Exterior Window Casing by Chicago Millwork Supply Co.

The Chicago Millwork Supply Company, as the name suggests, sold millwork.  It’s one of those companies which is interesting, but also frustrating because there is not a lot of information readily available about their history.   The company grew, and sometime around 1913 or so (I’m not sure exactly when) they began selling kit houses as well.  Their products were no doubt shipped throughout the Midwest, and perhaps beyond.

When an old  house in northwestern Kansas fell victim to “nuisance abatement”, the opportunity to salvage it arose.  The small house had received several additions over the years, but the core section appeared to date to the early 19th century.  When an attic window was removed from the original section, it yielded a fun surprise; the backside of the exterior casing retained an original paper label from the Chicago Millwork Supply Company.  I was able to locate the window unit in a 1906 catalog which had thoughtfully been placed in the digital collections of the Thomas J. Watson Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That catalog image follows, along with photographs of the head of the salvaged window unit:



Frame C 295 as it appeared in the 1906 Chicago Millwork Supply Company’s catalog.


The head of that same frame as it appeared after a century of exposure to the elements.


The back of the head.


Detail of the label.  It survived remarkably intact!


Detail of shimmed molding.


Detail of cap.  The joint was obviously very vulnerable to weather.


The window was removed from the gable at the side of the house.  When will small towns learn that they can not bulldoze their way to prosperity?  The likelihood that this site will ever be anything other than a vacant lot is very slim… another hole in the fabric of a small and shrinking town.