Welcome to C.D. Peacock Welcome to C.D. Peacock - Chicago's Best Jewelry Since 1837

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Chicago

1837
Population 4,170

The United States of America was going through a period of growth and economic expansion, credited to international trade, tariffs on imports and an abundance on silver.

In five years the population of Chicago grew from approximately 100 hundred people in 1832 to over 4000 by 1837.

Elijah Peacock and his wife, Rebecca Haylock left their home Isle of Chatteris, Cambridge, England and immigrated to Chicago in January of 1837.

In February of 1837, Elijah founded the “House of Peacock” at 155 1/2 Lake St.

 

Chicago was granted a charter and became a city the following month. The House of Peacock was the first registered business of Illinois.

Even the Panic of 1837, which sparked a country wide depression that lasted well into the 1840’s couldn’t stop the House of Peacock’s success or Chicago’s growth. This would be the first hardship that the House of Peacock and Chicago would overcome together.

The Democrat, a Chicago based newspaper owned by John Wentworth, is where Elijah would take out his first advertisement on April 5th, 1841. This print ad would most likely make C.D. Peacock the oldest continuous jewelry advertiser in America.

Over the years Chicago’s economic landscape changed as the city’s population grew. Peacock's would relocate it's location to the most popular area of Chicago as the center of the city would change.

 

First established on Lake Street and La Salle.

In 1843, the House of Peacock moved around the corner to 195 Lake Street and Wells.

By 1843, Chicago was rich with transportation and fertile ground. The city was a hub for business and Elijah Peacock was one of six jewelers. As Chicago grew in size and numbers, so did Peacock's. With each upgrade of transportation, including the addition of the Indiana and Michigan Canal and the thousands of miles of railways, people were drawn to the city. In fact, legend has it that Elijah was an early investor in the canal that made the business boom possible. A few years after he opened shop, Elijah acquired prime land in that area from a gambler who “paid” his debts with a deed to the land – only thought to be worth very little at the time. Eventually, the value of land close to the canal skyrocketed and Elijah sold it to fund the canal, paving the way for the store’s and Chicago’s growth.

 

Once again the economic landscape shifted.

In 1849, The House of Peacock moved to 199 Randolph Street.

Then again in 1854 to 205 Randolph Street.

And again in 1857 to 221 Randolph Street.

While business picked up, so did Chicago’s social scene, and Peacock's was at the center. Elijah introduced deluxe jeweled necklaces for the modern, elite Chicago woman, and sold fine silver dining sets for elegant parties of the day. Peacock's established themselves as Chicago’s leading jeweler with well-known figures like Mary Todd Lincoln (pictured), Chicago business legend Marshall Field, and International Harvester founder Cyrus McCormick amongst its famous customers.

In 1863, The Chicago Tribune advertised an ice-skating match at Washington Park in the city. Charles Daniel (Elijah's son who was born on October 10th, 1838, now in his mid 20's) entered the contest after learning his moves from Jackson Haines — the father of modern figure skating — and completed a double back roll, going on to win the match in front of 1,500 spectators.

Here's an excerpt from the Chicago Tribune on Saturday, February 14th, 1863, describing C.D. Peacock's victory.

The Peacock Family and The House of Peacock were well on their way to becoming American success stories.

Then tragedy...

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 absolutely devastated and wiped out the city, halting the vast progress that citydwellers made; it was only extinguished by a miraculous rain the following day. While the rebuilding began immediately, it was discovered that while the House of Peacock’s building was in ashes, one thing was clear in the rubbish:

the vault was, amazingly, still in-tact. Containing all of their most valued items, the Peacock vault – although difficult to construct and maintain – protected their future.

After the fire, The House of Peacock was quick to open back up for business.

 

In 1871, The House of Peacock opened at 96 West Madison Street.

Two years later Peacock's moved to 98 State Street.

June 25th, 1876 - Chicago Tribune excerpt describing the new location.

In 1889, Elijah’s son, Charles Daniel (C.D.), took control of the business and changed The House of Peacock to the name and luxury brand we now know as C.D. Peacock. He was very involved in the business since he was a young boy, having grown up around the best jewelers and watchmakers.

By the late 1800’s, one million people were in the 38-route-mile city. C.D. Peacock’s business thrived as the city thrived with the millions of footprints of Chicagoans and its visitors.

During their reinvention phase in 1893, C.D. Peacock attended The Columbian Exposition – the World’s Fair in Chicago that propelled America forward into 20th century consumerism. Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, and even Milton Hershey attended this cultural affair with many famous inventions first being presented – like the Ferris Wheel and Hershey’s Chocolate. At the forefront of watch and jewelry makers attending the fair, C.D. Peacock “cordially invited” all attending to browse and purchase their finest silverware and jewelry as “souvenirs of Chicago,” boasting old-world elegance and even offering the first ever all-luxury mail order catalog.

 
 

The following year C.D. Peacock moved to the corner of State Street and Adams

 
 

In 1903, Charles D. Peacock died leaving the business to his sons, Robert and Walter.

 

In 1926 C.D. Peacock gave up their lease at State and Adams to Marshall Fields.

C.D. Peacock would design a store that far surpassed any jewelry store ever created within the walls of the Palmer House Hotel at State Street and Monroe.

Opened in 1927, Miles Lanier Colean "father of urban renewal" would help design the store.

Their most beautiful store to date.

