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Johnson Publishing Bldg. Up for Landmark Status

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday the city’s former Johnson Publishing Co. building housed on downtown’s Michigan Ave. will be considered for landmark status.

The move will help protect and celebrate the 11-story building’s iconic, International Style, along with its decades-long affiliation with Black business and culture.

JPC building

“As we celebrate Black History Month, it is the perfect time to honor this building that stands tall as a decades-long epicenter of Black history and culture,” Mayor Emanuel said in a press release announcing the news. “This designation will cement this building’s status as a landmark that is not just part of the legacy of the city of Chicago, but the history of our nation.”

The building, located at 820 S. Michigan Ave., was completed in 1971. It was constructed by Johnson Publishing Co., which was founded in 1942 by John H. Johnson. Over the next six decades, Johnson turned the organization into the largest Black-owned company in the nation.

“This is the first office building to be built by an African-American in a major metropolitan city,” Linda Johnson Rice, chairman emeritus, Ebony Media said. “For it to be able to stand the test of time with all of its beauty and strength and the important leaders who walked through those doors, and to know it will still be there gives me a sense of fulfillment. I know my parents, John and Eunice Johnson are smiling down, knowing the building and legacy they built will have landmark status.”

The 110,000-square-foot building was designed by Black architect John Warren Moutoussamy and cost $8 million to construct.

“The design is a fitting reflection of the incredible business that it served to support, as well as Chicago’s role advancing the concepts of equality and civil rights,” said David L. Reifman, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development, which provides staff services to the Landmark Commission.

The building is currently owned by Columbia College Chicago. Johnson Publishing’s current office is at 200 S. Michigan Ave.