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Our History

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Decorators Supply Corporation traces it's history back to 1883 when the original founders, Simon Strahn and Richard C. Foster, established a partnership to manufacture "artistic decorative accessories" ("Manufacturing and Wholesale Industries of Chicago", Thomas B. Poole Co., published 1918). An old lease document dated April 13, 1890 describes the company as a carving and guilders business. By 1893, Decorators Supply had blossomed into a manufacturer of cast ornamental plaster. We became one of the manufacturers of the mouldings that would adorn the buildings and halls showcased in the Columbian Exhibition of 1893. These buildings, embellished with ornamental plaster, became known as the "White City" (see photo at left/above). This World's Fair of 1893 attracted a wealth of world class artists, sculptors, carvers and craftsmen to Chicago. Decorators Supply drew from this rich talent pool the German, Italian and Polish artisans who over the following four decades would create the artistic legacy seen today in our product offerings.

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In 1896 two key individuals joined Decorators Supply Corporation. Oscar Sprindler, a German born decorator and designer, joined the firm that year. Mr. Spindler headed up the design and art department of our company for many years (see photo at right) and is credited with creating many of the beautiful designs you will find in our various catalogs. In the same year, William Grage Sr., the patriarch of our family (see photo below) began his career with Decorators Supply as an office boy. William Sr. rose through the ranks of the company, eventually becoming part owner and an officer of the company. At the end of World War II, William Sr. purchased Decorators Supply and with his three children, Elmer, Bill Jr. and Marie ran the company until his death in 1978. Decorators Supply remains a family business with two third generation Grage's and one son-in-law running the business.

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Decorators Supply – company history highlights:

  1. Our composition ornaments comprised many of the major pieces of Wurlitzer factory stock "French" consoles. Source: Carlton Smith of Carleton Smith Organ Restoration in Indianapolis, In.
  2. Our composition ornaments can be found on original Brunswick Bars
  3. In 1997 crates with plaster ornaments manufactured by Decorators Supply Corp. were found in storage at Southern Illinois' University Museum. These crates, containing plaster mouldings manufactured by our company, were labeled for the Louis Sullivan designed Van Allen Building in Clinton, Iowa. Source: Curator of the University Museum of Southern Illinois University.
  4. Our Capitals and pilasters were illustrated in the "Universal Design Book" adopted by the Wholesale Sash, Door and Blind Manufacturers Association of the Northwest, January 20th, 1902. This rare volume was reproduced by Dover Publications under the title, "Turn of the Century Decorative Millwork", copyright 1996.

Our place in American decorative history is reinforced weekly by calls from clients who, hoping to restore their historic homes and furnishing, find our catalogs and products an unparalleled resource.


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