Chicago Pierce Arrow Dealer Henry Paulman

Home Page Forums General Chicago Pierce Arrow Dealer Henry Paulman

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 23 total)
  • Author
  • #393149

    In my spare time, I’ve been digging around trying to find some of the local history in Chicago concerning Pierce Arrow and their dealerships. It appears that Henry Paulman was the long time Chicago distributor of Pierce automobiles, and he was headquartered on Chicago’s Automobile Row on the 1300 block of South Michigan Avenue. Part of the dealership was a repair shop at 2301 S. Armour Avenue. Paulman was heavily involved in promoting automobiles in general, being part of the Good Roads Commission, as well as sponsoring local car related events such as an annual orphan’s outing each year. Paulman might have handled more makes than Pierce, as his wife was involved in an accident in June 1914 where she lost control of her “electric” at 47th and Woodlawn, and struck and killed an infant in a perambulator. Pierce took over the Chicago agency in the mid 1920’s, and it appears that Paulman’s ill health might have been one of the reasons. He passed away at his home at 4845 S. Kenwood Avenue on March 19, 1930 of “chronic heart disease.” I’ve attached a couple of pictures of Paulman at the start of a race, and at a shooting event just for reference. Does anyone know if there were other Pierce outlets in the Chicago area? Still trying to run down one of my grandfather’s cars.


    Additional Picture


    Second Additional Picture


    Good info Kenneth-thank you!


    In a not so long ago issue of the Arrow, I wrote a story about this dealership, attached pictures of one of the give aways….






    Do you know of any other dealerships in the Chicago area? I’d really be surprised if there wasn’t one on the North Shore, or out in Oak Park.


    There’s a list that was issued by PAMCC of all the dealers, I think I have a copy, but of course it would be limited by the date of issue as other dealers might be added later. Paulman was a major player, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he had Chicago for his own….


    George Brown has a 1909 Speedster originally sold through Paulman. What isn’t clear from the documents available is whether it was “bodied” by Paulman or just ordered. Because there is an ‘H, Paulman’ brass badge riveted on I suspect that the Paulman dealership did the conversion from a runabout. I’ve seen letters to and from Paulman indicating that is was ordered as a Speedster, but it doesn’t appear anywhere as a factory photo.

    Paulman was a dealer for other brands, including Hudson for sure. This was a major operation and as David indicates may have been the sole P-A distributor for the Windy City.

    Dave Stevens


    Hoo Hah! I found my answer! And guess where? At this website! Chris Diekman wrote a feature article in 2015(?) titled Pierce Arrow Salesman 101 outlining details of the Pierce operation in Chicago. There was a main branch in Chicago (Michigan Ave. probably) as well as a branch in Evanston and Oak Park. The article does not make clear who actually owned the dealership at that time, but the Chicago Tribune states that Henry Paulman retired in 1925, and the dealership was becoming a factory branch.

    It appears that Paulman did have a lot of other interests. It seems that his son, Henry Paulman Jr. was the publisher of the Automotive Red Book for years. He passed away in 1972, but not before influencing George Dammann to start the famous Crestline series of automotive books.


    In case you missed the article, here’s a copy of it, and it discusses some of Paulman’s antics:

    Torset the Swede approached the front of the Great Arrow Victoria Tonneau, admiring the gleaming brass he’d spent the morning polishing. A pull of the crank and the fine car came to life, and he gently drove it out of the stable and around to the front of the house on Prairie Avenue.

    Soon, John and Frances Glessner exited the house, and while Torset held the back door, entered the vehicle. Mrs. Glessner did not want the noise nor smell of a horseless carriage in their spacious courtyard, thus that area was avoided and they entered and exited the vehicle in a more public area.

    John loved these new contraptions, automobiles, and he could well afford the best. He was one of the founders and Vice President of the International Harvester Company, and one of the wealthiest men in Chicago. He’d visited his friend Henry Paulman at the latter’s Pierce showroom on South Michigan Avenue, and soon struck a deal for a top of the line limousine. He’d read that Henry had participated in the 1906 Glidden Tour in a Great Arrow, a couple of months ago in July, and was determined to own a similar model for his first automobile.

