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Schulze Baking Company Plant

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Schulze Baking Company Plant
1914-15 Schulze Baking Company Factory.jpg
Schulze Baking Company Factory (c.1914-15)
Schulze Baking Company Plant is located in Greater Chicago
Schulze Baking Company Plant
Location 40 East Garfield Boulevard
(55th Street and Wabash Avenue)
Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates 41°47′44″N 87°37′29″W / 41.79556°N 87.62472°W / 41.79556; -87.62472Coordinates: 41°47′44″N 87°37′29″W / 41.79556°N 87.62472°W / 41.79556; -87.62472
Built 1913
Architect Ahlschlager,John & Son
Architectural style No Style Listed
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP November 12, 1982

Schulze Baking Company Plant is a factory building located on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is located at 40 East Garfield Boulevard (also described as 55th Street and Wabash Avenue)[2] in the Washington Park community area in Cook County. Built in 1914, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 12, 1982. Originally built for the Schulze Baking Company, it was the home of the Hostess Brands' Butternut Bread until 2004.[3]

The building features a terra cotta exterior with ornamentation that pays tribute to Louis Sullivan.[4] The original flooring is made of reinforced concrete.[2] In the early 21st century, the building fell into a state of disrepair.[5]

Location and function[edit]

Schulze Plant location (Chicago Park District - green, Dan Ryan Expressway - purple)

The building is located between the western edge of Washington Park and the Dan Ryan Expressway along a section of Garfield Boulevard that formerly hosted prominent businesses such as the Wanzer Milk Company and the Schulze Baking Company. The area has suffered from economic decay and crime. One of the few significant remaining businesses in the old Black Belt was the Butternut Bread Company, which occupied the building.[3]

According to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, it currently functions as an Industry/Processing/Extraction - processing site, and its original historical function was as an Agriculture/Subsistence - processing site.[6]

Baking company[edit]

The Schulze Baking Company's Jeffrey Apron Conveyor. (1920)

Schulze with its signature Schulze Butternut Bread formed the starting company that eventually became Interstate Bakeries Corporation/Hostess Brands. The business was once Chicago's largest wholesale business entity.[3] Although, according to Form 10-K filings by the Interstate Bakeries Corporation with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, the Schulze Baking Company was not formed until 1927, many records contradict this claim.[7] Historical accounts of Chicago claim that Paul Schulze, 1910-11 president of the National Association of Master Bakers, started the Schulze Baking Company in 1893 with his brothers.[8] Interstate's own company history even confirms the 1893 beginning of Schulze.[9]

In 1912, prior to the construction of the plant, the company had four baking plants throughout the city of Chicago and general offices in the Chicago Stock Exchange Building on LaSalle Street in the Chicago Loop.[8] In the 1910s, the company had extensive legal battles regarding protecting its trademarks.[10]

In 1921 Paul Schulze sold control of the company to Ralph Leroy Nafziger.[11] In 1930 Nafziger announced the formation of Interstate Bakeries through the merger of Schulze Baking and Western Bakeries of Los Angeles to form Interstate Bakeries. Schulze and Western continued to maintain their own separate companies under the Interstate umbrella until 1937 when Schulze formally became Interstate.

Paul Schulze went on to operate small bakeries elsewhere under the name of Schulze and Burch Biscuit Company.[11]


The building is a white terra cotta structure designed by John Ahlschlager in 1914 for the Schulze Baking Company.[3] The terra cotta walls were five storeys high.[4] The building featured blue lettering, foliated cornice ornamentation, and stringcourses of rosettes.[4] The building uses 700 windows grouped to complement the ornamentation's allusion to themes of nature and purity.[4] The ornamentation is considered abstract, Sullivanesque and modern.[4] The company used Apron conveyor manufactured by the Jeffrey Manufacturing Company of Columbus, Ohio.[12] A lengthy low industrial complex extends northward behind the main five-story building.[5]

The structure has a flat concrete slab floor with four-way reinforcement designed to support 300 pounds per square inch (2,100 kPa).[2] The dimensions of the building 298 feet 4 inches (90.93 m) by 160 feet (49 m) and it is composed of floor space segmented into 17 feet 6 inches (5.33 m) by 20 feet (6.1 m).[2] The second floor is 9 inches (23 cm) thick except in the 7 feet 6 inches (2.29 m) square surrounding each column where it is 14 inches (36 cm) thick.[2]

As of late 2008, the building was showing signs of wear, disrepair and neglect. At least one terra cotta cornice was missing, and the building had numerous walkway coverings to protect passersby from falling debris such as further terra cotta loss. One side wall was propped up with wood beams at 45 degree angles. In addition, the building has some graffiti markings.[5]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Talbot, Arthur N. and Willis A. Slater (January 1916). "Tests of Reinforced Concrete Flat Slab Structures". University of Illinois. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Butternut bread-maker closing Chicago bakery". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Sinkevitch, Alice, ed. (2004). "South Side: Chicago Baking Company, International Brands Corporation (Schulze Baking Company)". AIA Guide to Chicago (2nd ed.). Harcourt, Inc. p. 428. ISBN 0-15-602908-1. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  5. ^ a b c Powers, Robert (2008-10-12). "Chicago Baking Company". A Chicago Sojourn. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  6. ^ "Property Information Report". Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. 2002. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  7. ^ "Form 10-K: Interstate Bakeries Corporation". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  8. ^ a b Currey, Josiah Seymour (1912). "Chicago: Its History and Its Builders". Multiple volumes. p. 429. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  9. ^ "Interstate Bakeries Corporation". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  10. ^ "Decisions of the Commissioner Patents and of the United States Courts Patent Trade-mark Copyright Cases, 1917". 234-245. United States Patent Office/United States Department of the Interior. 1917. p. 171. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ "Jeffrey Apron Conveyor". Ohio Pix. Ohio Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 

External links[edit]