Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex

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Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex
Sears Merchandise Building Tower.jpg
Sears Merchandise Building Tower
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex is located in Chicago
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex is located in Illinois
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex is located in the US
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex
Location 925 S. Homan Avenue, North Lawndale, Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates 41°52′10″N 87°42′42″W / 41.86944°N 87.71167°W / 41.86944; -87.71167Coordinates: 41°52′10″N 87°42′42″W / 41.86944°N 87.71167°W / 41.86944; -87.71167
Area 16 acres (65,000 m2)[1]
Built 1905
Built by Thompson-Starrett Co.
Architect Nimmons & Fellows
Architectural style No Style Listed
NRHP Reference # 78001129
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 2, 1978[2]
Designated NHL June 2, 1978[3]

Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex is a complex in Chicago that includes the Sears Merchandise Building Tower and the Sears, Roebuck and Company Administration Building. It was the headquarters and main operations for all parts of the Sears Roebuck Company for almost seven decades.[4]

  • Original Sears Tower 1906
  • Automatic Telephone Switchboard 1906
  • Long distance operators switchboard 1906
  • Catalog printing facilities 1906
  • Pneumatic tube system 1906
  • Administration Building 1906
  • Drinking fountains (300), and Moving Stairway escalator 1920
  • Recreation room and library
  • WLS radio station 1924
  • Sears first retail outlet 1926
  • Allstate Insurance 1931
  • Allstate building 1945
  • Homart Development Company 1959
  • Parking deck 1960, added needs for employee parking.

Of the original 41.6-acre (168,000 m2) complex, an area of 16 acres (65,000 m2) was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978.[1][3]

A development named Homan Square has, in recent years, been constructed which consists of new residences, retail, and a community center on the site of the old Sears headquarters. Homan Square is often used as an example of the gradual turn around of North Lawndale. Included in this reconstruction effort is the massive rehabilitation of the Homan Square Power House, into the Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center—a LEED Platinum historic renovation designed by Farr Associates.

Relatedly, the current National Historic Landmark status statement questions whether the site, given changes, should be continued as a National Historic Landmark.[3]


Early catalog advertising of 1906 invited customers to come to Chicago to tour the facilities as their time permitted when visiting Chicago. This included not only the merchandise building, but also the advertising building, administration building, and power house.

In the 1920s extensive athletic facilities were added and athletic field events. They encouraged after-work socialization to keep high morale among their employees. Included were a clubhouse and tennis courts, and the Sears Department of the YMCA. Events included an annual track and field competitions, and company baseball teams. WLS radio formerly broadcast from the 11th floor. An image of the building was used on the Sears catalogue during the early part of the 20th century.

Automobile parking created change[edit]

By 1926, the first ground level parking lots replaced the athletic fields. This happened at the same time that a strategic shift from catalog sales to retail stores had started with easy auto travel making travel to a store more practical.

A city in a city[edit]

By 1943 the complex had become a city within itself. Sears created their own services for effective use, much advanced beyond what was required at the time.

  • Company fire department, with volunteer firemen, and early use of fire sprinklers.
  • Power station - generated power for all facilities.
  • 200,000-gallon water tank, water use and fire prevention purposes.
  • Newspaper publicity office.
  • Testing laboratory - new products.
  • Cafeteria - originally men and women were separated, and multiple levels of service for all employee lunch and breakfast.
  • Sears Bank - services for employees on site.

Sears Merchandise Building Tower[edit]

Sears Merchandise Building Tower
General information
Location 925 South Homan Avenue, Lawndale, Chicago, Illinois 60624
Construction started 1905
Completed 1906
Roof 76 m (249 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 15
Floor area 3,000,000 square feet (300,000 m2) 1906
Design and construction
Architect George G. Nimmons - William K. Fellows

The Sears Merchandise Building Tower is a small part of a building that was used by Sears as a retail headquarters and distribution center. Officially opened in 1906 it was the 40-acre (160,000 m2) home of Sears, Roebuck & Co., Chicago.[4] The 3.3 million ft² office building attached to the tower was later demolished.

Sears, Roebuck and Company Administration Building[edit]

The Sears, Roebuck and Company Administration Building was the headquarters for, Sears, Roebuck and Company, the largest mail order and merchandise company in the United States for over sixty years.[6] It was located on the northern edge of the North Lawndale community area of Chicago, Illinois. It was listed as a Chicago Landmark on September 4, 2002 at the 3333 W. Arthington Street address.[6] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark on June 2, 1978 at the 925 S. Homan Avenue, which is around the corner.[3]

Early brands used local names[edit]

  • Homart - Homan Avenue building location. 1934
  • Tower - Original Sears Tower. 1950

Movies that used the site as a location[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ralph J. Christian (n.d.). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying 7 photos, exterior and interior, from 1977 and undated. PDF (1.36 MB)
  2. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  4. ^ a b c Historic Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog Plant, ISBN 0-7385-3977-5, Early foundings of the Sears company.
  5. ^ Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex at Emporis
  6. ^ a b "Sears, Roebuck and Company Administration Building". City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 

External links[edit]