Everthing was extravagant; From the jewelry cases to the ceiling detail.

Even the exterior was a sight to see.

Commissioned by C.D. Peacock and designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the original three brass Peacock doors are still on display to this day.

Along with many of the store's decorative elements, including the clock on the corner of State and Monroe.

Even Marshall Field & Company took out an ad in the Chicago Tribune on June 6th, 1927 to congratulate C.D. Peacock for their dedication to improving the retail community throughout their 90 years of business.

A map of Chicago's best places to visit around 1928, provided by C.D.Peacock (Referenced as "B" on the map)

C.D. Peacock Celebrates 100
Chicago, 1937
Population aproximately 3.38 million

A Bronze Medal was issued to commemorate C.D. Peacock's 100th anniversary. The front of the medal shows the busts of Elijah and Charles Daniel Peacock.

 

The back displays Fort Dearborn, the first settlement of Chicago, and the great Ferris Wheel from the Colombian Exposition. Also featured is the C.D. Peacock Vault that survived the 1871 Chicago Fire. Embedded on the back of the medal is a tiny piece of steel cut from the door of the Peacock vault.

 

Under the leadership of C.D. Peacock III , the 40's, 50's and 60's would be a time of expansion. Here's an excerpt of the Chicago Tribune showing C.D. Peacock III's envolvement with the community, while memorializing his great-great Grandfather, Elijah.

The Expansion

Up to the early 1950's C.D. Peacock only had one location at a time, which was currently at State and Monroe

La Grange Park opened in 1952

Hubbard Woods opened in 1955

Old Orchard opened in 1957

Oakbrook Center opened in 1962

River Oaks Center opened in 1967

Michigan Avenue opened in 1968, but closed shortly after due to lack of traffic.

In 1970, Dayton-Hudson Corp., the parent of Marshall Fields, acquires C.D. Peacock buying 100,000 shares, valued at $2,525,000. That year C.D. Peacock had sales of $6 million.

George H. Tesar took over as President in the early 70's...

and opened the Woodfield Mall location around 1971.

In 1972, C.D. Peacock III retires. Vice President Stewart Stanely Peacock (pictured), 5th generation of Peacocks, also left the business. They were the last of the Peacock family to work at C.D. Peacock.

Charles Dishman is president from 1973 - 1975 and continued to expand the business.

Hawthorn Mall opened in 1974.

Then the Fox Valley location opened in 1975 under the new president, Richard Naster.

Charles Dishman returned as president of C.D. Peacock once again in 1977, determined to reopen on Michigan Ave. At this time C.D. Peacock was bringing in $12 million in sales per year.

In 1982, Dayton-Hudson sold its 55 store Dayton-Hudson Jewelers operation, including C.D. Peacock to Henry Birks & Sons Ltd. of Montreal.

Northbrook opened in 1987 under Henry Birks & Sons.

Jack McDevitt became president of C.D. Peacock in 1988.

By 1991 C.D. Peacock reopened on Michigan Avenue, and with the expansion of that location, C.D. Peacock was now an 8 store operation; State & Monroe, Oakbrook Center, Northbrook Court, Woodfield Mall, Old Orchard, Hawthorn, River Oaks and Michigan Avenue.

Things fell apart

After 155 years of being in business, C.D. Peacock started to close it's doors. In 1992, State & Monroe, Northbrook Court, Woodfield Mall, Old Orchard, Hawthorn, River Oaks and Oakbrook Center would close, leaving only one store at Michigan Avenue.

In 1993, C.D. Peacock would eventually go into bankruptcy and lose their Michigan Avenue lease.

C.D. Peacock had collapsed under Henry Birks & Sons Ltd.

A new lease on life.

Northbrook Court's lease was renewed and the location reopened in 1993 under Seymour Holtzman, a jewelry-industry veteran who headed the Gruen Marketing Corp., the largest independent distributor of brand-name and designer watches in the United States at the time. Mr. Holtzman served as the National Finance Co-Chairman for the Reagan-Bush Campaign, and was appointed by President Reagan to the United States Department of Commerce’s Industry Policy Advisory Committee for trade policy matters.

Seymour Holtzman tapped Joseph Murphy, who headed Holtzman's umbrella company Jewelcor Inc., as president of C.D. Peacock.

Oakbrook Center reopened in 1998.

Within the same month, Woodfield Mall reopened.

C.D. Peacock opened it's fourth store under Seymour Holtzman on Michigan Avenue in 2000.

And in 2001, for the first time in C.D. Peacock's history, there were two stores on Michigan Avenue.

In 2015, Seymour Holtzman decided to close Northbrook Court due to lack of traffic at the mall. Soon after, the Michigan Avenue stores closed as well for similar reasons. It was time to reinvest in the top selling locations for C.D. Peacock.

The store at Old Orchard,

Woodfield Mall,

and Oakbrook Center all received makeovers.

In 2016, Granddaugter of Seymour Holtzman, Chelsea Holtzman-Lawrence joined the marketing department along with her husband.

 

 

Steven Holtzman, son to Seymour and father to Chelsea, was appointed vice-chairman in 2021. Steven's wife, Qi is also assisting in improving the customer experience.

 

C.D. Peacock is once again a family owned and operated business with three generations of Holtzman's working together to make it the best jewelry store in Chicago.

 

Continue on to our press section for latest news on C.D. Peacock.

 

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