Biography of Isaac Thompson Cook
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Isaac Thompson Cook has earned his popular place among the distinguished men of St. Louis through his connection with the erection of many of the finest office buildings and commercial structures which have recently transformed the business section into one of metropolitan proportions. About the time when the exposition was attracting to the city many visitors the chief criticism passed upon it was concerning its lack of modern sky-scraper business buildings, and in recent years the city’s development has in no other line been more marked than in the direction of meeting this criticism. Today the high office building is the rule and not the exception and the progress in this connection Is attributable largely to Isaac Thompson Cook.
He was born in Fayette county, Ohio, on the 28th of August, 1871, of the marriage of Major James F. and Mary Augusta (Myers) Cook, and while spending his boyhood days under the parental roof he pursued a thorough public school education at Washington Court House, Ohio. In November, 1896, Mr. Cook located in St. Louis, entering the real estate and financial world. While buying and selling properties was one of the fields of his endeavor, he is more generally known as the father of the sky-scraper buildings of St. Louis, he being responsible for the existence of many of the highest class. Thus through his labors have come about the most material changes in the business center of the city, and this has been accomplished so rapidly that St. Louis equals in the character of its office buildings the three cities of the country which outrank it in size. He has made a special study of the development of the business section and has been the conspicuous figure in the handling of large leaseholds. A recital of the larger transactions in business property contracted by Mr. Cook closely approaches a history of that development covering the last five years. Among his achievements he can point to such buildings as the Chemical, the Wright, the Frisco, the University Club and the Arcade building as examples of financing and construction. He now does a large real estate business and has the management of the Odd Fellows, Columbia, Carleton, Wall, Leather Trades and Drygoodsman buildings in addition to the foregoing.
His operations, however, have not been confined to St. Louis but are national in scope. He was associated in the promotion of one of the modern sky-scrapers and also a magnificent hotel at Seattle, Washington, a large office and commercial building at Omaha, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; and a large office building for an insurance company at Chattanooga, Tennessee; an office building at Boston, Massachusetts, and Indianapolis, Indiana, are attributed to Mr. Cook’s activities in planning and promoting such structures, while Chaffee, Missouri, one of the newest cities of the state, owes its existence to his remarkable energy and ability. A number of the most prominent business men of St. Louis are supporters of Mr. Cook in his enterprises and accept his judgment without question. Whenever he declares that the future of St. Louis and business conditions warrant large outlays of money in commercial structures the financial requirements are immediately forthcoming. The number of companies with which he is identified indicates in some measure the extent of his interests and of his business activity. Ile is a man of unfaltering energy and determination who readily solves intricate problems, basing his judgment not upon intuition or any superficial observation of the question but upon a thorough understanding of conditions in the business world as well as the incidents connected with the specific interest under consideration.
Mr. Cook has been married twice; first on February 28, 1894, to Miss Jessie Carleton McCrea, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. McCrea, of Washington Court House, Ohio. Of this marriage there were three children: Elizabeth Jeanette, born October 2, 1895; Jessie Augusta, March 12, 1897; and Carleton McCrea, December 25, 1903. His second marriage on October 7, 1919, was to Miss Lilyan Brown Sherwood, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Sherwood of St. Louis. They have one child, Miss Pollyanna, born September 2, 1920.
The list of organizations of which Mr. Cook is a member includes the Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturer’s Association of St. Louis, the Real Estate Exchange, the St. Louis Club, the Noonday Club, the Missouri Athletic Association, the University Club, the Riverview Club, the Sunset Hill Country Club and the City Club. In political belief he is a republican, and he endorses that movement toward higher, cleaner politics which is one of the hopeful signs of the times.