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Montgomery Ward Complex 600 West
Life Span: 1908-Present
Location: 618 W. Chicago avenue
Architect: Richard E. Schmidt, Garden & Martin
MONTGOMERY WARD & CO. building, at 618 W. Chicago avenue, was completed in 1908. Richard E. Schmidt, Garden & Martin were the architects and engineers. This eight-story and basement building was one of the first large reinforced concrete buildings in Chicago of skeleton construction, if not indeed the first. It is carried on piles, 40 feet to 50 feet in length.
Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1906
Montgomery Ward & Co. have acquired another piece of property along the north branch of the river in the purchase from Theodore Oehne, president of the Seipp Brewing company, of 180 feet frontage on the south side of Chicago avenue. The property extends from the St. Paul railroad tracks to the north branch, on which it has a frontage of 280 feet. The price paid was $85,000.
The property formerly belonged to Ernst Bros., who started the erection of large brewery there, but completed only the foundation, when the property was sold to the beer concern.
It lies directly across the street from the Rice property, which together with the Shufeldt holding, practically has been acquired by Ward & Co. As in the case of the property purchased early in the week by Ward & Co., on Kingsbury street, just south of Erie street, no definite plans have yet been made regarding its improvement.
Chicago Tribune, June 22, 1906
Plans are being pushed on the huge buildings to be erected on the north branch by Montgomery Ward & Co. and Sprague, Warner & Co. The Ward building will be one of the largest structures in the world, with practically fifty acres of floor space, or nearly 2,250,000 square feet. It will be nine stories high and 275×900 feet ground dimensions and will cost $2,500,000.
Montgomery Ward Comnplex
The Engineering Record, May 11, 1907
The Contractor’s Plant Used in Constructing the Montgomery Ward Building, Chicago.
An eight-story reinforced concrete building covering an area of over 3 acres is under construction in Chicago, at Chicago Ave. and the north branch of the Chicago River, for Montgomery Ward & Co. The site of the building is between the river and the two main line tracks of the Evanston division of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Ry. A bend in the river occurs at the site and the railroad follows this bend: so the building is irregular in plan, being I50 ft. wide at one end, 750 ft. long and 270 ft. wide at the other end. The building will extend up to a concrete clock that is under construction along the harbor line on the river side. On the opposite side the outer wall of the building is parallel to and 30 ft. from the center of the adjacent main line railroad track for a length of about 420 ft. from the narrow end of the building. and then makes an angle of approximately 30 deg., corresponding to the bend in the river; the railroad curves at that point, and beyond the curve the side of the building is parallel to the tracks again, abutting on a narrow city street between it and the tracks.
Solid rock lies at a depth of over 100 ft. at the site and the upper strata of soil over it are of such character that all the footings of the building are to be placed on piles. A basement with its floor 4 ft. above the river and 10 ft. below the street grade, which is about the grade of the railroad tracks, will be provided under all of the building, except under a strip 85 ft. wide above the angle on the railroad side where four switch tracks will extend into the building slightly below the level of the first floor. The building will be built in regular longitudinal and trans-serve bays, except where angles are introduced by the irregularity of the site, the bays having the same dimensions on all floors in order to simplify the form work and the construction.
The site was nearly all covered with old brick buildings of various sizes which were occupied by a brewery1 and by several small factories. After these buildings had been removed, the excavation for the basement was started with a Vulcan steam shovel having a 1½-yd. dipper. The excavated material was hauled from the shovel to the river in 3-yd. cars operated in trains with light locomotives on narrow-gauge tracks laid on the bottom of the excavation. The material was dumped at the river into scows in which it was towed out into Lake Michigan. The shovel worked against a face of 10 to 15 ft., the material encountered varying from river silt, muck and the footings of the old buildings at the surface to stiff clay at the basement floor level. The total excavation amounted to 58,000 cu. yd., the contract for this work being executed by James J. Lynch. of Chicago.
One of the Four 135-Ft. Steel Derrlcks.
