fixtures at the Iroquois theater, excluding those
used on the stage, were supplied by manufacturer and
wholesaler, T. W. Wilmarth Company.
Wilmarth also supplied fixtures for several other
Klaw & Erlanger theaters, in Chicago and around the
Midwest. Sconce lights and Etruscan crystal
bowl electroliers can be seen in interior photographs.
president of Wilmarth, Joseph H. Dimery, was
a personal friend of Will J. Davis, Iroquois
manager. Dimery served as an auctioneer at the
promotional ticket sale auction in mid November
before the theater's grand opening.
He and Davis
were fellow members of the Chicago Athletic Club. Dimery and his wife were in a party who
in 1909 visited
Davis at his Crown Point farm, Willowdale, to attend the Cobe Trophy Cup auto race in Crown
Point (see photo below). Others in the group were
Levy Mayer, novelist/playwright Marjorie
Benton Cooke and light opera contralto, Kate Condon.
Dimery attended Mr Bluebeard matinee
Dimery surely attended the November 23,
Iroquois grand opening
and must have liked the show because he saw it again
the afternoon of the fire. He survived and
testified at fire attorney Fulkerson's hearing two
days after the fire. He
sat on the first floor in the parquet, far enough
south that he did not see the first flames. In
spoke of trying to reassure people sitting in the
nearby box seat. He remained in the theater long
enough to see the problems in lowering the fire
curtain and spoke of the draft that blew into the
auditorium when the stage door was opened as being
strong enough to nearly knock him over. He was
the only one who emphasized the strength of the
draft but the reason soon became clear: Iroquois
management thought the draft exonerated them. Old
man Joe was helping out Old man Will.
his testimony Dimery did not refer to anyone else in
his party at the Iroquois so it is not known if his
wife, Sarah, also attended.
Joseph Dimery (1859-1928) immigrated from England in 1879. He was the
son of George and Mary Dimery. He married
Sarah Emily Austin (1864-1920) in 1888. Sarah went by her middle name,
probably to avoid confusion with her mother, also named Sarah. Emily was the daughter of
New York natives, Judge
Peter B. Austin and Sarah Lyons Austin. Peter was a judge in Detroit.
Emily's brother, Al Austin, operated a trendy
Chicago restaurant for many years in the early 1900s. Joseph and Emily
had no children that survived. Two daughters died in infancy in 1888
Joseph Dimery stepped down as president sometime
before 1913 but was still working as a sales
representative until at least 1920. I failed
to learn what became of the Wilmarth lighting
company. The last reference I found was in
As a young
man in 1856, Henry Wilmarth went to work as a bookkeeper for the Gerould
Brothers gas fixtures company. When the Gerould brothers died, he became the
manager and eventually purchased the company. His brother, Thomas W.
Wilmarth, joined the business and at Henry's death the company was renamed, T.
W. Wilmarth. By 1903 none of the Wilmarth
family remained associated with the company but the name remained, probably because it
was synonymous with light fixtures in Chicago and in various industries
including hotels, public buildings and theaters.
Chicago City Club contract
In 1912 Wilmarth won a contract to supply
light fixtures to the six-story, eight-year-old City Club on Plymouth Court in
Chicago (picture above), designed by Pond and Pond. Included in the
project were 350 lamps. The
Commonwealth Edison company supplied direct current for the building --
powering, in addition to lighting, three elevators and two dumb-waiters.
A trade magazine reported that the facility was equipped with outlets for
table lamps and vacuum cleaners, with special "cut outs" for stereopticons
in the two lounges. Stereopticons projectors were used for glass slide
presentations and are also known as "magic lanterns." Not sure what a "cut
out" is but since the story appeared in an electrical trade publication, it
may have referred to a separate circuit. Stereopticon projectors used high
powered bulbs and may have gobbled more than their fair share of power.
It is interesting that as late as 1912, wall outlets for table lamps were
novel enough to merit particular mention in a magazine read by electricians.
The Dimerys joined Will J. Davis, for the 23.3-mile June,
1909 Cobe Trophy Cup
race in Crown Point, Indiana, two months before the first Indianapolis
500. Pictured is Joe Matson driving his Chalmers-Detroit racer to a
win on the first day of the race. Three years later he won the Indy
500. In Crown Point Matson did ten laps, averaging 52.2 mph.
Louis Chevrolet of France was the winner on the second day, with a Buick
that averaged 49.26 mph.
For all that Joe Dimery looks like the bookkeeper he was
at the beginning of his career, 1900-1910 Chicago newspapers suggested a
fellow that was enjoying life. There were several stories of jovial
exploits of fraternal organizations involving Dimery and, usually,
Uncontrolled lighting played a role
William Brady theatrical producer at
Florence Tobias taught at
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