Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex - Chicago, IL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member adgorn
N 41° 52.177 W 087° 42.643
16T E 441019 N 4635544
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex includes the Sears Merchandise Building Tower and the Sears, Roebuck and Company Administration Building.
Waymark Code: WM66WD
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 04/14/2009
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member deano1943
Views: 3

Founded in 1893, Sears, Roebuck and Company was the country's largest mail order concern by 1900. Since its construction in 1905-6, the Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex, situated on Chicago's west side, has been symbolic of that company's dominance of the mail order industry. The complex contains the printing plant that for many years produced the Sears Catalog, the company's principal selling instrument. Four significant structures, all constructed of red brick and dating from the complex's completion, were included in the original submission. They are the five-story Administration Building which served as company headquarters until 1973 (replaced by The Sears Tower in downtown Chicago) and in which Richard Sears, Julius Rosenwald, and General Robert E. Wood presided over the company during their respective administrations; the nine-story Mail Order Plant whose 3 million square feet of floor space, says Groner, "made it the world's largest business building at the time;" the six-story Merchandise Development and Laboratory Building which from 1906 to 1923 served as printing plant for the famous Sears catalogue; and the one-story Power Plant which provides heating and cooling for the entire complex.

In 1904 Sears, Roebuck and Company purchased 4l.6 acres on Chicago's west side and commissioned the architectural firm of Nimmons and Fellows to design a plant. The Thompson-Starrett Company received the construction contract, and ground was broken on January 24, 1905. The proposed complex was "so large that they were compelled to ask the City Council of Chicago to close certain streets so that they might build over them.

Seven thousand men were hired for the project, and each day 60 freight car loads of building materials were used. Eventually, 23 million brick and almost 15 million feet of lumber were consumed in the completing the project. By October 1906 the Mail Order Plant was complete, and on January 22, 1906, the company transferred its entire operations to the new facility. In later years, Sears added to the complex a merchandise manufacturing facility, a sunken garden, parking decks and lots, an automotive center, an Allstate Insurance Building, a distribution facility, a construction and display building, and numerous support structures. Until 1973, when the 110-story Sears Tower, the world's tallest building, was completed in downtown Chicago, the Sears,Roebuck and Company Complex served as the firm's headquarters.

The Administration Building north-facing building is a fivestory, I-shaped, red brick structure which measures 133 by 432 feet and sits on a partially raised full basement. Probably the most notable exterior feature is the two-story pedimented entrance portico located near the center of the front (north) facade. Made of several varieties of marble, it has Corinthian and Ionic columns on the first and second levels respectively, decorated entablatures, a carved marble balustrade, and a simple pedimented roof. On the first-story level three doorways are set in decorated surrounds and feature double wooden doors with glass panels and transoms.

The Mail Order Plant's surviving feature is a centrally located square-shaped, 14-story projecting entrance tower on its front (east) facade. Also built of brick, this structure differs little architecturally from the plant itself except on the 14th story, where a sandstone course sets off three windows and their ornate rounded hoodmoulds. The tower is capped with a high-hipped roof covered with red clay tile.

The Merchandise Development and Laboratory Building, an L-shaped, six-story brick structure, located approximately 57 feet east of the Administration Building, originally served as printing plant for the famous Sears catalogue.

Of the original 41.6-acre complex, an area of 16 acres was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978. The Mail Order Plant was recently demolished except for the tower to make way for new housing and other uses.
Street address:
925 S. Homan Avenue
Chicago, IL USA

County / Borough / Parish: Cook County

Year listed: 1978

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event

Periods of significance: 1900-1924

Historic function: Commerce/Trade

Current function: Commerce/Trade

Privately owned?: yes

Season start / Season finish: From: 01/01/2009 To: 12/31/2009

Hours of operation: From: 9:00 AM To: 5:00 PM

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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