Baird & Warner Company History Timeline


1855 The company that would become Baird & Warner records its first transaction: A $5,000 mortgage loan on Washington Street.

In 1855 he sold his stake and went into business for himself, establishing a real estate loan company in the T.B. Carter & Company building.

Baird & Warner was founded in 1855 by Lucius D. Olmsted.

Founded in 1855, Baird & Warner is the largest independent real estate broker in Illinois and the oldest in the country.


He convinced a childhood friend, Lyman Baird, to leave his job in the office of the treasurer at Yale to join him in 1857.

A former bank teller and cashier, Bradley had been working as an auditor for the Rock Island Railroad in Chicago since 1857.


Three years later, in January 1860, Baird became a copartner in what became known as L.D. Olmsted & Company.


Early in 1862 Olmsted took ill and after three or four weeks returned to the East to convalesce at his father-in-law’s house in Springfield, Massachusetts, but his condition took a turn for the worse and two weeks later he died at the age of 35.


1878 Lyman Baird’s son, Wyllys joins the company first as office boy, then bookkeeper, clerk and salesman before becoming a junior partner.

A new generation of the Baird family became involved in the business in 1878 when 19-year-old Wyllys Warner Baird joined his father.


He started out as an office boy and made partner in 1887.


Lyman Baird became consulting partner, as the younger members of the firm reorganized as Baird & Warner in 1893.


1897 Chicagoland’s population continues to grow, which led to construction of more apartments to provide affordable housing.

In 1897 the firm opened its first branch office, established near the end of the North Side elevated line.


In 1903 Wyllys Baird was named president.


Lyman Baird died in 1908 and five years later Warner passed away as well.


By this time, a third generation of the Baird family had joined the company, Warner Green Baird, who took over the building management department in 1911.


A second branch office, in Rogers Park, was opened in 1917.


Following a recession in 1919 after World War I, the economy boomed across the country, and Baird & Warner prospered as well.


A fourth branch office opened in Evanston in 1921.


It includes an office directory dated March 24, 1922, payroll records and loan, insurance and rent records for the main office and five branch offices-Michigan Ave, Wilson Ave, Rogers Park, Evanston, and Michigan-Erie.


In April 1928 Wyllys Baird suffered a stroke while in Florida.



Volume 7 is an account book for January 26-December 31, 1932.


Three more branch offices were opened in 1933 to manage these properties around the city.


1934 Until this time, restricted loan terms meant only the very wealthy could afford their own home.


In 1946, John Wyllys Baird, a holder of a Harvard MBA, joined the business.


Rent controls were lifted by the Housing and Rent Act of 1947, spurring apartment building, and the firm began providing a large number of construction loans for apartment buildings.


The correspondence regarding 4200 Marine Drive (Box 2, Folder 8) includes a series of letters from October 1955 in which a debate occurs over landscaping vs. installation of a parking lot in this rental property.


1962 John Baird takes a stand and makes a passionate speech for fair housing at City Hall.


In a 1965 letter to an opponent of fair housing, he wrote eloquently that fair housing should be the law of the land if “this nation is going to survive as one of the great free nations of the world.”


The correspondence on 444 N. Michigan Ave. (Box 3, folder 1) includes a July, 1967 letter to the Pullman Corporation in which John Baird urges Pullman to diversify and expand into the Real Estate field.


Also, in 1971 the firm formed the Baird & Warner Real Estate and Investment Trust (REIT) to raise capital for an increasing demand from industrial, office, and housing developers.


Bibliographical information including oral history, interview with Baird-June 8, 9, 1978


In 1980 a fifth generation of the Baird family joined the firm, John Baird’s son Stephen W. Baird.


After more than a decade of grooming, Steve Baird succeeded his father as president in 1991, and like his father before him, John Baird retained the chairmanship while the next generation assumed day-to-day control.


2003 Baird & Warner establishes B&W Title Services to give clients a more seamless real estate experience through an exclusive group of local expert attorneys.


Baird & Warner celebrated its 150th birthday in 2005, and despite his 90 years of age, John Baird continued to take the train into work four days a week.


"Baird & Warner Holding Company ." International Directory of Company Histories. . (April 16, 2021).

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