knew her as impulsive, neurotic , hot-tempered, jealous, winsome. coquettish and fanciful. Mrs. Prosser is described by the people of Cincinnati, where she lived with Reese Prosser, as possessing all these characteristics.

“Vera was a wonder at getting the money when she wanted to be,” said a man who knew her, “but she was
a little devil when she had been drinking. The Everleigh sisters used to have to threaten to throw her out. But she didn’t seem to care. She’d go right on fighting. And they wouldn’t throw her out because she had too many suckers come there to buy wine. After the Field affair she disappeared completely. I heard a lot of rumors concerning her. These rumors had her all over the world.”

Treasure trove of festive finds unearthed in Marshall Field’s vault

CHICAGO — When Macy’s sold the top floors of its 13-story building at 111 N. State St. in Chicago in 2018, it created a dilemma.

For decades, those floors were used primarily for executive offices and storage. The floors were home to hundreds of boxes with thousands of items from the storied history dating back to the store’s days under the Marshall Field’s moniker.

Since June, a team from the visuals department has worked diligently to un-box and catalog all of those items. What they found was a treasure trove of memories and visuals items from as far back as the early part of the 20th Century.

“It is like going to a museum,” Andrea Schwartz, who’s worked at the State Street store for more than 20 years, said.

“We try definitely to not throw anything away in retail. And especially visually, we know how to repurpose,” Schwartz said. “So it’s really a fun discovery and it just brings back the heritage.”

It is a Chicago heritage dating back 166 years, when the forebearer to Marshall Field’s first opened its doors on Lake Street. The business grew over the years and now encompasses an entire city block bordered by State Street to the West, Wabash Avenue to the East, Randolph Street to the North, and Washington Street to the South.

The items discovered include several fashion items that once made their homes on mannequins. Two different pairs of ornate, custom slippers dating back nearly a century were among the finds. And a 6-foot “Snow Queen” display from 2004, used in the famed Marshall Field’s Holiday and Christmas windows.

Also found packed away, were ornaments, handmade by the visuals department employees decades ago to hang on the Great Tree displayed every season.

“The work, the thousands of ornaments that you’d need for one tree, the Great Tree is amazing,” Jeffery Mahel, a longtime visuals department employee for Macy’s and Marshall Field’s, said. Mahel was tasked with cataloging many of the items.

For now, Macy’s has set up a section of its 7th Floor to display the historic items. Many other items have been donated to The Chicago History Museum for safekeeping and use in exhibits.

The Walnut Room & The Great Tree at Marshall Field’s

It’s a Chicago holiday tradition that continues today, even though it’s no longer the iconic Marshall Field’s flagship store: having lunch beneath the Great Tree in the Walnut Room restaurant.

Today, while scores of people line up for a table next to the sizable stroller parking lot, many head up to the 8th floor for selfies with the tree top as backdrop. Once seated, diners are treated to a visit from a fairy princess (?) along with their chicken pot pie.

I love taking my tour guests to see the Walnut Room and, with the help of historic images, imagine the elegance of days gone by. Most people have strong personal memories of the Marshall Field’s era, when everything was impeccable.

The Macy’s website inaccurately proclaims the Walnut Room “the first restaurant ever opened in a department store,” but the truth is actually more interesting. New York City and Philadelphia stores had in-store eateries as early as the 1870s, while The Fair in Chicago opened a type of cafeteria in its State Street store in 1885. Marshall Field believed firmly that merchandisers should not get in the business of feeding customers.

Until Mrs. Hering and Harry Selfridge changed his mind in 1890. Mrs. Hering was a saleswoman in the millinery department who heard her customers complain that there was “not a decent place to eat on State Street.” Mrs. Hering set a table and shared her homemade, family-recipe chicken pot pies with her grateful customers, who began bringing their friends for a little lunch in the millinery department.

As he always did, Harry Selfridge recognized a profitable opportunity when he saw one and convinced his boss to give it a try. After all, if ladies didn’t have to leave the store to find sustenance, they would spend more time shopping at Field’s.

The Marshall Field’s Tea Room in 1902 (4th floor of oldest part of store)

Marshall Field’s opened its first tea room in 1890 with five tables and the finest silver tea service. In 1893 the tea room was expanded to the entire 4th floor in the oldest section (Washington & Wabash) of the store – just in time for the Columbian Exposition. The tea room then served 1,500 people per day. On the menu next to the famous chicken pot pie: corned beef hash, chicken salad, orange punch in an orange shell, and rose punch ice cream with dressing – and a red rose at each plate.

While not the first restaurant in a department store, it was the first elegant, full-service dining establishment within a department store. Being Marshall Field’s, of course it was.

The building that houses the Walnut Room today (Washington & State) opened in September 1907. What became the Walnut Room also opened that year and was one of several restaurants – and the largest – on the 7th floor. It was originally called the South Grill Room and featured more hearty fare than tea room dainties. But it proved popular with the ladies.

Later the restaurant was renamed for the warm wood paneling that surrounded diners: Circassian walnut. Austrian crystal light fixtures and a central fountain with palms completed the elegant atmosphere.

