News / 7.29.15

Throwback Thursday – Pfaelzer Brothers

One-story Modernist building that was designed to show the latest concept in refrigerated food processing

Our weekly Epstein Throwback Thursday trip takes us back to October 1961 for the opening of the new office and meat processing plant for the Pfaelzer Brothers, a company that specialized in providing high-quality meats for restaurants, hotels and institutions throughout the United States. Pfaelzer was purchased by Armour & Co. in 1959 and this building, located at 4500 W. 42nd Place in Chicago, was Ammour's first major investment in the Pfaelzer brand and was intended represent the latest concept in refrigerated food processing.

Armour and Pfaelzer asked Epstein's architects and engineers to design a building that would serve as 'the model' for the meat industry and not just look and operate like a typical non-descript industrial facility. Epstein's design team took those directions to heart and delivered a 79,000 square foot, one-story modernist gem that provided not only light and detailed office space for Pfaelzer's management and sales teams but also well organized and planned processing, assembly and refrigeration space featuring insulated aluminum panel construction.

One of the cool and for today's standards, pretty odd, features of the Pfaelzer building was that at the southeast corner an insulated passage was designed and constructed to connect with the Continental Freezers facility located in the next lot. Pfaelzer and Continental were vendors for one another and this covered, refrigerated pathway allowed for the easy transportation of goods between the two companies.

If you are curious about the current state of the Pfaelzer building (and, BTW the correct response is – of course I am!) sadly our answer is, alas, not great. Like many mid-century industrial buildings Pfaelzer was reduced to rubble once Armour was sold and the Pfaelzer name spun off into an independent mail order supplier of meats similar to Omaha Steaks. The building maybe gone, but at least we still have Pfaelzer's steaks!