December 10, 2011

Divas & Demons

Residents of Interest
This post is about the lives of three interesting residents of Lake ViewThese seven earned the attention of the press and my research for the theatrical drama that surrounded them. I learned most of the information of these three while rifling through and reading articles from the Chicago Public Library - Newspaper online section, in particular, the Chicago Tribune newspaper articles that includes the old Chicago Daily News. 
These three folks, Albert Fuch, William Hale Thompson, and Anges Peele resided in Lake View. All managed to create moments of interesting theatrical antics as well as exciting, emotional, and unexpected series of moments or in a word - dramaI thought I would share their moments with you. We begin with Deva I ...
Deva #1
Albert Fuchs ... & Family
Albert Fuchs was a florist who owned several greenhouses in Lake View in the late 19th century to be parleyed from greenhouses to the construction of a theater and flats (apts). Albert Fuch story involves an abused wife, property holdings, greenhouses, planned developments, theater, a 
life-savings donation to cancer research, patriotism questioned during World War I, and congressional goldfishes. He was a proud German-born U.S citizen who did not believe the negative press of his former countrymen when published in the press during the first world war years. So vermin the anti-German attitudes in Chicago at the time that it would force one of his sons to petition a name change to from Fuchs to Fox. The press would love to publish newspaper articles about Albert Fuchs and family. He and his family moved to California by 1920 but keep financial ties to his old neighborhood. 
His fortune began with some greenhouses ....
 A greenhouse near Addison on Evanston (Broadway) Avenue per this 1894 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
A greenhouse near Grace & Halsted Street 
per this 1894 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
Read more about the importance of green/hot houses during this era in my post called Hothouses & Clay Pits.
Let’s begin this tale with his pianist wife and the domestic abuse charges against him in 1895.
1895  Charges of abuse from wife for forcing her to be painted by her husband in 'live picture' or in the nude.
Mrs. Fuchs files for divorce 
with new charges against her husband 1913  

Mr. Fuchs sues his tenant, a congressman, 
for rent for not accepting his goldfish.

Their home - The Chateau Apartments
Mr. Fuchs began to parley his property 1922 
The SRO called the Chateau Hotel was originally called the 
old Broadway Flats (apartments)
1917  The First World War (1914-18) was in its third year and 5th month for the United States. Mr. Fuchs was German-born but a citizen of the United States. He refused to believe some of the negative propaganda published in the newspapers at the time. Anti-German sentiment began in 1915 when the Imperial German Navy sunk a ship in the Atlantic. 
Mr. Fuch made an offer in the newspapers that did not 'sit well' with some non-Germans and probably fell to deaf ears to German-borns who feared 'guilt of association'.
Sept 22 1917
Contribution to the Enemy
Sept. 25, 1917
The Press Keeps Tabs on Him
In 1918 Mr. Fuchs' son thought it would be wise to change his last name, much like the British royal family did, from Fuchs to Fox. It caused a family stir according to this article below. The war would end six months later.
1921  Mr. Fuchs moves to California. This article is a comprehensive view of his business deals at the time and his properties. 
Mr. Fuchs Holdings 
per this 1923 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map 
showing The Broadway Apartments & the Chateau Theater
The Chateau Apartments were located just north of Grace Street along what was then the continuation of Halsted Street  
the interior of the Chateau Theater that was across the street from the popular Bismarck Gardens (Facebook album)
Mr. Fuchs moved 1922  
but he still owned the property
His 'planned development' was never completely realized - leaving the Broadway Hotel (Chateau) the only potion to be completed.
 Mr. Fuch plans to donate his fortune to a 
research facility in memory of his late wife 1928
Deva #2
Mayor ‘Bill Bill’ William Hale Thompson
Legend has it that a Republican mayor of Chicago practiced a debate with a rat – yes, his political opponent was
role-played as a live rodent. 
He was a mayor during the era of the first World War and prohibition. He would ‘blinded himself ’ to the likes of 
Al Capone while supporting the first black alderman of Chicago. He associated with a speakeasy in Belmont Yacht Harbor during the days of illegal drinking and issued negative comments about the British royal family during the first war. He was a three termed mayor who lived on Sheridan Road & Belmont Avenue across the street to a early harbor view. 
Big Bill owned a vessel called the Valmore that was keep near his residence in Belmont Harbor. He used this schooner to enter in the 1908 Race to Mackinac - he lost.