It was December 1907 and into the soaring restaurant space came the first Great Tree… delivered at night when the store was closed.

Bringing the tree in, 1961

For over five decades the Great Tree was a 45-foot real tree, hauled up the light well in the store, monitored by firefighters, and gloriously decorated by Field’s design staff. In the early 1960s, the store made the switch to an artificial tree. Interesting to note – and thanks to my friend and long-time Field’s employee, John Barone – the Walnut Room ceiling used to be two stories taller he believes it was lowered by two floors in the 1940s to make more space for storage (you can see the change in the photographs).

The tree in the featured image is 1959.

Generations have made annual holiday visits to the Walnut Room to have lunch under the Great Tree, and that nostalgic experience continues today.

Images via Chuckman Chicago Nostalgia and Marshall Field’s archives

Marshall Field's Christmas Windows

For over a century, Marshall Field's has been delighting children at Christmas time. The Walnut Room tree, the main aisle decorations, and visits to Santa have enthralled generations, but the biggest attraction of all is the Christmas windows. These fantasies behind glass have been a huge marketing success for the company, but they have come to mean much more to the people of Chicago.

The holiday windows trace their history back to the early days of Marshall Field's. The store was founded in 1852 as a dry goods business, but as it grew, the company diversified and became one of the first of a new breed called, department stores. A few years later in 1897, Field's new display manager, Arthur Fraiser, pioneered window design. His Christmas toy windows were especially enthralling.

These windows continued through World War II. During the war a new idea struck the visual team at Field's – a plan that would make Marshall Field's as unforgettable as Santa Claus himself. They designed theme windows that span the length of State Street. As you walked from one end to the other, the windows told a story.

In 1946 Marshall Field's introduced Uncle Mistletoe to compete with Montgomery Ward's creation, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The popularity of Uncle Mistletoe soared, and was soon turned into a tri-weekly television program entitled "The Adventures of Uncle Mistletoe," which lasted for four seasons. You can still see him on the top of "The Great Tree" in the Walnut Room.

The window strategy all along has been to "Give the kids what they want", and keep people coming to the store. The year 2000 displays, featuring famous wizard Harry Potter, are likely to be as popular as ever. The Marshall Field's Christmas windows have reflected change over the past hundred years, but have still found a way to keep Chicagoans entranced.

Marshall Field - History

Marshall Field and Company at the intersection of Randolph, State and Washington Streets and Wabash Avenue in Chicago. Construction on this 12 story Landmark began in 1892. In 2005, Federated Department Stores bought all of the assets of May Department Stores which was the parent of Marshall Field’s. On September 7, 2006, all Marshall Field stores took on the Macy’s nameplate.

The Great Clock was installed on Marshall Field’s State Street Store on November 26, 1897. Marshall Field envisioned his great clock as a beacon that could be seen for miles and attract crowds to his store which he saw as a meeting place. Norman Rockwell immortalized this famous clock when he drew a picture of it for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on November 3, 1945.

From its downtown Chicago beginnings in 1852, Marshall Field and Company blossomed into one of the most successful and innovative department stores in the country. Marshall Field built a reputation as the country’s most successful merchandiser. His stores were the model for other department stores to emulate.

Marshall Field arrived in Chicago from Massachusetts in 1856 at the age of 22, and he started working as a clerk at Cooley, Wadsworth and Company. Meanwhile Potter Palmer opened Potter’s Dry Goods Store at 137 Lake Street.

The Tiffany Dome is the largest glass mosaic of its kind and it was the first dome built with iridescent glass. This view is from 1917. The late Louis C. Tiffany designed the Tiffany Mosaic Dome, in the South State Street Building, and it contains approximately 1,600,000 pieces. It is one of the largest areas of glass mosaic ever constructed.

In 1865, Levi Leiter and Marshall Field bought an interest in Palmer’s store and it became known as Field, Palmer and Leiter until 1867 when Palmer sold his interest. The store then became known as Field, Leiter and Company. Marshall Field sent his older brother Joseph to Manchester, England to establish a buying office in 1869.

In 1881, Levi Leiter retired and the store became known as Marshall Field and Company. Field continued to lead the company and he became known as the world’s foremost merchant.

Marshall Field took over the store and soon instituted retailing policies that revolutionized the department store world. He would post the price of the goods in plain sight, thus ending a policy of haggling and charging whatever the buyer would pay.

In addition, he would stand behind his merchandise and would gladly refund the full price of any item bought in his store. He immortalized the slogan ”Give the lady what she wants”.

This view shows the Rug Department in 1913.

Wicker was very popular in the Summer Furniture Gallery.

Marshall Field, who died in 1906, would see his company become the largest wholesale and retail dry goods enterprise in the world. Marshall Field’s was the first department store to establish a European buying office, the first to offer in-store dining and the first to offer a bridal registry. In the early 1900’s, annual sales topped $60 million and buying branches were located in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm and Berlin.

Rotunda of the Men’s Grill Room.

The South Grill Room is one of the six Tea and Grill Rooms that occupied the Seventh Floor of the Marshall Field Building.

An early view of the State Street Aisle, which is one block long, from 1925.