The building requires a few more than 13,000 piles to carry its ‘footings. These piles are from 40 to 55 ft. long and are generally driven their full length, bringing up on the harder strata of clay deeper down. The pile driving was started as soon as enough of the excavation had been made so the driving outfits could be placed. Three ordinary land driving outfits, with steam hammers, have been used for all of the work back from the river, and a floating outfit will be installed to drive the piles for the dock and those along the river side of the building. About 70 per cent. of the piles have been driven, the work being done by Walsh & Masterson, of Chicago. The clay at the site has so much tenacity and the piles are necessarily so close together that as the driving progresses the soil rises until in places it is 2 to 3 ft. above the bottom of the original excavation.
The general contract for the erection of the building was awarded to the George . Fuller Co., of Chicago, on a cost-plus-percentage basis. The building is to be erected practically as a monolith, that is, the whole structure will be carried up a floor at a time, so no space will be afforded on any part of the site for storing materials. The space around the building is very limited and is so located that the greatest problem of the construction is therefore to supply materials to all parts of the work at the proper time and in the most economical manner. In a steel-frame building the steel work could be fabricated readily in such a way that it might be placed in position directly from the wagons or cars on which it would be delivered. On the other hand, with a concrete structure of this size, in which about 100,000 cu. yd. of concrete, 5,500 tons of reinforcing metal, over 4,000,000 ft. board measure of lumber, 5,000,000 brick, and so forth, are required, it is necessary to have a large amount of materials on hand to keep the concrete mixing plants in continuous service.
Along the river side there is, of course, no storage space available, and as the narrow end of the building faces on a busy street nothing can be placed in the latter. About half of a space, which in plan is approximately the quadrant of a circle with a 275-ft. radius, is unoccupied at the wide end of the site, but owing to its location could not be utilized for storing concrete materials, and at any rate is completely covered with storage piles of lumber for forms and by a planing mill which the contractor has installed for making forms. A switch track extends around the end of this space and provides temporary storage for seven cars, which will be required for lumber, steel and so forth. The only space available, therefore, for handling concrete materials is between the building and the main line tracks of the railroad. The two tracks of the latter carry a large volume of traffic, so they must be kept free at all times. At the same time, the narrow space between the tracks and the building is occupied by a switch track on which construction materials are delivered, so no storage space whatever is available at the ground level.
A large storage plant through which the concrete materials will be handled mechanically has been erected toward the narrow end of the building and over the switch track between the latter and the main line tracks. Owing to the very narrow space available and to the necessity of providing sufficient clearance for cars on the adjacent main track, this plant is confined to a width of 22 ft. The plant consists of a storage bin, having a capacity of 700 cu. yd., erected over the switch track so box cars on the latter can pass under it, and a Robins conveying belt system elevating the materials to this storage bin. The sand and gravel are obtained from pits on the Chicago. Milwaukee & St, Paul Ry. near Elgin, Ill., about 30 miles from the city, and are delivered for the most part in bottom-dump or side-dump gondola cars. A receiving hopper is built under the switch track at the plant and is long enough to permit two cars to be unloaded into it simultaneously. The bottom of this hopper is on a 45-deg. slope toward the building side of the plant. An t8-in. horizontal Robins belt conveyor, 65 ft. between end pulleys, extends along that side of the receiving hopper at the level of the bottom of the latter. The gravel and sand are fed separately on this belt through twelve gate openings in the side of the hopper. These openings are each controlled by a very simple paddle-shape gate which turns on a single bolt at the top of the blade of the paddle portion. These gates have been found quite effectual in delivering a uniform quantity of materials to the conveyor, which is one of the essential factors in the economical operation of a belt-conveyor system.