postcard postmarked 1912 - Ebay
voting in 1916 in the then 23th ward polling station near his home near Lockby Apartments - northeast corner of Belmont and Sheridan Road (inner LSD)
Bill Thompson was a non-traditionalist from the get-go. Here are some tipbits: In 1915 Big Bill Thompson thought about entering presidential politics. Some say he used the 'negro' race riots of 1919 to feather his own political ambitions while at the same token supported the first 'negro' alderman to the city council, Oscar De Priest. In 1920 he filed a suit in behalf of the city the two major newspapers at the time. He had a political war with the Chicago Tribune chief editor Colonel Robert McCormick. He claimed he was a promoter women's suffrage
He played a 'blind eye' during the Prohibition era. And finally, read about this 1921 article about the mood of the city when he was first elected mayor.
William Hale Thompson Chicago Mayor, Sheet Music 1928
"Big Bill the Builder"
image - Ebay
Voting day 1936
mayor at a polling place on 3125 N Broadway 
Jim Jasiota, Forgotten Chicago on Facebook 
His residence was located at the northwest corner of Sheridan Road and Belmont Avenue
Lochby Apartments 1911-65
1923 Sanborn Fire Map highlights the space
Lochby Court was built in 1911 for $186,000. It won a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects in 1912 as "best designed building of the year." This three-story building had 32 apartments with "butler's pantries and large living rooms with wood burning fireplaces.
published 1954
images from book above/from my personal collection
The Fish Story
The man was meant for contradictions. The most interesting contradiction was this speakeasy he was apparently known to patronize during the prohibition years 1919-1933. The speakeasy was located across the street from his residence in Belmont (Yacht) Harbor. This speakeasy was a boathouse and private club for men only that I explore with the help of the Chicago Public Library card and the Chicago Tribune.
Catching fish in Belmont Yacht Harbor as mayor
I could include volumes of articles about this man but will only devoted this post to his relationship with a speakeasy or club house called The Fish Club.
The Fish Club as it appeared in 1925
1926  This Fish Club Court Battle
1927  The mayor wins his third term after losing four years ago to a reformer - right photo

1928 August 
The speakeasy is to be removed from the harbor
1926 September 3
Interesting enough the club house sinks but for the second time. The first sinking occurred the during an election night with the boys.
1928  September 6
  An auction to liquid the clubs' contents
image - Chicagoan Magazine
1928 image - Chicagoan
The Many Faces of the Mayor
Mayor's office 1916
Chicago History Museum via Explore Chicago
 Dedication Day (Memorial Day) 
with the then Governor Dunne
Chicago History Museum via Explore Chicago
a photo op with tribal representatives
 Chicago History Museum via Explore Chicago
photo op in a biplane 1926 
Chicago History Museum via Explore Chicago
playing the cowboy 1920
Chicago History Museum via Explore Chicago

Frankie Gibson, left, Mayor William "Big Bill" Thompson, center, and Buck Spencer, right, put on a show for alderman in the legislative hall in Chicago as a Native American holds Spencer's horse in 1931.- Chicago Tribune historical photo
opening day at Wrigley Field 1915
He apparently tried to establish some sorta political 
philosophic type of governance
images from Ebay 

Deva #3
Anges Peele of Stratford Place
(page 2 of the August 6th article)
Mrs. Peele was a criminal in the 'eyes' of the Cook County courts by 1943 for the ill-treatment of elderly and apparently mental ill clients that was housed together on a quiet street in Lake View. 
She began her life of fraud in 1941 when she defraud the State of Illinois on pensions of the elderly. Apparently, she managed in 1938 to convince an elderly woman to convert her home into residence for the mentally ill not owned by her. 
By 1943 the courts and Illinois government officials got involved in correcting this apparent abuse of a seniors/mental ill in the house that she managed as a business, a business without a license and at the same time defaulting the State their financial due. This abuse or neglect of seniors/mentally ill along with the lack of payment to the State prompted the State of Illinois to strictly regulated businesses of this type. This person is note-worthy to me not only because her operation of sorts was on my block of Stratford Place in Lake View but this event helped shape the direction (in a small way) to better conditions in the State for the mentally ill. 
Let’s begin this story that caught the 'eye' of the press with an article published by the Chicago Tribune in 1941.
1941 Pension fraud alleged
1943 July 31 
 The first and failed inspection 
page 1
 page 2
1943 August 6  
The city gets involved
1943 August 11  
Mrs. Peele is found guilty and fined
1943 August 13
 More information about Mrs. Peele and her clients
1943 August 14
  State of Illinois legislator gets involved
1943 August 21
 The second inspection by the courts
1943 August 24
  A 30 day notice to improve conditions or else
1943 August 28
Found guilty & fined
1943 September 16
 Mrs Peele drops battle to have a business license 
so closed her business
By the end of this court case Social Security benefits and the laws protecting pensioners were a enforced. The Social Security Act of 1935 suffered through with two Supreme Court decisions that last two years before the law was 'law of the land' but would lack all the regulator protective powers it was ideally meant to have for states to enforce. Pensioners were now flush with cash benefits and became an easy prey to the folks who gamed the system. Historical public housing for mentally-ill citizens has always been an issue particularly housing options outside the normal confines of an asylum or state mental hospitals. By the 1960's and 70's institutionalization of the mental-ill meant depopulation of asylums and state hospitals without any official housing options for those free to reenter their communities most often to become homeless - with all the complexities that living without permanent shelter, food, family support, and professional guidance had to offer. By late 1980's question of homeless was to begin to become an important national issue that still plagues the nation today.
I may sure that there were more Divas and Demons in old Lake View but these I thought were interesting enough to post.

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