Federated Department Stores bought Marshall Field’s and all other stores owned by The May Department Stores Company in 2005. Federated converted all Marshall Field’s stores, as well as most other stores in the May fold, to the Macy’s nameplate on September 7, 2006.

May had purchased Marshall Field’s from the Target Corporation in mid-2004. In 1990, the Target Corporation, formerly the Dayton and Hudson Corporation, bought Marshall Field’s. All Dayton’s and Hudson’s stores were united under the Marshall Field banner several years ago, adding up to 62 stores. For a number of years, Marshall Field’s holdings included the now defunct Frederick & Nelson in Seattle. One of Field’s former salesmen was a young man named Montgomery Ward.

Marshall Fields – A History

Marshall Field & Company will forever be remembered in Chicago shopping history. Um, yes there is such a thing as Chicago shopping history. We may or may not have just made it up, but that’s irrelevant.

I remember going to Marshall Field’s as a kid with my mom, strolling the massive and ornate flagship department store, filled with anything and everything you could ever dream of. Oh the Frango mints! Perhaps the best thing to ever hit the lips. From a young age, I knew Marshall Field’s to be my mother ship, calling me home.

Ok yes my memories of this iconic department store may be slightly hyperbolized, but for many Chicagoans it does represent a bit of nostalgia that no longer exists on Chicago’s famed State Street. At least not in the way it used to.

The seeds for Marshall Field’s department store were planted when Mr. Marshall Field of Massachusetts joined with Chicago retailers Levi Leiter and Potter Palmer. Of course, the company was originally known as Field, Palmer and Leiter, but in 1881 Field became the sole owner and Marshall Field & Company was born.

Construction on the store began in 1892, and on November 26, 1897 the famous Marshall Field’s clock was installed at the corner of Washington and State Streets, calling Chicagoans to what was not only just a shopping center, but a city meeting place.

The company would soon grow to epic proportions, becoming the largest wholesale and retail dry goods enterprise in the world. Field was known for initiating innovative retail practices, which would later become standardized around the world. He posted his prices large and clear, curbing the common practice of haggling and bargaining. Marshall Field’s was also the first department store with dining options inside and the first to offer bridal registry.

When Marshall Field died in 1906, much of the city shut down for the day in his honor, including all of State Street and the Chicago Board of Trade. Following Field’s death, John Shedd (of the Shedd Aquarium) was appointed president of the company and, in accordance with Field’s wishes, he continued with the rebuilding of the State Street store, which had already been set into motion.

The new store opened in September of 1907. It included a Tiffany Ceiling, which is both the first and largest ceiling ever built in favrile glass, containing 1.6 million pieces. It was certainly a sight to marvel at. By 1914 the structure as it stands today was completed under the direction of architect Daniel Burnham, encompassing the entire square block bounded by Washington, State, Wabash, and Randolph. The fancy new additions included a 13-story sky-lit atrium and the fashionable Walnut Room, a place to see and be seen. The holiday window displays were also always a Chicago tradition, attracting Suburban families for a stroll on State Street to view the festive decorations.

In 1929 a Washington-based department store known as Frederick & Nelson was acquired by Marshall Field & Co., and with it came the now famous (and heavenly!) brand of mint chocolate candies, Frango mints. These candies became so closely identified with Marshall Field’s and Chicago that the Field’s candy kitchen at the State Street store eventually began making them in-house.

Though the store was a beloved Chicago staple, Marshall Field & Co. did have an unfortunate history of racism. In the early 20th century, the famed department store made a strong effort to avoid attracting African-Americans as clientele. Black Chicagoans were often denied service, ignored, or even kept to the close-out department in the store’s basement.

On August 30, 2005 the department store giant (and dream-killer) known as Macy’s forever changed the Chicago shopping scene by buying out our beloved Marshall Field’s. If you can believe it, picketers actually stormed the State Street location, demanding that Macy’s leave the Marshall Field’s brand alone. No such luck. The location now boasts the Macy’s big red star and inferior merchandise. However, for those of us who developed an unhealthy obsessed with Frango mints, Macy’s fortunately still carries the brand today in homage to the days of Marshall Field’s.

In the first year after the conversion to Macy’s, the company reported a notable drop in sales. According to the Marshall Field’s fan website (oh, yes there is!), a 2009 survey indicated that 78% of downtown Chicago shoppers still wanted Marshall Fields instead of Macy’s. Probably to their best interest, Macy’s announced at one point that they will no longer attempt to convert old Marshall Field’s lovers into Macy’s shoppers. Instead, they will try to attract new shoppers to their stores in Chicago. Well, fine, Macy’s we don’t want you anyway.

Now, stepping off my soapbox… if you’d like to visit the former Marshall Field’s and *cringe* shop at what is now a Macy’s flagship store, you’ll find it at the corner of Washington Street and State Street in Chicago’s Loop.

Marshall Field & Company State Street Stores

Marshall Field & Company
Life Span: 1905-Present
Location: NE Corner State & Washington
Architect: D. H. Burnham & Co.