Montgomery Ward Comnplex
The horizontal belt conveyor travels 400 ft. per minute, its rated capacity being 4,000 cu. ft. of materials per hour. This conveyor delivers at one end to a second18-in. Robins belt conveyor, 133 ft. between end pulleys, which runs up a 22 deg. incline on a trestle extending out from the end of the plant between the switch track and the building. The conveyor delivers at its upper end to a third 18-in. Robins belt conveyor, 117 ft. between end pulleys, which doubles back on a 22-deg. incline extending up over the end of the storage bins. This third conveyor passes over two fixed trippers and thence to an end delivery. Two gates are placed at each tripper and two at the end delivery so the materials can be discharged at any one of six points along the longitudinal axis of the bins. The fixed trippers enable one belt to be used and avoid the necessity of two short belts over the bins, as are usually employed, thus eliminating the separate drive that would be required for such belts. The two long inclined conveyors are driven from the same shaft by a 35-h-p.motor in a house at the upper end of the I33-ft. conveyor. The horizontal conveyor along the gates at the bottom of the bins is driven by the 133-ft. conveyor through a cross chain belt built by the Link Belt Chain Co. The motor driving the conveyors is controlled entirely by an attendant in a small house on the building side of the bins, this man also controlling the operation of a motor driving a concrete mixing plant in connection with the storage plant.
A l½-yd. Ransome mixer is set in the 8-ft. space between the side of the building and the structure which carries the storage bin. This mixer is driven by a 35-h.-p.motor and is set so it delivers on a platform at the level of the basement floor of the building. A charging hopper with a capacity the same as that of the mixer is built in a floor over the latter. Gravel and sand are fed into this hopper from the storage bins by gravity. About two carloads of cement in bags are stored on the floor over the mixer, and cement is supplied to the latter by hand, two men being able to handle this work.
The long distances over which the concrete has to be moved from the mixing plant to place in the building require some means of quick and certain transportation. Isolated mixing plants throughout the building were not considered feasible owing to the difficulty of supplying them with materials and of taking the concrete from them. These difficulties would of course be greatly enhanced by the fact that to every I7.5×17.5-ft. floor bay of the building sixteen supports for the forms will be required. For the same reasons, it was considered that the usual form of barrow hoists could not be operated satisfactorily. The original plan was to mix the concrete at the storage plant that has already been installed, and at a second storage and mixing plant of the same arrangement and capacity which was to be located over the switch track and toward the wide end of the building. The operation of the existing storage plant has demonstrated, however, that this plant will probably have sufficient capacity to supply materials to the mixing plant built in connection with it and to a second mixing plant of the same capacity, so a second storage plant will probably not be erected.
Four large steel derricks set so as to command the greater part of the site will handle the concrete in buckets from the mixers to place in the building. One of these derricks has been in service for two months and has demonstrated the practicability of this method of transporting the concrete. This derrick consists of a steel tower, 10 ft. square and 85 ft. high, in which is operated a cantilever steel mast, 135 ft. long, that carries an 80-ft. steel boon just above the top of the tower. The derrick covers a circular area 170 ft. in diameter and can lift to 150 ft. above its base, which is 15 ft. above the roof line of the building. The tower is guyed at the top by eight 3/4-in. cables, two at each corner, to anchorages buried under the basement floor level, The mast revolves on a pivot at its base and carries rollers at the level of the top of the tower which bear against a horizontal ring made of railroad rail that is carried by the tower. The boom, being entirely above the guys, can be turned through a complete circle without interfering with the guys.
The pivot on which the mast revolves is similar to those used for railroad turntables. A heavy cast-iron base resting on the footing for the derrick carries a hemispherical bronze casting; on this rests a steel cap of slightly larger radius, which is carried in the base of the mast. The bearing is thus steel on bronze and is designed so the pressure is always normal to the base, even when the derrick is tilted from the vertical by a heavy load.
The mast is revolved by a bull-wheel at the top of the tower, the two cables necessary to turn this wheel being brought over sheave wheels at the base of the tower. The boom is operated by the usual topping and hoisting lines, both of which are brought down through the center of the mast and through a hole in the center of the hearing at the base of the latter to sheave wheels under the derrick.
A 25-h.-p. double-drum electrically-operated Thomas hoist, equippedwith a derrick swinging spool and set at the level of the basement floor, operates the derrick. This hoist is run by an operator whose previous experience was with steam hoists only, and has given very satisfactory service.
