William O. Goodman

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Goodman tomb near the shore of Lake Willowmere.

William Owen Goodman (1848–1936) was an American lumber tycoon. He was born in Wellsborough, Pennsylvania to Owen and Susan (Barber) Goodman in 1848.[1] His parents died at an early age and he was raised by various members of his family living in different areas throughout Pennsylvania such as Columbia and Athens. He later came to Chicago at the age of 20 in 1868. He first worked as a bookkeeper and then a salesman for the Menominee River Lumber Company. He began investing in lumber on his own. In 1878 he married Erna Sawyer and with his new brother-in-law formed the Sawyer-Goodman Company of which he eventually became president.

Goodman is famous for helping to found the Goodman Theatre through a gift of $250,000 made to Art Institute of Chicago. The donation was made in memory of his son Kenneth Sawer Goodman, a playwright who died at the age of 35 during the 1918 flu pandemic. His son had written and produced a number of different plays throughout Chicago and had envisioned a theater which embraced the best professional training and performance standards.[2]

He is also notable for employing architect Howard Van Doren Shaw to build both a tomb memorializing his son [3] as well as his mansion in the expensive Gold Coast District. His former residence is on Astor Street which was given landmark status in 1975 by then mayor Richard J. Daley.[4]


  1. ^ Alfred Theodore Andreas (1886). History of Chicago. v. 3. A. T. Andreas. p. 380. 
  2. ^ "A Brief History of the Goodman Theatre". Goodmantheatre.org. 1925-10-20. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  3. ^ "Romeo & Juliet Goodman Gravestone Detail". Flickr.com. 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  4. ^ Astor Street District - The William Goodman House Archived July 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.

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