June 23, 2021
With our 100th anniversary less than a month away, we thought we’d shine the spotlight on where Epstein’s first headquarters were located: on the 6th floor of the Central Manufacturing District’s (CMD) iconic Clock Tower Building, a structure that was completed in 1915 at 2001 W. Pershing Road in Chicago.
For those of you not aware, the CMD was the first planned industrial development in the United States and its prominent tenants included Wrigley, Ford, Westinghouse, Rexall, Pullman, and hundreds of other manufacturing and industrial businesses.
It was out of this cramped and humble space that Abraham Epstein, along with trusted associates Bill Owen and J.M. Brandstetter, began operating as A. Epstein – Structural Engineer, primarily as the on-call engineer and architect for the rapidly-expanding CMD. Abraham, Bill and J.M. were associated with the CMD’s prior on-call architect, S. Scott Joy. However, Abraham was convinced by CMD management to venture out on his own with the assurance that Joy's work would now be directed to Abraham.
During the first decade of our existence, the Epstein firm worked on a series of projects within the CMD as well as signature projects like Live Stock National Bank, Chicago City Bank & Trust, and Chicago Furniture & Carpet Co., all buildings that still stand today.
Above image: Epstein staff in 1926
The Epstein firm worked out of the Clock Tower for more than a decade until the need for further space became an issue that could not be ignored. That problem was solved when Abraham designed our new headquarters, located right next door to the Clock Tower. This building served as our new home until 1983 after undergoing a number of additions in the 50 years we occupied the building. Now, that building, called the "A. Epstein Center," is home to the National Latino Education Institute.
Today, the Clock Tower Building sits vacant and sadly in a state of disrepair. While a few of the prominent CMD structures along Pershing Road are undergoing renovation or adaptive reuse, including the massive former Epstein-designed U.S. Cold Storage building, the Clock Tower building sits untouched with many windows missing and parts of the façade having been haphazardly replaced over the past couple of decades. It’s a shame that this structure, which sits adjacent to the beautiful McKinley Park and is still a striking symbol for Chicago and its industrial past, hasn’t found a second life, one that is befitting to its place in the development of Chicago.