of the Schlesinger & Mayer Department Store
(the individuals who hired Sullivan & Adler)
by Thomas Yanul - Feb.2005

In the hundreds and hundreds of webpages found when searching for Louis Sullivan or the Carson Pirie Scott Department Store, usually for historic architectural interest, one invariably runs across the name "Schlesinger & Mayer", the name of the store prior to its becoming Carson Pirie Scott & Co. It is kind of point of reference in most sites, to show where the store originated, but nowhere is there any information (least that I could find) that tells me who Schlesinger and Mayer were.  That became the simple challenge, and the reason for this webpage.  This basic data on these two gentleman of Chicago's historic 19th & 20th Centuries past are certainly worthy of a small mention as to who they were in the barest of essentials. Someone may find it interesting just for itself, or possibly useful for some other purpose. The following will are the basic facts as found, mostly in my own library of reference books, and on the internet as pertains to census data and other people who were associated with the change from Schlesinger & Mayer to Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Its an interesting little piece that seems to have been overlooked in everything that I have seen.

So it must be kept in mind, it was these two men who actually hired Louis Sullivan & Dankmar Adler to design the first structure and not Carson Pirie Scott & Co. A fact that seems to have been often overlooked in general history
DAVID MAYER: Aug.10, 1851 to Mar 14, 1920.
LEOPOLD SCHLESINGER: Sept 26, 1842 to Mar 15, 1914.

From: 1905 Book of Chicagoans

Mayer, David. retired merchant; born Germany 1851. Came with parents to America
when an infant; educated public schools of Chicago. Began as dry goods clerk when
mere boy. Became partner with Leopold Schlesinger in February 1872, establishing
dry goods business as Schlesinger & Mayer, corner Madison & DesPlaines Sts.  Later had  branch store at Peoria and Madison Sts. In April 1881 removed to the southeast corner of Madison & State Sts. Firm was later incorporated and became Vice-president of the company. Business was sold to a syndicate headed by Henry Siegel and Harry G. Selfridge, 1894. Clubs-Union League, Standard, Chicago Athletic,
Washington Park. Residence 4706 Woodlawn Av.
1911 Book of Chicagoans (listing info not included above)
"Merchant, real estate operator. Self-educated. Married 1893 Florence Blum of New York. Children-David Jr., Herbert, Richard, Marjorie. "later became President of company".  Business of Schlesinger and Mayer sold 1904 to a syndicate headed by Henry Siegel, and later resold it to Harry G. Selfridge. Now engaged in real estate business. (additional clubs as member) Illinois Athletic Club, North Shore Country, Ravisloe, Press.  Recreations-travel, literature. Residence 4445 Woodlawn Av.. Office Corn Exchange Bank Bldg.
1917 Book of Chicagoans (only different info from above )
Home: 4242 Clarendon.. Ofc-27 E. Monroe.

LEOPOLD SCHLESINGER: Sept 26, 1842 to Mar 15, 1914.

1905 The Book of Chicagoans

Schlesinger, Leopold, retired merchant. Born Germany, 1842; educated  school and college, Germany.  Came to Chicago 1862, married Chicago Jan 1873, Henrietta Mayer.[NOTE-this was partner David Mayer's sister]  children- 2 sons & 4 daughters. Began business life as office man in wholesale house for 8 years. In 1872, just after great fire, became associated with David Mayer under firm name of Schlesinger & Mayer, in the retail dry goods trade, on West Madison St. Moved in 1881 to the Southeast corner of State & Madison sts. and when business was incorporated became president of the company, built up a great business, several times enlarging the premises, and continued until August 1902 when he (Schlesinger) sold out his interest to a syndicate headed by Mr. Henry Siegel.. Clubs - Union League, Standard. Residence-2805 Michigan Av.
1911 The Book of Chicagoans. (info not included above)
Schlesinger, Leopold,. Born Germany Sept.26, 1842. Sold out his interest to a syndicate headed by Mr. Henry Siegel, 1902. Since then looking out after his private affairs. Director, Jewish Manual Training School. Mason, (32 degree). Residence (same as above) , office Corn Exchange Bank Bldg.