Chicago Tribune, July 19, 1891

It is said that Marshall Field has been negotiating for some time with a view to acquiring all that part of the block bounded by Randolph, State, and Washington streets, which he does not already own. It is supposed that the rest of the block is wanted to extend the retail dry-goods business of Marshall Field & Co., now somewhat circumscribed by the walls of the building on the southwest corner of this square. The building occupies about one-quarter of the block. The facts and arguments adduced in support of this story are in substance as follows:

A number of important sales of Wabash avenue and Washington street frontages have been going on recently, the negotiations being conducted quietly and without the aid ostensibly of real-estate brokers. The purchaser s name is not known in one or two of the deals, in another the vender declines to disclose it, and in three cases the purchaser is said by the vendors to be a Boston man of the name of Kramer. One of the sellers thinks the real purchaser is Marshall Field. At any rate property of the value of $565,000 in this locality has changed hands, it is solid, by deed or contract within a few weeks and the transactions have been kept from the public great care.

The block has an entire frontage on the four streets of 1,380 feet, of which Mr. Field controls 765 feet, or a little more than one-half. The building occupied by Marshall Field & Co. has 150 feet on State and 150 on Washington street. North of this stands a forty-foot lot belonging to the estate of Hugh Speer, on which Mr. Field has leases seven or eight years. The adjoining forty feet Mr. Field bought of William E. Hall. Next comes a thirty-foot piece belonging to the Osborn estate. North of this stands Central Music Hall, which occupies 130 feet to the corner of Randolph street, Mr. Field is said to own a controlling interest in tho Central Music Hall property.


Recent Transfers on the Block.
Three years ago Mr. Field began to acquire property on the Washington street frontage, No. 29, with a twenty-four-foot frontage. The late purchases in the block which Mr. Field is assumed to have made are Nos. 21, 27, and 31 Washington street, and No. 71 Wabash avenue, the first three being indicated on the map as Lots Nos. 1, 4, and 6.

No. 73 Wabash is directly south of the alley in the rear of the lots fronting on Randolph street.

No. 31 Washington street was sold recently by Juergons & Anderson, the jewelers. to a Boston purchaser for $165,000, but the Weber Catering company has a ten-year lease, for which they refused $50,000. Mr. Field once offered $100,000 for the property, but the offer was refused.

No. 27 was sold recently by the Campbell estate for $100,000 to the unknown mysterious purchaser, subject to a two years’ lease.

J. F. Lord, tho owner of the pro)erty next east, No. 25, has received an ofter, but says tihe property is not for sale, though he would lease it for ninety-nino years. William Stewart owns No. 23 and it is said not sell. The building occupied by Cobb’s Library stands on the corner of Washington and Wabash. Cuthibert W. Laing recently sold it but declined to name the purchaser. It is subject to a lease having three and a half years yet to run. No. 73 Wabash avenue was sold lately by Mrs. S. A. Whittemore of Washington, D. C., for $100,000.

Holders Not Anxious to Sell.
South of tho property sold lately by Mrs. Whittemore is a 48-foot piece belonging to the Botsford estate, and next to this is 151 feet owned by Mrs. Hetty R. 1R. Green. From Randolph to the first alley south on Wabash avenue there is a frontage of 104 feet by 50 feet on Randolph which is owned by A. S. Trade. Mr. Trude says lie has received good lately for the property, but has made no sale. lie says there is no doubt that somebody is after the property in this vicinity.

Mrs. E. C. Lewis owns the lot west of Mr. Trude’s property on Randolph street and will not sell. In the adjoining three lots, extending to Holden place, belong to the Western News Comupany.

Real estate men generally do not think it at all feasible for Mr. Field to acquire all the rest of the block. They point out the following obstacles which are not easily removed. The owner of No. 25 Washington street and probably the owner of No. 2: do not hold the land for sale. Mrs. Green is to be averse to parting with any valuable real estate in Chicago. ‘l he Bots- ford estate property is said to be so tied up in litigation that it cannot be conveyed for soine time to come. The Western News company is not likely to part with property in so desirable a location, and Mr. Lewis, the owner of the property east of this company, does not wish to sell.

Mr. Field’s object in making the purchases ascribed to him is said to be to cover the whole block with an immense building to be used for the retail business of Marshall Field & Co. But the block is bisected from north to south by Holden place, which is forty feet wide, and this might be some obstacle to the erection of so large a building.

Mr. Field is now in Europe, and one denler said this was a good time to spring such a story. None of his business would talk on the subject. If there is such a deal it is a long way from in the belief of real-estate men generally.

Chicago Tribune, March 10, 1901

Plans have been completed for the twelve-story store building to be erected by Marshall Field, in State street, covering the entire block, 384½ feet from Randolph to Washington street. The cost is to between two $1,500,000 and $2,000,000. D. H. Burnham & Co. are the architects.

Ro allow of this improvement Central Music Hall and the two five-story buildings on the south end of it, used at present by Marshall Field & Co., will be razed after May 1. This ground space is the first section of the big building. It has a frontage of 224 feet in State street and 150½ feet in Randolph. The second section, the present eight-story store at the north-east corner of State and Washington streets, will not be fully constructed for the present. As now proposed, the foundation will be paid and the first two stories remodeled, a new front being put in corresponding to the new structure to the north. Then, whenever the needs of the firm for more space require it, this second section will be completed, finishing the structure from Randolph street to Washington.

