Before Baird & Warner was known as ‘Baird & Warner,’ it was Baird & Bradley. This was due to the partnership between founder Lyman Baird and fellow New Haven-ite Francis Bradley. When Bradley joined the firm, the Civil War was at its height, and Chicago was booming.
Mortgage lending was the company’s main business, but soon the partners began to manage buildings in order to protect clients’ investments. On top of that, Baird & Bradley sold insurance as the Chicago agent for the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. These two businessmen were quickly becoming an essential piece of Chicago real estate.
The city’s boom years continued after the Civil War, and by 1869 Chicago had a huge population of nearly 300,000. Street and water railway systems were built, and Chicago soon became the railroad crossroads of America.
Just as things were looking up for Baird & Bradley, its office was completely destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, along with the city’s economic center. When it came to rebuilding, Chicago hit a major roadblock: public real estate records had also been burnt, and it became unclear who could build what and where.
When Lyman Baird returned to the site where his office once stood, he discovered that the safe with all of the company records was unharmed. Baird & Bradley’s private records helped to assure stability in titles and lot lines so Chicago could begin its recovery.
After the Fire, Lyman Baird convinced East Coast investors to send more money to assist the rebirth of Chicago. Investors put up nearly $140 million to cover to cost of reconstruction, and this incredible support created such a sustained building boom that it cushioned the worst effects of the financial panic of 1873.
The money, along with millions from other sources, allowed old businesses to expand and brought new ones into existence. Demand for property increased and property values rose! Thus began the expansion of Chicago as a city and Baird & Warner as a company.