Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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  (North is oriented to the right) Image Credit:  David Rumsey Map Collection - Blanchards 1906 Map Stromberg-Voisinet was formed in late 19...

Stromberg-Voisinet's Factory Location

 

(North is oriented to the right)
Image Credit: David Rumsey Map Collection - Blanchards 1906 Map

Stromberg-Voisinet was formed in late 1921 and began with their headquarters at 3406 Greenview Avenue in Chicago, Illinois [3]. Evidently this wasn't enough space because they had moved to the second floor of 312 Union Park Court before the end of 1922 [1]. They signed an initial lease at the location for 5 years at a price of $12,000. By 1929 their location was listed as 316 Union Park Court and I suspect they were renting the entire building at that point. Stromberg-Voisinet would continue to occupy that location until the company, then the Kay Musical Instrument Co, would move to Walnut Street in the mid 1930s [4]

Finding the Factory

Union Park Court no longer exists and finding the previous street name isn't quite a simple Google search away. Thanks to the Chicago Historic Society, Library of Congress, and various historic architecture websites I managed to start to piece together our modern maps with the maps at the time Stromberg-Voisinet was formed. 


Union Park Court ceased to be by at earliest 1937 and became North Laflin Street while it's parallel St. John became North Justine Street [5][6]. Union Park Ct. covered two to three blocks of industrial buildings and so I had to locate which building would've housed the factory. The street numbers are inconsistent so I wasn't going to take them at face value but instead try to determine where this factory would've sat. Most old city maps don't show individual building numbers and will sometimes have note block numbers but that wasn't the case here.

Fire Insurance Maps

In comes the Sanborn Map Company which spent nearly 50 years creating a detailed map of every block in Chicago. They passed through Union Park Court in 1916 so I wouldn't get to see what the factory looked like during S-V's time. Thankfully the Chicago Public Library has compiled an index of the Sanborn Map volumes and what streets they encompassed. Volume 6, published in 1916, covered the areas north of Madison Street between Halsted Street and Western Avenue.

Lot bordered by Carroll avenue to the North and Fulton to the South
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Vol. 6, 1916 
Image Credit: Library of Congress

Zoomed version of the above screenshot

We can see '312' and '316' on the right hand side of the building which denotes the street number. This is the Stromberg-Voisinet factory five years before the company began. After locating a key to Sanborn maps, I could then determine what the building was. 'All 6' meant the building had 6 floors and 'A.S' in a circle meant the building had an automatic sprinkler system. The building did have electric power as well as a brick enclosed elevator in the south west corner. 

1938 Aerial Survey of the block
316 Union Park Ct is the tall building casting a shadow over it's neighbor
Image Credit: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois


The Factory

Lucky us, 316 Union Park Court actually translates into the modern world as 316 N Laflin Street and the original building is still standing. It was renovated in the past 15 years.

S-V Factory Pre-Renovation - 2006
Image Credit: Cook County Treasurer

Stromberg-Voisinet Factory - Present Day
Image Credit: LoopNet.com

A drone pilot recorded a video in 2018 of the renovated structure



Sources

[1] https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Economist/ykZOAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=stromberg+voisinet&pg=PA804&printsec=frontcover
[2] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1931-90-3/40/
[3] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1922-74-10/31/
[4] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Certified_List_of_Domestic_and_Foreign_C/uiD4HH-e8PgC?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=%22kay+musical+instrument%22+company&dq=%22kay+musical+instrument%22+company&printsec=frontcover
[5] http://chsmedia.org/househistory/nameChanges/start.pdf
[6] https://collections.lib.uwm.edu/digital/collection/agdm/id/22822/rec/123