The first association of master plumbers formed in Chicago of which there is any record was in 1860, but from the best information we are able to obtain, it lasted only a short time as many of the members enlisted in the army at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
There is no record of there being any attempt made to form another organization until early in February 1882, out of which the present association has grown. The first organizational meeting was held in a hall at the northwest corner of La Salle and Randolph Streets on February 24th, 1882, where the following resolution was adopted: "Whereas in consideration of furthering the interests of master plumbers and the want of closer business and social relations; the Master Plumbers of the City of Chicago, County of Cook, State of Illinois, do hereby organize and establish ourselves as an organization to be known as the Master Plumbers Organization of the City of Chicago." The history of the association in succeeding years has been marked by steady progress in the development of sanitary plumbing. In the evolution of our trade, which has undergone many changes, our members have taken a leading part. Through the educational efforts of our Local, State and National Associations, the individual standing of the master plumber has steadily improved, with the result that it can be truly said that no other trade was able to secure the same degree of protection as has been accorded to the plumbing business. If for nothing else, but the securing of recognition which they conceived to be their right as merchants to have their business protected, the present generation owes a debt of gratitude to the men whose enterprise and work brought forth such excellent results.
For the next few years following the inception of the organization, the trade in common with other lines of business suffered somewhat from the financial depression which afflicted the country in the early 1880's. Even through this period the ardor of our members was not lessened nor their vigilance relaxed in the cause of trade protection. In the meantime, the meetings of the organization had been held in various places, until 1892 when steps were taken to establish permanent quarters, and in November of that year, office and club rooms were secured at 197 E. Madison Street, which were open at all times for the use of the members.
The association at this time consisted of 160 members which was but a comparatively small percentage of those engaged in carrying on the plumbing business. Realizing that there were a large number of firms outside the association, plans were formulated for the establishment of auxiliary associations in various parts of the city, and with the cooperation of the officers and members, the numerical strength of the organization was soon increased to more than 700 members, which was at that time more than 90 percent of all the men engaged in the business. This enabled the officers of the association to establish new trade conditions under which they were able to institute many needed reforms and eliminate many encroachments which has previously aided in demoralizing the trade.