The mast of the derrick was delivered to the sections, which were spliced together on the ground. The assembledmast was then erected in place with a guyed wooden derrick having an 85-ft. mast. It was guyed in position by the cables used afterward to guy the tower, and the latter was erected around it; the guys were transferredto the top of the tower when it was completed. The derrick is placed so a single floor panel only will have to be omitted in the construction of the building, and the guy cables are arranged so they will pass through pipe and sleeves in the floors without interfering with the construction of the floor girders at any point.
Special Concrete Dumping Bucket.
The original derricks of this size and type, but the adoption of a special type of dumping bucket for handling the concrete and of a system of portable Koppel narrow-gauge tracks for fiat cars to carry these buckets from the mixer to the range of the derricks has eliminated the necessity for four of the derricks. The derrick that is now in service can reach the concrete mixer and also a large portion of the narrow end of building, so that for work on the foundations a system of tracks is not required for this derrick. A second derrick similarly situated at the second mixing plant will also be able to work over the foundations within its range without a system of tracks during work on the foundations. The third and fourth derricks will require tracks from the start, and ‘the other two will require them after the lower part of the building has been erected. These tracks will extend along the basement floor from the mixing plants to the site of one of the elevator shafts or stair wells within the working radius of each derrick. The buckets will be delivered on the flat cars to these openings and then hoisted by the derricks to the floor on which work is in progress; the forms and the other materials will be handled in the same manner. As the derricks combine the hoisting and Swinging motions in one machine, they avoid the delay usually occurring in building construction in the distribution of the concrete after the latter has been brought to the desired level. As they can elevate and distribute materials to the roof level all necessity of raising them as the construction progresses is eliminated.
One of the special buckets that is used for handling the concrete is shown in an accompanying illustration. This bucket has a hopper bottom fitted with a direct hand-operated under cut gate of the type frequently used on chutes. The contents of the bucket may be discharged at any rate desired by Changing the amount of opening by the gate. Thin wall forts have been filled with these buckets very satisfactorily without wasting any concrete and without the excessive strain on the forms which results from a large quantity of concrete being dumped into the forms at a time. The buckets have also been used in placing concrete in comparatively thin layers while suspended from the derricks.
An angle-iron frame with four legs is built on the under side of each bucket, around the hop per bottom and gate of the latter, and the bucket stands on these four legs of the frame when it is not suspended from the derrick. In the construction of the portion of the building which within the range of any of the four der~ ricks the buckets will be set on elevated plat forms at the edge of the circles commanded by the derricks and the concrete will be hauled from them in wheelbarrows, this method having already been employed with good results on the foundations. The platforms are placed about 3 ft. above the level of the floor on which they stand, and wheelbarrows are filled one at a time from the buckets. These platforms are built large enough to hold two buckets, each of the latter having a capacity of 42 cu. ft., so concrete can be supplied fast enough to keep busy a large gang of men with wheelbarrows.
The efficiency of the system of portable narrow~gauge tracks and cars has been well demonstrated on this work in delivering sand and gravel from the elevated storage bins to a temporary concrete mixing plant. The latter is against the retaining wall on the railroad side of the building, at the level of the basement floor and 300 ft. from the storage bins. It embraces a 1-yd., motor-driven Smith mixer fed through a charging hopper having its top level with the platform built over the mixer, the plat form being level with the grade of the railroad tracks along the building. A portable narrow gauge Koppel track extends from the platform to the sand and gravel storage bin. The sand and gravel are fed into I-yd. ball-bearing Koppel dump cars at the storage bin and are delivered on this track by hand, the materials being dumped from the cars directly into the charging hopper. With a man at the feeding gates at the storage bin and two men each pushing a car, as high as 130cu. yd. of materials have been delivered from the storage bin to this temporary mixing plant. In fact, the sand and gravel are always supplied as fast as required at the latter.
