THREATENED: After 150 Years, Standard Club to Close on May 1, 2020

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“Founded in 1869, The Standard Club was long a who’s who of Chicago Jewish business leaders. Early members included Julius Rosenwald, a former Sears president who helped found the Museum of Science and Industry, and Max Adler, a businessman and philanthropist who helped create the Adler Planetarium. Other notable members over the years have included Daniel Edelman, founder of the public relations firm bearing his name; Bulls and White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf; and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.”(Channick, Chicago Tribune, 3/5/2020)

“The Standard Club, wracked by operating losses and declining membership, is closing May 1.The question is whether it will survive in any form. “The club said it hired commercial real estate firm CBRE to seek potential buyers for all or part of its 13-story building at 320 S. Plymouth Court.

“The nearly century-old structure, needing costly upgrades, is an albatross, according to a former club president. Someone professing knowledge of the situation said the building is worth an estimated $15 million and its artwork an additional $1 million.

“Even though the club’s debt is less, a purported $7 million, this person says, “It’s obvious a liquidity event is necessary. The question is if anything can be worked out to save part of the facility for use by the members.”

“A vintage building like it would lay out well for a boutique hotel, according to Michael Reschke, whose Prime Group has been converting Loop office buildings. ‘It’s the hottest submarket in the city right now,’ he said before the announcement. ‘If they do put it on the market, we would take a look at it.”

“The location south of the federal courthouse is solid but not ‘premium Class A,’ said another converter, John Murphy, who redid the Oriental Theatre and the Chicago Motor Club buildings. “As a land site it might be worth more than the building itself.” (Strahler, Crain’s, 3/5/20)

This club was designed by Albert Kahn, an architect well known for his buildings linked to the automotive industry in Detroit, and one of only a handful of buildings by Kahn in Chicago. This club has an amazing history dating back to the early days of Chicago. Its exterior and interior spaces, including ballrooms, historic lobbies, murals by Sol LeWitt, and linoleum cuts of important events in Chicago history by Edgar Miller should all be protected by a Chicago Landmark Designation. We encourage The Standard Club to include a Landmark Designation as part of their process moving forward to recognize its important history.

Additional Reading

The Standard Club, long the social nexus for Chicago’s Jewish leaders, is closing May 1 amid financial struggles, Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune, 3/5/2020

Chicago’s elite Standard Club to close May 1; The 150-year-old organization asked members for a bailout late last year. David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 3/4/2020

Setting the Standard: Chicago Jewish club celebrates 150 years; Chicago’s Standard Club was formed on April 5, 1869, Paul Wieder, JUF News, 3/28/19

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