    This was to be a day for a short drive in the country, as the weather was lovely and the air only slightly cool. Leaving the city was no problem, for Mrs. Glessner was generous throughout the year with the local policemen and, more importantly, the policemen’s wives, little white envelopes for the former and honey for the latter. Mr. Glessner was also a member of the “Chicago Street Traffic Committee”. When the dark blue Pierce-Arrow came into view, cross and other traffic was quickly stopped, and the Glessner’s sent on their unobstructed way.

    As Torset glided the car along one country road, a stop was requested at a particularly scenic spot, one with the added attraction of having a natural spring. Mr. Glessner could easily cup his hands and have a sip, but that wouldn’t do for M’Lady, and Torset had the solution. Reaching in the bag he always brought along on such rides, he found the folded item that the H. Paulman & Co. service manager had given him on his last visit.

    Opening the item, he pulled out a folded paper cup, handing it to Mr. Gleesner, who smiled with understanding and proceeded to use it to bring a drink of water to his lovely. After throwing the used cup away, he thanked Torset and asked him to make sure to get cup refills at his next visit to the dealership. “Ja, Mr. Glessner…”

    Ja, the above account includes a real house, real family, real chauffeur and real Pierce Arrow, with the invention of the trip and use of the cup in order to introduce the memorabilia shown, a dealer give-away of paper drinking cups, dated 1910. Then, as now, dealer’s wanted the name of the dealership to be on trinkets so that there was a reminder of where to go when a car was needed. The H. Paulman & Co. is inked not only on the cups, but (albeit very faintly now) on the folding pouches for the cups.

    The Pierce Arrow dealership of H. Paulman & Co. was one of the earliest dealerships on Chicago’s “Motor Row” along South Michigan Avenue, the area which at one point had 116 automobile dealerships. The trade was so active on this street that the bandied about slogan was “Deliver Monday, Showroom Tuesday, Sold Wednesday”.

    Mr. Glessner would be a good customer of the Chicago Pierce dealer, and it’s also possible he was interested in purchasing a Wright airplane. After the successful 1909 Wright demonstrations for the Army, Mr. Paulman wrote the Brothers and asked for information on such a contraption, stating he had a customer interested in purchasing same. The Wrights would not sell any airplanes to the public until 1911, however. Henry Paulman would be a major factor in the “Issue of State Bonds to Build a State-wide System of Permanent Roads” of 1917-18, which provided sixty million dollars for “durable hard-surfaced roadways, not less than ten nor more than eighteen feet wide” in Illinois, and he (among others) realized the state’s future growth relied on a good road system.

    Henry Paulman was not only an advocate for good roads, but he enjoyed driving fine Pierce Arrow automobiles. In addition to his Glidden Tour participation, he also won two of the four Chicago Motor Club competitions in 1907, driving Pierce Arrows. These were economy runs, measuring miles per gallon. The first to Valparais, Illinois, and return for 95 miles, gas usage was 4 gallons, 2 quarts, and 11 ounces, or 20.6 miles per gallon. The second to New Carlisle, Indiana, and return, 196 miles, gas usage was 12 gallons 15-3/5 ounces, or 16.1 miles per gallon.

    Stories of the early days of automotive history often are intertwined in interesting fashion. There’s record of the H. Paulman & Co. dealership selling not only Pierce Arrows up into the 1920’s, but also the Velie automobile. This is only interesting in the sense that, if Mr. Paulman had a good customer and friend in Mr. Glessner, surely those relationships were strained when the name Velie was mentioned. Willard Lamb Velie was an executive of Deere & Company until 1921, though he sold his own branded tractors and automobiles. Deere was the largest competitor of International Harvester in the farm implement business, and though there was a slight degree of separation, surely the name irked John Glessner, having made his fortune as Vice President of the latter company.