The State street and Randolph street fronts for their entire twelve stories are to be of white granite. The Holden place front is to be of white enameled brick and terra cotta. One of the chief distinguishing features of the State street front will be the entrance in the center of the block. This is sixty-five feet in length and rises to the third floor.

In the show windows on the two street fronts the polished plate glass will be the largest sizes ever set in a window frame for store or other building. The eleventh and twelfth stories are made a feature of the design, there being twenty stories are made a feature of the design, there being twenty engaged Ionic columns thirty feet in height supporting the cornice.

The cold storage furrooms will contain 15,000 cubic feet of space. There is a plant provided for cooling purposes, ice water, and manufacturing ice shapes for tearoom uses and decorations.

The entire mass when completed and occupied, will weigh 56,000 tons. All this is carried by 130 concrete caissons penetrating the earth to a depth of ninety feet below street grade.

The superstructure will be held firmly intact by 130 steel columns supported by the caissons. These columns alone weigh 4,500,000 pounds, and they support or carry all walls and floors. There are 10,000,000 pounds of floor beams, being 156,000 feet lineal of “I” beams or thirty miles of them. An order for 8,000 tons of the structure steel was placed early last January.

Chicago Tribune, September 27, 1902

The Inter Ocean, September 30, 1902

The largest retail store in the world, with a floor space of more than twenty-three acres, was too small to accommodate the throngs that crowded into Marshall Field & Co.’s enlarged establishment all day yesterday on the occasion of the formal opening of the new building. The wide aisles, spacious rest rooms, and every part of the great building were packed, and it is estimated that 150,000 persons entered the doors during the day.

Two hundred thousand engraved invitations had been sent out to residents of Chicago, the United States, and every part of the world where civilized garments are worn, and for those not on the mailing list of firm invitations were sent through the columns of the Chicago newspapers.

The store was a mass of brilliant decorations. On the various counters were displayed the treasures of all nations, from the rugs of the Orient and the furs of the arctic regions to the brilliant plumage of tropic birds. So great was the crowd, however, that business was almost suspended, the visitors contenting themselves with examining the mammoth collection of merchandise.

Visitors from Many Towns.
Some visitors came from towns more than a hundred miles from Chicago. They were the dressmakers and milliners of the small towns. They were free to admire and study as long as they wished, the importations valued at fabulous figure, and—if they could— remember the pattern to reproduce it. In New York an admission card is necessary for such inspection. But in Chicago stores everything is for the people, and before a country dressmaker can reproduce a costume the styles have changed and the store has something new.

There were souvenirs for everybody yesterday. It cost $10,000 to furnish them. Five thousand silver spoons with gold bowls, in which was embossed a reproduction of the retail store, disappeared in an hour. As many silver pin trays went almost as quickly. Each department started the day with 1,000 souvenir postcards, and before 3 o’clock they were all gone, and the writing-room began to be cleared of the women who had been as busy as European tourists sending cards to their friends.

But the pictures lasted until the closing hour. There were 100,000 fancy colored pictures, as many steel engravings of the store, and an equal number of bird’s-eye views of Chicago, each done up in a pasteboard tube. Some took one of each, but the supply was not exhausted, and everybody had a souvenir. The street gutters on the east side of State street, from the river to Van Buren street were strewn with empty pasteboard tubes last evening, while in 100,000 Chicago homes there will be one or more colored lithographs.

Store as Great as a City.
The $2,500,000 worth of buildings which shelter these stores are capable of accommodating a city. They have a population in business hours of from 6,700 to 8,000 employes. There are enough electric lights to supply a city the size of Minneapolis or St. Paul. Thirty-five different factories are under their roof, forming part of the great store. Fifty elevators carry passengers and freight. The pumps in the basement each day pump 200 times as much water as is needed for a modern flat building of twenty apartments. The floor area of the retail store is equal to all the space on both sides of State street to the alley from the river to Congress street.

On the seventh floor is a tearoom for women and grillroom, fashioned after the English chop houses, for men. The tearoom daily accommodates 2,000 persons,and is one of the best-paying departments in the store. The north end of the third floor is divided into reading, writing, and rest rooms for men and women. There one may come and write, with the materials which are furnished free, or lounge in the easy chairs and sofas, and read any of the latest magazines or books in attendance. A stenographer’s service is free to those who wish, and a subpostal station, union ticket office, and telegraph office add to the conveniences.

One of the restrooms for women and children is provided with couches and scereens. No talking is allowed in this room, and the tired shopper may come and take a nap or leaver her baby to sleep under the care of the nurse in attendance. The woman’s lavatory, fitted in white marble and porcelain, is furnished even to electric heaters for curling irons, and with weighing and measuring machines.

