Tuesday, June 7, 2011



Lucius Fisher's father visited Chicago in 1837, where he found corn (of the small yellow variety) growing on State Street between Washington Street and Lake Street and decided that the place had little future.  He took his new wife (a distant relative of Marshall Field)  to Beloit Wisconsin to settle, raise a family  and become successful.  In 1866 he changed his mind and returned to Chicago. 


Lucius was born in Beloit on November 27, 1843. He passed the entrance exam to Beloit College, but instead headed west to Colorado during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush.  He returned "across the plains" in a wagon pulled by a six yoke of oxen. (I wonder how often the Grandkids heard THAT story.)  He then headed east to New York City where in 1863 enlisted in the Union Army, fighting in the Shenendoah Valley.  In 1866 he, too, moved to Chicago.

His first job in Chicago was with the Rock River Paper Company.  Shortly after he bought a controlling interest in the Wheeler and Hinman Paper Company which he renamed Union Bag and Paper. In 1870 he married Katherine Louise Eddy.  And from this point on, Lucius' success  was nothing less than meteoric.  Katherine's brother, Alfred D.  became general counsel to the Standard Oil Company.  And Lucius' aquisitions in the "Bag Business" paralleled the acquisitions in  "Oil Business."

Eventually Lucius was worth some $27,000,000.00 (that's in 1900's value) owning 18 paper mills, vast areas of timber, and several pulp mills.  In the mid 1880's he invested heavily in Chicago Real Estate.

This is the man who came to Daniel Burnham in 1895 with the commission for the Fisher Building, which would be the headquarters of Union Bag and Paper Company.

Burnham's life experience was much like his client's (less the Civil War experience): missing college, an adventure out west, an advantageous marriage, and a successful career beyond all expectations.  Fisher's journey of expansion and consolidation had taken him from Rock River to the Union Bag, Burnham's would cover Union Stockyards to Union Station.
Lucius Fisher did enjoy his architecture.  In 1900 he bought the Nickerson Mansion.  And each night, after a day at the Fisher Building, he came home to THIS.

Union Bag and Paper Company merged with Camp Manufacturing in 1956 to form Union Camp.  The Union Camp was acquired by International Paper in 1999.

Although the flat bottomed paper bag was invented by a man, Ms.Margret Knight in 1870 invented the  device to cut, fold and paste paper bag bottoms
The cherub-like sculptures on the south face of the Fisher Building are often referred to as "The Fisher Twins"  Lucius did not have twins, and his son was 18 at the time of construction.  So THAT mystery remains unsolved.


The charming and informed Door Person at the Fisher Building told me that, not so long ago, two cabs filled with "Fishers" arrived unannounced  at the Building, posed for a family portrait, and left.....  Wouldn't I like a copy of THAT photo.



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