Oil Painting, view of W. D. Kerfoot's real estate office in the burnt district, circa 1872. Oil paint; canvas. Painted by W. J. Burton, Chicago, Illinois. Gift of the Estate of William D. Kerfoot. 1918.4
Oil Painting of W. D. Kerfoot's real estate office
This oil on canvas painting of a building among ruins by W. J. Burton was made one year after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It honors the first rebuilt building after the devastation of the fire.
Depicted in this oil painting are shingles tacked on to the front of a smallish wooden building which has two windows and a doorway reading: E. B. Myers / LAW Books/W. D. KERFOOT, All Gone but Wife, Children & Energy/WALCOTT & FOX City Surveyor/E. A. ASHTON/ LAW OFFICE There is also a large number 89 on the front wall of the building and a white board leaning against. Three figures stand in front of the office with one man in the doorway, the sun casting shadows on the wall, the man on the left has a cane and the man opposite has a stove pipe hat. Two other figures are seen to the extreme left of the canvas with three in the forefront. In addition to those people, a handful of figures are standing in the shadows on the right hand side of the building. None of the figures except the three in the front of the building have recognizable features. All around the building is rubble and ruins.
Depicted in this oil painting is William D. Kerfoot making the best of a devastating situation. Within days of the Chicago Fire of 1871, William D. Kerfoot erected the first building in the burnt district at 89 Washington Street. An enterprising real estate agent, Kerfoot posted a sign proclaiming "All gone but WIFE, CHILDREN, AND ENERGY. Kerfoot's determined spirit and sense of humor raised the hopes of fellow Chicagoans who gathered at his office to exchange news and collect information. Like pre-fire office buildings, "Kerfoot's Block" housed several businesses under one roof, including another real estate agent, two lawyers, and a surveyor. Kerfoot's business flourished after the fire, making him one of Chicago's most successful businessmen.