Great Showroom Arranged.
The fourth floor of the building is the finest equipped showroom in the world. In the fur department there are private showrooms to exhibit the sables and ermines so popular this year. One sable scarf and muff is listed at $4,000. In the garment department,a nd imported coat of chinchilla and real Irish lace can be secured for $2,000, while a coronation gown of white satin and gold lace, with a court train edged with sable, is worth only $1,500.

One of the six orchestras in the building was in the millinery department, and its members were the only men who had the temerity to elbow with the women to look at the display. One of the tables in the cut-glass and china department contained about twenty pieces of cut glass, but their value was $1,000. Another table was covered with china plates worth $350 per dozen.

In 1902, Daniel Burnham’s 13-story Beaux-Arts building went up next door to the Singer Building II at State and Randolph. Its near-identical mate to the south (replacing the second Singer Building) followed in 1907. The original Marshall Field Clock can be seen installed on this building. Another note, no clock was installed on State and Randolph (built in 1902) until the new State and Washington building was completed in 1907. It was at this time that two new clocks were installed on the corners. That has been confirmed by the controversy discussed in the Tribune articles. The original clock remained on the Singer Building II until it was torn down in 1905.

The clocks were designed by Pierce Anderson in 1906 and built by A. E. Coleman Company in 1907.

Marshall Field & Co.’s Stores
Old & New

Marshall Field
Sanborn Fire Map


Chicago Tribune, September 24, 1907

Commissioner of Public Works Hanberg yesterday stopped the erection of two clocks projecting over the sidewalk on the Marshall Field & Co, building. A protest was at once made on the ground that the council had passed permits for them, but the commissioner held that they came under the same head as projecting signs. He also notified Spalding & Co., Lewy Bros. and J. Florsheim to remove their clocks within five days.

Chicago Tribune, September 26, 1907

The decree against public clocks on State street was revoked by Commissioner of Public Works John Hanberg yesterday, following a conference with representatives of Marshall Field & Co. Work on the erection of the clocks had been stopped by Commissioner Hanberg on Monday on the ground that they could only be classed as projecting advertising signs. Representatives of Field & Co. agreed to omit advertising features from their clocks and the work was allowed to proceed.

Marshall Field & Co.
Grand Opening
Chicago Tribune
September 27, 1907
September 28, 1907

Marshall Field & Co.
Grand Opening
Chicago Tribune
September 30, 1907
October 1, 1907

Dry Goods Reporter, March 9, 1912

ANNOUNCEMENT was made the latter part of last week of a real estate deal which will make the premises of Marshall Field & Co. , on State street in this city the largest establishment in the world devoted to the sale of merchandise at retail. This was the acquisition under a long term lease of the Trude Building at the southwest corner of Wabash avenue and Randolph street. This gives to Marshall Field & Co. the control of the entire city block bounded by State, Washington, Randolph streets and Wabash avenue.

When the present Trude building is revamped and made to conform architecturally with the other buildings now occupied by the firm, Marshall Field & Co. retail will occupy a floor area of approximately 2,000,000 square feet or practically FORTY-SIX ACRES of floor space. This exceeds the John Wanamaker, Philadelphia, store by nearly seven acres.

Up to this time the Wanamaker store has had the edge on Marshall Field 8: Co. by several acres of floor space. When the Trude Building is finally incorporated into the Field retail establishment, Chicago will boast without fear of contradiction of the largest store in the world.

The acquisition of the Trude property on Wabash avenue and Randolph street comes as the final realization of a hope which has found expression in almost fifteen years of patient waiting and negotiations, and it has a peculiar interest for the reason that its acquirement will give to this great concern the unique distinction of being the only one to occupy an entire city block, and also the largest area occupied by any strictly retail establishment in the world.

Another interesting feature is the fact that it is the only holding in the entire block which has been acquired by Marshall Field & Co., all the other parcels having been secured by purchase or lease by the late Marshall Field and the Marshall Field estate.

Marshall Field’s & Co.
About 1908

Erected Fifteen Years Ago
The Trude property fronts 104 feet on Wabash avenue and 75 feet on Randolph street and the building is a fourteen story fire proof structure of the highest type of construction. The larger part, comprising the entire frontage on Wabash avenue and fifty feet on Randolph street, was erected about fifteen years ago following the destruction by fire of the old six story building occupied at one time by J. Allen & Co., wholesale grocers. A few years after the erection of the Wabash avenue building Mr. Trude constructed a twenty-five foot addition on Randolph strect following the destruction of the former building by fire.

For the entire holding of 104呇 feet Field & Co. is to pay Mr. Trude an annual rent of $60,000 for a term of ninety-nine years from July, 1911, the time from which the lease dates. Capitalizing this rent on a 4 per cent basis, the rule with central business property, it gives a leasing value of $1,500,000. The recent valuation made upon the property by the board of review is $597,630 for the land and $125,000 for the building, or a total of $722,630.

Marshall Field’s & Co.
Christmas, 1907

$750,000 Building Planned
Under the terms of the lease Field & Co. has the right prior to Aug. 1, 1919, to replace the present building with a high grade fire proof mercantile building to cost not less than $750,000. The new building probably will be thirteen stories high and three stories under ground, and will be a duplication of the building erected a few years ago by the firm to the south on Wabash avenue. It is understood that the Le Moyne property to the west will be improved at this time.