The planing mill which the contractor has installed contains, in addition to a 24-in. motor~driven planer, two motor-driven rip saws. two motor-driven cut~oFf saws and a motor-driven band saw, boring machines, and so forth. The forms for the columns of the building are assembled complete in this mill. The two sides and the bottom of each girder form are built on templates in the planing mill, as the girders practically all have the same cross-section and length, and are assembled in place. A system of portable, narrow-gauge Koppel tracks extends from the lumber storage piles to the planing mill, and thence to those in the basement of the building. The lumber and forms will all be handled on cars on these tracks, and the latter being arranged so lumber that has to be sawed to length only is handled by one of the cut-off saws at the side of the mill and does not enter the latter.
The work is being carried on by the George A. Fuller Co., under the supervision of Mr. Edgar S. Belden, engineer and general superintendent for that company, who devised the derricks, concrete buckets, storage bins and so forth that have been described. The building was designed by Messrs. Richard Smith, Gardner & Martin, architects. of Chicago, who are also the engineers for the building.
Chicago Avenue Bridge #4
“Welcome Ward & Co. Chicago Ave. Bridge” Sign
Montgomery Ward Complex
1916 Fall & Winter Catalog
Montgomery Ward Complex
1916 Fall & Winter Catalog
Chicago Tribune. January 27, 1929
Foundations are now being Installed for the eight administrative building being erected by the Larrabee Bluilding corporation for Montgomery Ward & Co. at the southwest corner of Chicago avenue and street. This structure will occupy a site 160x 320 feet which was purchased by the late A. Montgomery Ward at the time he bought the land for Ward’s present huge building, just across the street.
Designed by the construction department of the mail order firm, under lie direction of W. H. McCaully, chief engineer, the. new building will be of modernistic architecture. At one corner there will be a tower surmounted by a figure reminiscent of the statue atop the Tower building at Michigan and Madison-Ward’s home.
The new building will contain the executive, Administrative and general offices and the clerical departments. The first floor will be for retail store purposes, replacing the establishment In the building the street. Clerical departments wil take up the second and third floors-
On the fourth floor there will be a large cafeteria for employees and for customers of the store. Executive departments of the chain store and retail store divisions will be found on the fifth story. The merchandise buying group will take up the sixth floor, while the catalog and general operating departments will be on the seventh. And, finally. the executives are to be located on the top floor where it’s presumed they’ll have walnut trimmed rooms, fireplaces, and the other perquisites of the “big shots.”
The building is to be of reinforced concrete construction. Financing is being accomplished by a $2.000,000 bond Issue recently announced by Lawrence Stern & Co. and the First Trust and Savings bank. Winston & Co. were the real estate brokers In arranging the enterprise. The Wells Brothers Construction company has the contract.
October 27, 1929
Chicago Tribune. October 27, 1929
A heating plant fueled by oil which will not send forth great clouds of smoke into Chicag’s skies. Fire escapes that are concealed within the building, instead of sprawling over the walls. All roof paraphernalia inclosed and architecturally treated.
These are a few contributions toward a better looking Chicago found in the new office and retail store building of Montgomery Ward & Co., to be opened on Friday on the south side of West Chicago avenue, occupying the block between Roberts street and the river.
This structure is eight stories high with a twelve story tower. The tower carries a gilded statue entitles “The Spirit of Progress,” Foundations have been installed capable of carrying additional floors when wanted. The structure will contain 450,000 square feet of floor space—or approximately ten acres.
The general and other offices of Montgomery Ward & Co. will be housed in the new structure, while the old building across the street will be used mainly for warehouse purposes. The retail store will occupy the entire ground floor and a part of the basement. Other features will be elaborate soundproofing precautions and the treatment of the roof, which will be tiled. Nd here is one roof area which will not go to waste, so to speak, for it will have a bandstand for open air concerts.
W. H. McCaully, engineer in charge of construction for the mail order firm, designed the structure. Some trouble was encountered in the construction of the building on the western side, because of the high water level of the river, due to the great rise in the lake level, but this was solved by the use of sheet steel piling.
Picture of Montgomery Ward & Co.’s new tower of West Chicago avenue, the feature of which is the statue “Spirit of Progress.” The building houses the offices of the firm and a retail establishment.
Montgomery Ward Comnplex
Henry H Shufeldt & Co.’s distillery was at this location from 1873 till the plant was moved to Peoria in 1904.