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Wicks' Bee Hive

From Bloomingpedia

Wicks' Bee Hive was a Downtown dry goods store. It opened in the 19th century and moved to the north side of The Square in 1891, on ground formerly occupied by the Cole Livery Stable.

It was originally housed in the W. J. Allen room on the north side of the square. After moving out, that room was rented by Hemp Wilson who started a furniture store.

The Republican Progress described Wicks' new building like this:

The foundations of the building are placed on a ledge of solid rock from which many carloads of fine limestone had been quarried in order to sink the cellar to a proper depth, and on this solid foundation is erected the three-story structure that is now the magnificent and luxurious home of the "Bee Hive" dry good store.

The cellar or underground room, which occupies the entire depth and width of the building, is lighted by the usual glass and iron grating found in use in Chicago buildings, and it is here that the furnace is located, the packing done, and it may be that in time the cheap or bargain counters will be located in the basement. The next floor is the main storerooms reached from the street by a broad stone pavement. Immense sheets of plate glass, eight foot square, light the room, and the show windows will alone hold a stock of goods sufficient to fill the shelves of an ordinary store. Convenience has been studied in the inside arrangements and general details of the storeroom, and instead of the old-fashioned, long counters, short but broad ones have been constructed that are convenient, neat and attractive. The automatic money carriers are an improvement over the old ones and are placed conveniently near each salesman.

At the rear, on each side of the broad stairway that leads to the second floor, is located the shoe department with shelves that extend to the ceiling, and that are reached by a rolling ladder. Beneath this stairway and directly under the landing that is placed halfway, is located an elegant cloak room to which lady customers may retire when trying on cloaks or wraps. A cloak room is also located in the northeast corner of the second story. Every device that will assist the employees and expedite work, in order that fewer hands may accomplish more and do the work better, has been resorted to.

The handsome, broad stairway that leads to the second story is built with a landing halfway up, and a convenient settee invites one to stop and rest before finishing the ascent. Reaching the second story, the visitor is ushered into an immense room lighted with plate glass windows in front while an extensive and handsomely constructed skylight of modern pattern sheds its mellow rays from above. On deep shelves and broad tables in this room are piled domestics, carpets, oilcloths, window shades and house furnishing goods in unlimited quantities. Goods are seen up here in the same profusion that one remarks in a city wholesale house, where calicoes, domestics and dress goods are handled like cord wood, and a faint idea of the business done by this house may thus be gotten.

On the second floor is Mr. Wicks' private room, handsomely papered and frescoed and cozy and homelike as it ought to be for the head man of so perfect an establishment. The office room and cashier's desk below are models of neatness and convenience, and nothing seems to have been omitted in the many details that are necessary to make a perfect whole.