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US: 13 of 70

Successors to BROWN BROTHERS

"Sole Manufacturers of Hyatt's Patent Prismatic Cement and Lead Band Sidewalk Lights and Vault Lights, Floor Lights, Sky Lights, and Vessels' Deck Lights."

Edwin Lee Brown portrait
Edwin Lee Brown

Brown Brothers Sidewalk & Vault Lights Broadsheet · ca.1870
ca.1870 Broadsheet
Library of Congress

Brown Brothers Sidewalk & Vault Lights Broadsheet · 1880
1880 Broadsheet

Brown Brothers logo · 1885
Logo from 1885 postal cover

Brown Brothers logo · 1894
Logo from 1894 letter

Sidewalk Lights
Sidewalk Lights
Brown Bros Mfg Co
Chicago, 1900, 48p
Rakow Research Library,
Corning Museum of Glass
~6MB: pdf

Brown Brothers ad · 1901
Inland Architect
and News Record
· 1901


  • N. W. Corner of Clinton and West Jackson Sts., Chicago, Illinois
  • 224 & 226 Monroe St.
  • 22nd & Campbell Ave (1905)


  • Business established in Chicago 1858
  • "Sidewalk Light Dept, Established 1860 · Brown Bros Mfg Co. · Sidewalk & Vault Lights · Coal Hole Covers & Rings · Ash Pit Doors, &c. SEWER BUILDERS SUPPLIES KEPT IN STOCK"
  • "Brown Brothers, (F. B. and Edwin Lee,) manufacturers' agents Hyatt's Patent Sidewalk and Vault Lights, and sole western manufacturers of Metallic Pattern Letters, 46 River, up stairs" —1867 Balley's City Directory for Chicago
  • "BROWN BROTHERS' VAULT-LIGHT MANUFACTORY: Edwin Lee Brown, Proprietor; northwest corner of South Clinton and West Jackson streets. Established in 1869; number of employees, 75 to 85; weekly pay-roll, $1,000; value of annual production, $250,000 to $300,000. These works are exclusively for the manufacture of Hyatt's Patent Lead Band and Cement Sidewalk Lights, Vault Lights, Floor Lights, Roof Lights, and Vessels' Deck Lights, and are the most extensive of the kind in the world. During the year 1872 this firm used in their manufacture 750 tons of iron, 100 tons of glass, 50 tons of lead and 5 tons of sulphur. They paid out for pattern-making alone, during that year, $36,000, employing more than twice as many pattern-makers as any other manufactory of any kind in Chicago. Their daily cash expenses in 1872 were about $700. For eight months of that year they made and laid down in place in front of business buildings in Chicago a sidewalk-light platform equal to 40 feet long by 6 feet wide on an average every working day — equal to a frontage of nearly two miles in length. This manufactory is worthy of a visit. Mr. Brown is a member of the Board of Directors and of the Executive Committee of the Inter-State Industrial Exposition." —The Glory of Chicago · 1873
  • Broadsheet dated 1880
  • Invoice dated 1882
  • "E. L. Brown & Brothers established their vault-light factory in 1860, and in 1873 employed eighty-five men in their works at Clinton and Jackson streets. During eight months of 1872 they laid down two miles of sidewalk or vault lights in this city." —Industrial Chicago, 1891


  • Edwin Lee Brown [1827-1891], President
  • V. Reifsnider, Secretary and Treasurer
  • J. D. Richards

Edwin Lee Brown:

  • "Edwin Lee Brown, father of Edwin F. Brown, was a native of Milo, Maine, and was the second in order of birth in his father's family of three children. He married Mary Lapham Babcock, a daughter of Archibald and Elizabeth (Wyman) Babcock, of Charlestown, Massachusetts. In the early '60s Edwin Lee Brown brought his family to Chicago, where, in connection with his brother, Franklin B. Brown, he founded the Brown Brothers Manufacturing Company, of which he was president until his death in 1891. Unto him and his wife were born four children, namely: Frances L., Walter Lee, Edwin F. and Archibald L." —Chicago: Its History and Its Builders, a Century of Marvelous Growth, Volume 5
  • Illinois Humane Society: "The progress of reform was further illustrated by the crusade to prevent cruelty to dumb beasts. The Illinois Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, incorporated in 1869, was instrumental in bringing about the passage of such a law that year. In 1870 the society completed its organization with Edwin Lee Brown, manufacturer of sidewalk and vault lights, as president, and took steps to enforce the law. ..." —A History of Chicago, Volume III: The Rise of a Modern City, 1871-1893
  • World's Exposition: "The proposal to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the landing of Columbus in the Western Hemisphere had been a matter of discussion for some time prior to 1885. In that year Edwin Lee Brown suggested that Chicago would be the ideal place for it." —A History of Chicago, Volume III: The Rise of a Modern City, 1871-1893
  • "AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF THE RED CROSS (CHICAGO BRANCH) — Pres. Edwin Lee Brown; Sec. Miss Frances LeBaron; Treas. Isaac G. Lombard." —1890 Chicago Blue Book - Living History of Illinois
  • "The president of the Citizens' Association, Edwin Lee Brown, after the last election of Mayor Harrison, made a speech in North Side Turner Hall in which he called on all good citizens to take possession of the courthouse by force, even if they had to wade in blood. It seems to me that the most violent speakers are not to be found in the ranks of the Anarchists." —The Accused, the accusers: the famous speeches of the eight Chicago anarchists in court when asked if they had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon them.
  • TO be humane is to be Godlike. It is to be gentle, kind, merciful and compassionate; to practice no cruelty, and to regard the rights and happiness of all beings and creatures. It would seem that, in this enlightened age, this would be the rule of all human action and that there could be no real necessity for humane societies, and yet there is. Why this is so is related by Professor Swing as follows: Man is not by nature a kind animal, for all good is a cultivated plant. As the wild orange is bitter, and the wild olive destitute of richness, and the wild rose of perfume, so man is by nature a creature without mind and without heart. Even the children of civilized parents will stone or aim their arrow at a beautiful song-bird, not loving any more those rare decorations of the woods than they love the serpents in the grass. The love of all forms of destruction is in the bottom of the human heart, and long is the culture that will separate this dross from the spirit's gold. And when we have reached manhood and womanhood, and feel that the work of civilization has been accomplished in our own bosoms, behold a close examination of our souls shows that we are in part barbarous still.
    At the first inspection this seems to be an overdrawn picture, and yet the closer it is studied the truer it appears. Long culture is needed to separate the cruel dross from the spirit's gold, and to so refine the life that in it no barbarity can be found. Mr. Edwin Lee Brown, the subject of this sketch, recognizing this fact, has devoted much of his time and effort to the cultivation of the humane spirit among the people. In furthering this noble work, he assisted in forming, in 1870, the Illinois Humane Society, of which he was the first president, and in which he is still a director and active member. He is also an honorary member of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an honor as yet conferred by that Society on but seven persons. At his suggestion, October 9th, 1877, a convention of the various local Humane Societies was held at Cleveland Ohio, resulting in the formation of the International Humane Society, of which he was elected the first president. At the second convention of this Society, at Baltimore, in 1878, the name was changed to the American Humane Association, and Mr. Brown was elected its president. At its annual meeting in Chicago, October 8th and 9th, 1879, he was again elected its president, and again, from a sense of duty, accepted the position. The good accomplished by these Societies is now generally recognized. They constantly strive to protect those creatures that cannot protect themselves, and to increase their comfort. They give ready response to each cry of distress, with instruction for the ignorant, with persuasion for the thoughtless, with punishment for the malignant, and have due regard to the progress of practical civilization.
    Because of Mr. Brown's prominence in this noble work, the VOICE publishes his portrait, as its frontispiece, this month, and also alludes to some other particulars of his life, which are related by The Humane Journal, as follows:
    Mr. Brown is a native of the state of Maine, his early youth being passed in the city of Bangor, where his aged parents still reside. He is liberally educated, being a graduate of Bowdoin College, which he entered at the early age of fourteen years. After graduating, he studied law, but never practiced it, it being distasteful to him, he being more inclined towards artistic, scientific and mechanical pursuits. On giving up the law, he went to Boston, and, after studying the profession of architecture, he practiced it for upwards of ten years in that city--after which he removed to New York City and engaged in partnership with Mr. Hyatt, in the manufacture of Hyatt's patent sidewalk and vault lights.
    While living in Boston, Mr. Brown was one of the originators of the 'Boston Art Club,' of which he was an officer, and is, we believe, still a member.
    In the fall of 1860, Mr. Brown removed to the 'small but flourishing village' of Chicago, in company with his brother, where they carried on the manufacture of sidewalk and vault lights, under the well-known firm-name of Brown Brothers, until the decease of Mr. Frank Brown, in 1870.
    The business is now owned by Mr. Brown; is known as the 'Brown Brothers Manufacturing Company,' and is the largest of its kind in the world.
    Mr. Brown is also president and owner of the 'Western Sand Blast Company,' which manufactures ornamental glass of various kinds; also of the 'Ohio Handle Works,' manufacturing an almost endless variety of wooden handles of all kinds. He is also president of, and a large owner in, the 'Western Seed Company,' which deals extensively in garden and flower seeds; and president and principal stock-holder of the Gas Company at Evanston, Ill., where he resides, having a beautiful place of ten acres, directly on the shore of Lake Michigan. He was also president of the 'Young Men's Library Association,' of Chicago, for two years, previous to the Great Fire, and to him, as much as any other person, is Illinois indebted for its free library system. While president of the Library Association, he completely remodeled the lecture system of the West, 'bringing order out of chaos,' by establishing the 'Western Lecture Bureau,' of which the present Lecture Bureaus and Literary Bureaus of the East and West are but copies.
    Mr. Brown has been connected with the 'Inter-State Industrial Exposition' of Chicago, from its inception, having served as director for several years, as vice-president, and finally as president in 1877.Voice of Masonry and Family Magazine, Volume 18