The present plans of Field & Co. in connection with the property are said to contemplate the use and occupancy of the building floor by floor, as they are able to secure possession and allow the leases of tenants with whom they are unable to reach terms to expire.

Would Have Bridge Over Alley
The longest leases, however, have only until 1915 to run, it is said, and arrangements have been made to terminate all of them on the first two floors May 1, 1913. The last one was secured last week, which also revealed the fact that the lease of the entire property by the firm had been closed.

The firm is also said to contemplate building over the ten foot private alley to the south of the Trude building a bridge or conection between it and the building of the firm to the south for the convenience both of the patrons of the store as well as to facilitate the movement of goods.

It is said to have been the desire of the late Marshall Field, and later of Field & Co., to acquire the property in fee simple and not by long term lease, and an offer of $1,500,000 is said to have been standing for the property for several years.

Of much interest also is the statement that another big State street retail concern has been trying to get the property by purchase. The first effort is said to have been made about two years ago when an oFfer of $1,500,000 was made. Within the last few months the offer was made again and when the original proposition met with no favor, Mr. Trude was asked if an additional $100,000 would secure the property. Why the concern in question, which now occupies much more space than this property, sought to acquire it is difiicult to understand, unless possibly to embarrass Field & Co.

All purchase offers were refused, however, by Mr. Trude with the statement that he would consider nothing but a longterm lease of the property, and this was the basis on which terms were finally reached.

The Marshall Field & Co. store, which represents a remarkable mercantile evolution typical of Chicago’s growth into a great city, has a frontage of 384.6 feet on State street. The ground was valued by the board of review at $5,656,434 and the thirteen story building occupying the entire area at $2,424,999, or a total for the State street section of $8,081,433

The Wabash avenue frontage is practically the same, less the ten foot alley to the south of the Trude building. The south 112 feet is improved with a nine and a half story building, while the 158 feet to the north has a thirteen story structure similar to the one on State street. The board of review valuation on these, with the improvements, is $3,734,571, and with the Trude property $4,457,201.

Value of Property $18,000,000
What is known as the Le Moyne property, 75.8 feet in Randolph street at the southeast corner of Holden court, with a depth of 104 feet, which belongs to the Marshall Field estate, has old six story improvements, and was valued by the board of review at $398,000. Adding this to the other properties gives a total valuation of $12,937,078 now held for the use of Field & Co.

As the board of review valuations are generally considerably below the market value of the properties covered, it is thought the value of the ground and buildings within this block will easily reach a total of $15,000,000, if not $18,000,000.

Marshall Field’s & Co.
About 1910



MR. FIELD came to Chicago in 1856. He was employed in the wholesale dry goods house of Cooley, Wadsworth & Co. In four years the clerk had a working interest in the firm, and he thus continued for a year or two, another clerk being Levi Z. Leiter. The firm meanwhile became Cooley, Farwell & Co.

In 1862 Potter Palmer was conducting another store in Lake Street, the largest merchandise business in the Northwest, and his health had been broken temporarily. Mr. Palmer conferred with Mr. Field and Mr. Leiter and they bought his interest in the business.

The connection between the three men did not end, however, for i11 1865 Mr. Palmer built a big store building at Vashington and State Streets and the other two merchants rented it from him.

The Field-Leiter partnership remained intact until 1881, when Mr. Field and his own partners became owners.

At the time of the fire in 1871 the Field house did a business of $8,000,000 a year. The property destroyed by the conflagration was valued at $3,500,000. The insurance collected amounted to $2,500,000, which meant a loss to the firm of an even million.

With this tremendous loss the characteristic energy of the firm did not flag. While the firemen were still at work on the smoldering ruins, temporary quarters were taken at State and Twentieth Streets, and the rebuilding on the old site was begun. This building was completed in 1873, and the business at that time was divided, the wholesale department being established in another building
which had been erected at Market and Madison Streets. This wholesale structure had been occupied in 1872, and in it a retail branch known as “Retail No. 2” had been installed for the convenience West and North Side customers.

Nov. 14, 1877, the store was again burned to the ground. Temporary quarters were taken in the Exposition Building on Michigan Avenue, at the foot of Adams Street the present site of the Art Institute. From this “grand dry goods emporium, two blocks long,” the retail store was moved, in March, 1878, to St. Mary’s Block, 141-149 Wabash Avenue, and in the following year returned to the site on which the house now stands.

In less than twelve years the rapid growth of the wholesale business of the house made it necessary to acquire additional space, and the entire block bounded by Fifth Avenue, Adams, Franklin and Quincy streets was purchased. In 1887 the magnificent structure now occupied by the Field wholesale department was completed.

In the year following the five-story building in State Street just north of the Field store was acquired. In 1892-3 the “annex,” a nine-story building, was erected at Wabash Avenue and Washington Street, and in a short time three buildings just north of the annex were purchased. In 1897 two stories were added to the original structure at State and Washington Streets.

