News / 8.20.15

Throwback Thursday - Louis Zahn Drug Co.

60s-era wholesale pharmaceutical distribution center featuring 'cutting-edge' automated technology

We take a trip back to February 1964 for this week's Epstein Throwback Thursday to highlight the grand opening of a 120,000 square foot office and distribution center for Louis Zahn Drug Co. This building, located at 1930 George Street in Melrose Park, Illinois, was designed and engineered by Epstein to help Louis Zahn, a wholesale pharmaceutical distributor founded in 1931, with better servicing their hospital and pharmacy clients. At the time Louis Zahn sold and distributed pharmaceuticals and sundries to more than 1,000 hospitals and pharmacies located throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.

The real, and for the era, cutting-edge centerpiece to this building was the Epstein engineered fully automated filling line which was directed by 'high-speed' computer programming equipment. This system allowed for the Louis Zahn to rapidly and more efficiently fill orders from their customers all in a modern environment which, best of all, was fully air conditioned! This building also featured a model drug store to simulate their clients operations as well as staging area and shipping warehouse.

Louis Zahn occupied this building until the late 80s and, in fact, had Epstein design and engineer another separate data processing facility in Melrose Park in the mid-70s. In 1988, Louis Zahn sold itself to a FoxMeyer, a subsidiary of National InterGroup Inc., a $3.4 billion drug distribution conglomerate based in Pittsburgh.

This building still stands and is now home to a variety of small businesses. From the street view images available on Google the building looks to be in pretty good shape, although there has been a fairy extensive western addition made to the building which thankfully copied the clean lines and proportions of the original design.

Lastly, for you White Sox fans, you can thank Louis Zahn himself for the Sox staying in Chicago. You see Louis was on the White Sox Board of Directors during the 70s and he was one of several Chicago-are businessmen which helped keep the Sox from moving to Seattle to replace the defunct Seattle Pilots.