James C. Curtis
by Jacob Kaplan

The James C. Curtis Company manufactured “undertaker’s supplies,” which one is led to believe was a fancy term for caskets (as indicated on the semi-obscured roof sign).

James S. Curtis Co.

The building, designed by Patterson and Davidson (architects of the immense Western Electric Hawthorne Works in Cicero), is a steel frame factory building built in 1910.21 The company operated here until 1946, when they initiated a move to 2340 West Ogden.22

That same year, the building was bought for $390,000 and became home to three firms on a cooperative basis; a printer, a lithographer, and a clothing manufacturer. Each occupied different floors of the building, and were representative of the types of industries clustering in the Near West Side post-World War II.23

Fittingly, the building is currently home to a clothing manufacturer. Perhaps as a result of its solid construction, the structure itself has remained strikingly intact; it even retains many of its original wood sash windows! Not so intact is the factory on Ogden that Curtis moved to in the 1940s; the photo on the right shows that it now sports a postmodern facade and is almost certainly no longer a casket factory.

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