In 1901 the two buildings on the State Street side, just north of the corner building, together with the Central Music Hall building at State and Randolph Streets, were torn down to make room for a twelve-story structure of-granite and steel. This handsome building was occupied in 1902 and in 1904-5 the building adjoining the annex on the north was razed and the work of constructing a second twelve-story granite building was be gun.

In January, 1906, work of erecting the south section of State Street store at State and Washington Streets, was begun.

These two new sections—in Wabash Avenue and at the corner of State and Washington Streets—added to the remainder of the structure, gave the Field retail store its present total floor area of 1,500,000 square feet, or about thirty-four and one-half acres.

The new structure which is intended to be erected in the block will add approximately 500,000 square feet to the present area, making a total for the entire premises of about 2,000,000 square feet which will make the new Field store by far the largest retail establishment in the world.

In all its establishments, Marshall Field & Company employ more than 25,000 persons. In the retail store the number of employes fluctuates, according to the season of the year, from 8,000 to 12,000. In the wholesale establishments and the storehouses the number is about 4,000, in the factories employment is given to more than 10,000, and the remainder are employed in the foreign offices.

Marshall Field - History

[This message has been edited by taloncrest (edited 03-12-2006).]

quote: Chicago institution promoted field
Chicago Sun-Times, Oct 2, 2002 by Darcy Evon

Marshall Field & Co. traces its roots to 1852, when Potter Palmer opened a store that would later become the stalwart institution deeply intertwined with Chicago history.

As Field's marks its 150th anniversary this week, one little- known aspect of its history from 1880 to 1920 deserves special mention, because the store was in the vanguard of the American Arts and Crafts Movement--an artistic impetus that centered on the hand- wrought manufacture of jewelry and objects to beautify the home.

As early as 1878, Mrs. Potter Palmer promoted handmade objects made by women as a means of celebrating art and opening new careers for women. By the turn of the century, Hull House was offering Arts and Crafts metalwork instruction, and artisans were beginning to organize shops and special exhibitions to sell their wares.

Marshall Field & Co. exerted a significant impact on the movement by emphasizing the connection between hand-wrought jewelry and home accessories, demonstrating how seemingly mundane objects such as desk blotters, inkwells and napkin rings can be as elegant as jewelry in the hands of the right craftsmen and women.

By 1903, Field's management established one of the first commercial arts and crafts enterprises in the city. George H. Dufour, an Oak Park resident, organized the Craft Shop in the Field's annex at 25 E. Washington, producing jewelry and silver. In a 1975 letter to the Chicago Historical Society, a Field's executive, Arnold Mason, recalled Dufour as "a jeweler, silversmith and all-around mechanic."

As Craft Shop items soared in popularity, it expanded to employ dozens of men and women, and Dufour moved onto the 10th floor of the State Street building.

Field's institutionalized Arts and Crafts in its retail infrastructure by creating The Kenilworth Gift Shop, which it called "a store within a store."

Actually, Kenilworth was a wholesale enterprise that helped take Chicago's indigenous and distinctive art objects nationwide by selling to other retailers. Craftsmen in Field's Craft Shop produced delightful jewelry and hand-wrought articles in copper, brass, bronze and silver. They introduced an extremely popular Colonial sterling silver pattern that reinforced the fierce independence and Americanism of the movement.

One anonymous writer in 1908 noted, "The distinguishing quality of the Marshall Field and Company Craft Shop is coordinated individualism of production which is artistic and desirable because there is crystallized in each separate article the fine personal impulse of the craftsman."

At times, the demand for hand-wrought silver was so great that Field's commissioned pieces to local master craft workers such as Julius Randahl, a Swedish silversmith who had one of the leading shops in Park Ridge and Chicago.

In 1885, Isadore V. Friedman, a Russian Jewish immigrant born in Kiev, came to Chicago with his family. He later joined the many talented artisans and entrepreneurs who worked in the Craft Shop at the State Street store. Friedman, who later taught metal shop classes at Hull House on the South Side, handcrafted beautiful jewelry and silver items that were selected to be exhibited in the prestigious Annual Applied Arts Exhibits (1902-1923) at the Art Institute of Chicago. He went on to work with many of the major Chicago silversmiths and in his own business.

And thanks to Field's Craft Shop, Ernest Gerlach developed the skills necessary to land a position with the Tre-O Shop in Evanston, an important Arts and Crafts studio founded by Clara Flinn and Hope McMaster in 1908. It was there he met a talented designer and metalsmith, Margery Woodworth, and the two of them launched the Cellini Shop in Evanston around 1914.

The Cellini Shop, named for the fabled Italian silversmith, became so well known for its original designs and use of new materials in handwrought tableware that it thrived well into the 1960s when it merged with the Randahl Shop, later sold to Reed & Barton, and fell into obscurity.

Lucky collectors can often find arts and crafts brooches, bracelets, fobs, desk sets, silver flatware, tea sets, trays and cutlery made by Marshall Field & Co Craft Shop in antique shops, galleries and at eBay.

Darcy Evon is a trade magazine publisher, Sun-Times high-tech columnist and a local arts and crafts expert who is working on a new and updated book about Chicago jewelers and metal workers. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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Watch the video: Marshall Fields Department Store - Life in America (May 2022).