News / 5.26.16

Throwback Thursday – Standard Brands

54,000 sf food distribution & transportation service center featuring a ’59 Chevy Bel Air!

After last week's long form Throwback Thursday 'expose' on the International Amphitheatre, one of the more groundbreaking projects that we've designed and engineered during our nearly 95 year history, today we take a step back and cover a much more modest industrial building – the Standard Brands office & warehouse. Located at 3921 S. Karlov, within the Crawford Tract of Chicago's Central Manufacturing District (just south of the Stevenson & west of Pulaski), this 54,000 square foot distribution center and administrative office building, which was completed in April '61, served as Standard's facility for handling a variety of perishable and non-perishable food products.

The canal you see at the top of the photo is where the Stevenson is now.

This building, which featured masonry construction and dual bow-truss warehouse space, also included a transportation service center, a service shop for coffee equipment and an efficient distribution center material handling system for rail and truck loading and unloading.

Although the fairly 'generic' Standard Brands name probably doesn't ring a bell for any of you, this food company was created by banking magnet J.P. Morgan in 1929 who orchestrated the merger of the Fleischmann Company, the Royal Baking Powder Company, E.W. Gillett, Widlar Food Products Company and Chase & Sanborn Coffee Company. By 1940, Standard was the #2 brand of packaged goods (after General Foods) and by 1955 is was ranked 75th on the Fortune 500. Additionally, Standard acquired Planters in 1960, the Curtiss Candy Company in 1964 and Inver House scotch in 1979. Lastly, Standard merged with Nabisco in 1981 and became Nabisco Brands, Inc. (And that now does it for this week's edition of American food company trivia)

If you are curious, this building still stands, although a bit rough around the edges, and is now the home to Chuangyi Metals Corp., a company that specializes in copper scrap recycling.

Just one more thing…

One of the main reasons we chose to highlight the Standard Brands project today was the really sweet '59 Chevrolet Bel Air inexplicably featured in some of the photos you see here. We were very curious why this car happened to appear in the shots for a food warehouse and distribution center – was it the photographer's (Hubert Henry from Hedrich-Blessing)? Could it have belong to one of our architects? Or, was it the owner's? Well after some Columbo-like (if you are under 40 – google it) snooping through our photographic archives – we think we found the answer. It's the owner's. The photo you see here was not commissioned by Epstein or taken by Mr. Henry, but in fact taken by the Owner, and in the right foreground you can see the same awesome '59 Bel Air.

Case solved - Columbo would be proud!