D. B. Fisk & Company (Hotel Monaco)

It’s not obvious the structure at Wabash Avenue and East Wacker Place has been there for more than a hundred years. Hotel Monaco looks like a mid-century creation, with a sheer, modern face that doesn’t have any of those flourishes and frills one expects from something built in the early 1900s. But two things give it away. One, it’s a mere mite of a highrise by Chicago standards. The second indication is almost hidden: around the corner on the east side of the building, way up at the top of the exposed brick, is a ghost sign: D. B. Fisk & Co.

Founded by David Brainerd Fisk shortly after he moved to Chicago, D. B. Fisk & Co. would quickly become the milliner for the west. That’s because it was the only milliner for the west. David, who was a ripe old thirty-five years, brought his wife, Lydia, and their three children from Upton, Massachusetts to start fresh in 1853. He’d worked in his father’s general store and as the town postmaster before deciding to take his chances in the exploding town. He would become one of the city’s wealthy, but he didn’t follow the route of many of his fellow entrepreneurs: instead of opening a dry goods store, joining the railroad boom, or investing in real estate, David opened a wholesale millinery. Ladies, even in rough-and-tumble mercenary Chicago, needed hats. This was especially important during a time when hair-washing was a monthly activity.

Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Completed: 1912
Architect: George L. Harvey
Address: 225 N. Wabash Ave.

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Sources for D. B. Fisk & Company (Hotel Monaco)

This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.

  • The American Angler. New York: [The Angler’s Publishing Company], Vol. 3 – 4 1883.
  • Andreas, A. T. (Alfred Theodore), 1839-1900. History of Chicago: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time. Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884-1886.
  • Colbert, Elias, b. 1831, and Everett Chamberlin. Chicago And the Great Conflagration. New York: Viking Press, 1871.
  • Culver, Annie. “Hatitude, Thanks to Grandpa.” 3rd Act Magazine, Fall 2018.
  • Currey, J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour), 1844-1928. Chicago: Its History And Its Builders: a Century of Marvelous Growth. Chicago: The S. J. Clark publishing company, 1912.
  • Harper’s Bazaar. [New York: Hearst Corp.], 25 Mar 1871.
  • Historical Publishing Company. Origin, Growth, And Usefulness of the Chicago Board of Trade: Its Leading Members, And Representative Business Men In Other Branches of Trade. New York: Historical Publishing Co., 1885-86.
  • Illinois Asylum for Feeble-minded Children, and Ill.) Lincoln State School and Colony (Lincoln. Biennial Report of the Trustees, Superintendent And Treasurer of the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-minded Children. Springfield [Ill.]: D.W. Lusk, State Printer and Binder, 1876.
  • Illinois Woman’s Exposition Board. Official Catalogue of the Illinois Woman’s Exposition Board. Chicago: W.B. Conkey Co., 1893.
  • The Illustrated Milliner. New York, N.Y.: The Illustrated Milliner Co., v. 14 (1913).
  • Millinery Trade Review. New York: Marriotte & Co., July – Dec 1905.