Sunday, February 22, 2015

Maurice L. Rothschild & Co. Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Maurice L. Rothschild & Co. Building (1906/1910/1931) Holabird & Roche/Alfred S. Alschuler, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When Maurice L. Rothschild opened his clothing store in 1906, the building, designed by architects Holabird & Roche, was much smaller than the structure we see today. The original, 8-story building went from end to end of the property line along the Jackson Street side of the lot (the shaded, fire-escaped facade) but extended only two window bays beyond its angled corner along State Street (the sun-filled side of the picture). In 1910, after 4 years of booming business, Rothschild had the architects extend the State Street facade another 3 bays, and added another floor, growing upward from eight stories to nine. Then in 1929, architect Alfred Alschuler drew-up plans for the final State Street bay, and by 1931, added another three floors to top-off the previous nine. Whew. You might be able to pick out some of the additions if you look closely at the photos. Notice how one of the vertical, white, terra cotta piers along State is thicker than the others, that marks the line of the original 2 bays. It may be a little easier to see where Alschuler begins and Holabird & Roche end.

  [Maurice L. Rothschild & Co. Building, 300 S. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Growing the physical plant as revenues grew was not uncommon among the retailers of State Street. Marshall Field did it, as did the Netchers with their Boston Store, as well as Schlesinger & Mayer's ever expanding Louis Sullivan designed store, which continued to grow under the ownership of Carson Pirie Scott & Co.

  [Maurice L. Rothschild & Co. Building/John Marshall Law School, Loop Retail National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Rothschild came to Chicago from Germany as a young man in the early 1880s. After a stint as a clerk in a dry goods store on Madison Street, he headed out to Seneca, Kansas where he opened his own store with dreams of someday coming back to Chicago and opening a retail establishment on Chicago's famed State Street. After opening a store in Minneapolis, where his sister Gusta lived, Rothschild was ready to take on the Chicago market in 1903. He secured a 99-year ground lease for the property on the southwest corner of State and Jackson, and by 1906, another of Holabird & Roche's cutting-edge, Chicago School-famed, modern designs was rising out of the ground.
Maurice was not the first Rothschild to be located on Chicago's premiere retail thoroughfare. Abraham Rothschild had opened A.M. Rothschild & Co. on State Street in 1895, which it just so happened, stood directly across from Maurice's emporium. Abraham committed suicide in 1902, and his widow married Maurice Rothschild three years later.
Rothschild prospered along with his store and when he died in 1941, the former clerk left an estate worth $17 million. Maurice L. Rothschild & Co. closed their State Street location in 1971 and leased out the ground floor space for retail purposes, while renting the upper floors to the nearby John Marshall Law School in 1973. John Marshall now owns the building, and when the Walgreen's retail lease expired last year, the law school took over the 50,000 square feet and is in the midst of converting the space into a new main entry for the school, a student commons, and a bookstore.

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