    The Glessner House on Prairie Avenue is famous for its architectural style and features, and some of the facts in the story can be seen on the following website:


    David, thank you very much for the article! I’ve only been a member of the PAS for the last year, and haven’t seen much of the earlier articles. The story of Glessner really rings true. I’m really familiar with Prairie Avenue, having run down it many times on my lunch breaks back when working in the South Loop. I have heard that wholly one-fifth of the national wealth of the United States was controlled by the families living on a few block stretch of Prairie Avenue during the 1890’s. Unfortunately, the area when through a rapid decline in the 1910’s and many of the old mansions were later converted to rooming houses or torn down for industrial buildings. A few, including Glessner House, still survive.

    I’ve often heard a story about Chicago department store magnate Marshall Field and Pierce Arrow. Field was the dean of Chicago millionaires, and before his death in 1906, he was worth over $100,000,000.00. He had an uncanny business sense, and was successful in everything he undertook with the exception of his personal life. He was a prime target for salesmen of automobiles, and salesman were after him to buy their brand of automobile as his reputation would influence other buyers. He met with the salesmen, but always said to them, “I realize that your car is the best, but just out of curiosity, what car would you consider the second best?” They always answered Pierce, and that’s what Field finally bought.


    Henry Paulman must have used a 1907 30NN Great Arrow (269 cubic

    inches) to obtain the decent gas mileage in the Chicago Motor Club

    competitions. The 45PP and 65Q at 432 cubic inches and 648 cubic inches

    respectively, wouldn’t quite come close to 20.6 MPG. 400 30NN’s were

    made and they weighed 2,700 lbs. 300 45PP’s were made and they weighed

    3,860 lbs. 165 65Q’s were manufactured and weighed 4,150 lbs. I believe

    Pat Craig has a 1907 30NN Great Arrow with nickel plating. Early

    Pierces have great road manners (who cares about brakes) and corner

    well (Hartford shocks make all the difference). Once, I was topped

    out at 62 MPH in my economy sized 1912 36UU when a 1909 48SS flew by

    me like I had an anchor attached. 525 cubes does a lot of motivating.

    The price for ’12 Pierce Arrow parts has gone up since then so I am now

    on my best behavior.



    I’ve got more for you. The Paulman dealership over time was listed at three different addresses on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, the last of which was 2420 S. Michigan. That one is the only building still standing. When Pierce built the big factory dealership at 2545 S. Michigan it was part of the “Pierce-Arrow Sales Corp.” and this also included the Evanston location. The 2545 location was torn down to make room for the Mercy Hospital expansion in the 1960’s. The 2420 location is the last building on Motor Row. There was a Duesenberg building south of it that was torn down to make room for Interstate 55 which ended at Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. There were a number of Studebaker dealerships that took on Pierce-Arrow in the ’29-33 era and I know that the Avenue Garage in Glen Ellyn was one of them. That building still stands as well.

    I can send you some interior photos of the 2420 building as I’ve been friendly with the owners and we used their printing business to create the large banner we used for the 2005 Annual Meet in Springfield, IL. It’s an interesting building and they still have an operating car elevator at the back of the building to transport the cars to the second floor storage.

    There was also a Pierce-Arrow Service facility at 2301 S. Federal Ave. and that building is also still there. It’s now used by the Chicago Housing Authority for equipment storage.



    Thanks Bill! I’d appreciate the pics when you have time. Vincent Fitch from upstate New York also called me and is going to send me a picture of a dealer badge from Paulman that he has in his collection. You’ve given me the Michigan Avenue locations, and the Chris Diekman article had a picture of the Evanston location. On the weekend, I’ll snoop around Oak Park and see if I can find where Pierce had a branch along there. There were a lot of car dealers along Madison Street in the past, and Cadillac even had a big factory branch on Madison just east of Oak Park Avenue. This archeology work is interesting!


    I’ve got photos of the Oak Park location. It’s still there. I’ll send them tonight if I can.


    Thank you Bill! Got them this evening.


    Here’ the photo of the 2420 S. Michigan building with our ’31 parked in front of it.


    Here’s how the same building looked in 1910 when it was built.

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 23 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.