Western Electric Company II, Graybar, Clinton Complex, Gotham Lofts
Life Span: 1883-Present
Location: Clinton & Van Buren Street
Architects: Treat & Foltz.
Chicago Tribune, April 15, 1883
To the Western Electric Company, for a four-story factory, 250×50 feet, at No. 251 Clinton street, to cost $80,000
Chicago Tribune, December 9, 1883
The largest and most expensive building erected on the West Side was the Western Electric Manufacturing Company’s new home at the corner of Van Buren and Clinton streets, built by Messrs. Treat & Foltz. It is four stories in height, has walls of Anderson brick, and is in every way substantially built.
Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1889
The Western Electric Company will build a two-story addition to the north wing of their building on Clinton street after plans by Treat & Foltz. It will be of mill construction, with pressed brick exterior, and will cost $10,000.
A History of the City of Chicago, The Inter Ocean, 1900
In the fall of 1871 the Western Electric Manufacturing Company was organized, a consolidation of the factory of Gray & Barton (Graybar) of Chicago and the shops of the Western Union Telegraph Company, at Ottawa, forming a nucleus, which rapidly developed into a manufacturing establishment at that time second to none in the country.
The company was capitalized at $150,000, a capital which was soon found too small to suit the rapidly in creasing business, and within three years from its organization the capital was doubled. General Anson Stager, formerly vice-president of the Western Union Telegraph Company, was the first president of the new organization,and continued in that capacity up to the time of his death.
The manufactory of the company was originally located at 220 to 232 East Kinzie street, where it was continued until the winter of 1883, the name of the company being changed in the meantime by dropping the word “Manufacturing.” During the period from 1872 to 1883 the principal lines of manufacture engaged in by the company were printing telegraph instruments, Morse telegraph instruments, fire and burglar alarms and batteries. Electric lighting was taken up in 1880, the company first acting as agents for other manufacturers, and afterward engaging in the manufacture of apparatus of their own design. They were among the first to enter the field of series arc lighting, and the rapid increase in the demand for this apparatus, together with telephone apparatus , which they had taken up about the same time, made it necessary to increase their facilities, as well as their capital.
In the year 1883 the Western Electric Company erected its first building on the site of its present works. The buildings had a frontage of 249 feet on Clinton street and were four stories high. In 1887 an extension of 60 feet was made on Clinton street. This gave the company a four-story building, extending from the alley south of Van Buren to Congress street, with a frontage of 309 feet. In 1889 and 1890 two stories were added to the entire block, making the building six stories high. From this time on new buildings were gradually being added to the original building.
In 1892 and 1894 the building on Clinton street, south of Congress, was purchased . In 1895 work was commenced on the building facing on Jefferson street. In 1897 five stories were added to the two-story building formerly erected on Jefferson street. The upper part of the building on Jefferson and Congress streets was designed for the general offices of the company. In the spring of 1899 the building, ten stories high, was completed on Clinton street, south of Congress street, the eighth story of which forms a continuation of the general offices.
Numerous other buildings have been erected, until at the present time the buildings occupy the greater part of the two blocks extending between Jefferson and Clinton streets, and from Van Buren to Harrison streets. The floor space of the buildings now in use approximates 1,000,000 square feet.
In 1898 a steel stack resting upon a brick and stone foundation was erected. The brick portion is 75 feet high. The remaining portion is of steel, lined with fire-brick. The extreme height of the stack is 203 feet. Its internal diameter is 12 feet. This chimney has a capacity for 3,500 horsepower .
The Western Electric Company manufactures arc and incandescent lighting dynamos and power apparatus, arc and incandescent lamps, telegraph testing and measuring instruments, fan motors, electric-light fixtures, wires, cables, electric light and general supplies.
Mr. E. M. Barton is president of the company and Mr. C. D. Crandall is the manager at Chicago. The company has additional offices and factories in New York, London, Antwerp, Berlin and Paris, the head quarters of the company being in Chicago.
Chicago Tribune, July 13, 1997
Fifield Realty Corp. has acquired the giant Clinton Complex, a group of 15 commercial loft buildings at 500 S. Clinton St. in Chicago’s burgeoning West Loop neighborhood and plans a residential conversion for a portion of the property.
The 640,000-square-foot complex—bounded by Van Buren, Clinton, Harrison and Jefferson Streets—is bisected by the Eisenhower Expressway.
Steven D. Fifield, president of Chicago-based Fifield Realty Corp., said he plans to convert four buildings on the north side of the complex to residential lofts in a development called Gotham Lofts Chicago.
Eleven commercial loft buildings, bordered by Congress, Clinton, Harrison and Jefferson on the south half of the complex, contain a total of 420,000 square feet of rentable space.
“The commercial loft phase of the Clinton Complex will be upgraded and continue to be leased to a variety of industrial and light manufacturing tenants,” said Richard Blum, vice president finance of Fifield Realty.
Some of the current commercial loft tenants will be relocated from the north buildings to the south side of the Clinton Complex.
Fifield Realty plans an extensive upgrade of the Clinton Complex, including new comprehensive signage, refurbished entrance lobbies, updated security systems, landscaping, tuckpointing and roof repairs.
Built between the late 1880s and the turn of the century, the Clinton Complex formerly served as the corporate headquarters for Western Electric Corp. and had been owned by Crown family interests for 50 years.
Financing for Gotham Lofts Chicago was provided by Corus Bank. G.E. Capital Corp. and Fifield Realty Corp. are the owners.
“Preliminary plans for Gotham Lofts Chicago call for 187 lofts in two phases,” said Fifield, who has obtained a zoning change to permit conversion of the four buildings, bounded by Van Buren, Clinton, Tilden Court and Jefferson, into condominiums. The four buildings contain 220,000 square feet of space.
Plans for the first phase of Gotham Lofts Chicago call for 126 loft condominium residences in three six-story to eight-story buildings. Pre-construction base prices range from $89,900 to $179,900.
Architect Patrick FitzGerald & Associates has designed 25 floor plans for Gotham Lofts Chicago. The one- and two-bedroom lofts in phase one will have 617 to 1,253 square feet of living area.
Phase II will consist of 61 lofts in the fourth six-story residential building. Pre-construction base prices will range from $109,900 to $189,900 for one- and two-bedroom loft condominiums with 797 to 1,348 square feet of living space.
There will be 181 parking spaces for residents at Gotham Lofts Chicago–122 outdoor spaces, 31 covered spaces and indoor heated parking for 28 cars.
“Gotham Lofts Chicago will be a secured, gated community with only two direct access points to the buildings–one for each phase,” said Fifield. “Secondary secured entrances will be available through the secured parking areas, allowing for 100 percent private access.”
All residents will be able to enjoy an Italianesque landscaped courtyard area at Gotham Lofts Chicago. The courtyard will be accented with such amenities as barbecues and benches.
All units will feature their own outdoor space–a balcony or patio–fireplaces, wood floors in the kitchen, living and dining areas and a modern, full-appliance kitchen. Each residence also will have individually controlled heating and cooling systems.
Award winning designer John Robert Wiltgen Design Inc. is designing the sales center and two furnished model condominiums for Gotham Lofts Chicago, said Fifield.
William Senne and Michael Golden of Property Consultants Inc. are exclusive marketing agents for Gotham Lofts Chicago.
500 S. Clinton
Western Electric Company
Robinson Fire Insurance Map
Western Electric Company Plant
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map