"Edwin Lee Brown, president of the Brown Bros. Mfg. Company of Chicago, died at his residence in that city on the 21st inst. Since 1856 Mr. Brown had been prominently identified with the growth and public interests of Chicago, actively co-operating with philanthropic movements and ever animated with a desire to elevate humanity. Born in the town of Milo, Maine, in 1827, Mr. Brown was 64 years of age at the time of his death. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1845 and immediately engaged in business as an architect in Boston. Later he became connected with Hyatt Bros. of New York, and was at the time of his death engaged in the same business—that of manufacturing sidewalk lights, of which Hyatt is the patentee. It was in 1858 that Mr. Brown first established his business in Chicago. Still later he became identified with the Western Sand Blast Company, of which he has for many years been president. Few men possessed a keener insight into affairs. The success of the various associations with which he was connected in the course of his honorable and active career testifies to the high order of executive ability which he possessed. Those with whom he was associated in the different fields of humanitarian effort sincerely mourn his death. It was in Mr. Brown's capacity as director of the Interstate Industrial Exposition Company that at the annual meeting held on November 14, 1885, he offered the following famous resolution:

Resolved, That it is the sense of this meeting that a great World's Fair be held in Chicago in the year 1892—the four hundredth anniversary of the landing of Columbus in America.

The resolution, seconded by R. W. Hare, was unanimously adopted, and it is said to have been the first suggestion made at a public meeting regarding such a celebration. Mr. Brown leaves a widow and four adult children." —Iron Age, Volume 48, Issue 1, 1891


  • "Brown Brothers, (Edwin Lee Brown, Successor and Proprietor,) cor. Clinton and Jackson streets, Chicago. Sidewalk and Vault Lights, Floor, Roof, and Vessels' Deck Lights. This exhibition comprised Hyatt's patent lead band and cement prismatic vault lights, which are extensively and solely manufactured by this exhibitor, who does the largest business in this line of any house in the world. Some idea as to the extent of the business done in this line can be formed when the fact is known that during the year 1872 the cash outlay of the house of this exhibitor was one thousand dollars per day." —The Inter-state Exposition Souvenir, 1873
  • "A continuous and successful business career of almost forty years can be claimed by but few houses in the West. In January, 1860, Edwin Lee Brown founded the firm of Brown Brothers, afterward incorporated as Brown Brothers Manufacturing Company. In those early days of Chicago, sidewalk lights, or bull's-eye lights, as they were then called, were a new thing, untried and unknown, but in a few years the house had succeeded in building up a large and flourishing business. The importance of good work in the construction of sidewalk lights and skylights is probably underestimated by many, but the defects of the other kind become apparent in a very short time and continue a source of expense and annoyance. Careful and thorough work is assured in contracts undertaken by this house. Every variety of prismatic light work for sidewalks, floors and roofs is manufactured by this firm, and it is prepared to furnish special designs of mold glass and special patterns of iron framework for skylights from the plainest to the most ornate. Wrought-iron doors for sidewalk elevators, and chutes—coal hole covers and deck lights for vessels—are among the goods manufactured. The office and works of Brown Brothers Manufacturing Company are located at the northwest corner of Jackson boulevard and Clinton street." —The Inland Architect and News Record, 1897



Brown Brothers 18" Coalhole Cover Brown Brothers 20" Coalhole Cover Brown Brothers #4 Vault light
The "Star" • 18" Coalhole cover The "Star" • 20" Coalhole cover
No. 4 • 21" vault light
Brown Bros promotional paperweight / salesman's sample (top) Brown Bros promotional paperweight / salesman's sample (bottom) Brown Brothers vault light · Robby Virus, Flickr
Promotional Paperweight / Salesman's Sample
3¾" × 1" • 1 lb 6 oz • Bull's-eye embossed "BROWN BROS CHICAGO"
Robby Virus, Flickr