For this week’s Throwback Thursday we journey back to June 12, 1958 for the dedication of the Epstein designed & engineered Headquarters for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (JFMC) at 1 South Franklin. This $1.5M ($12.3M in 2014), 66,000 square foot office building served not only as the JFMC’s main administration building but also housed affiliated agencies including the Jewish Children’s Bureau, the Jewish Family and Community Services, the Jewish Vocational and Employment Service, the Jewish Welfare Fund of Chicago and the Combined Jewish Appeal of Metropolitan Chicago.
At the dedication Illinois Governor William Stratton described this building as a ‘splendid symbol of the spirit, strength, and importance of Jewish charitable efforts.’ In addition, this building was in essence the heart of philanthropic life for the Jewish community in Chicago striving to help not only the Jewish community but also the Chicagoland region in developing solutions for ‘common problems of living’ including family issues, illness, aging, homelessness and child abuse. This goal was made very clear in the cornerstone inscription which read – ‘To the welfare of the Jewish community and to the benefit of all mankind.’
The JFMC called this building their home until 2006 when they moved into their current headquarters at 30 S. Wells. But, Epstein’s involvement with this building still continued after the JFMC moved. The La Quinta Corporation looking for a location for their flagship Chicago hotel identified this building as the perfect spot. Epstein was then hired by La Quinta to renovate and reconfigure this office building into a new, modern Hotel – a task which was completed in 2009 when La Quinta Inn & Suites opened.