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The Cyclopædia of American Biography/Springer, Warren

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SPRINGER, Warren, capitalist, b. in New York, N. Y., 9 Oct., 1844; d. in Chicago, Ill., 8 Feb., 1912, son of Henry and Roxanna (Dore) Springer. His earliest American ancestor was Carl Springer, who emigrated to this country from London in 1670, going direct to Jamestown, Va., later settling in Christina, now known as Wilmington, Del. He was educated in the public schools of New York, and at twenty years of age removed to Chicago, starting in the machinery business in a small way. In this business he made remarkable progress, mastering every detail as he progressed, and was in charge of a highly profitable business until 1871, when the great fire destroyed the entire business section of the city. This calamity in no way discouraged Mr. Springer, who with characteristic enterprise and promptitude erected an eight-story and basement, mill construction, building in Canal Street, south of Jackson Street, fronting the river, on ground that cost him $50.00 a front foot. The building was called “Springer's Folly” because he located the building far away from the then generally recognized business district. In 1893 the property was sold to the Tunnel Company at $2,500 a front foot, netting him a profit of approximately 5,000 per cent for his large resourcefulness and superior business capacity. Mr. Springer was the originator of that particular style of factory building which has proven so successful. He contended that for efficiency the offices and salesrooms of a manufacturing concern should be located within the factory building, and that if the construction were heavy enough he could locate several factories and centralize the industry at a decreased operating cost. Consequently he built a boot and shoe manufacturing building, the success of which prompted him to erect a woodworks building, and a printers' building, erecting and operating in all thirteen buildings. In the operation of these structures, Mr. Springer manifested a comprehensive grasp of the various enterprises located there with a view toward centralization, and consequently increased the general efficiency, furnishing light, heat, steam, and power, night and day, summer and winter In the early seventies and eighties power was furnished by means of rope transmission, which method was followed in the nineties by an electric plant, generating electricity for motor power and lighting purposes. Mr. Springer lived to see his idea adopted by building experts in all large cities of the country, and many capitalists in Chicago today are erecting similar buildings. His foresight and acumen is largely responsible for many of the desirable conditions existing in Chicago at this time. In 1893 he retired from the machinery business to devote his time exclusively to his large real estate holdings on the West Side, which won for him the distinction of being called “The Father of the West Side.” The magnitude of these interests was considerable, yet so thoroughly systematized were his affairs that he handled them with ease. Mr. Springer was a man of simple tastes and quiet demeanor, but whose strong personality impressed itself upon his associates, emphasizing, in a marked degree, precision, prudence, and determination. He possessed a faculty for persistent and indefatigable application, and displayed the intrinsic worth and force of his character, combined with such a remarkable degree of good judgment that his advice and co-operation upon intricate business relations were highly valued by all who came in contact with him. That he did more than any other man to develop the West Side, in Chicago, where his manufacturing property was located, no one denies. He was an efficient force impelled by a progressive spirit and guided by conservative ideas. He never mingled in politics; never used tobacco or intoxicating liquors in any form, and was opposed to all forms of sham and pretense. Mr. Springer was a member of the Episcopal Church, and a liberal supporter of many worthy benevolent organizations. On 4 April, 1893, he married Miss Marguerite, daughter of John V. and Mary F. (Ferguson) Maginness, of Newark, Ohio. He was survived by his widow and one daughter, Frances, wife of Edwin D. Keith, of Chicago.


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