Johnson Publishing Sells Historic Headquarters

The historic building will become on Chicago's Michigan Avenue will become a Columbia College library.

The Johnson Building (Johnson Publishing Co.)
The Johnson Building (Johnson Publishing Co.)

College to Own First Black-Owned Building in Chicago’s Loop

Johnson Publishing Co. has sold its historic building on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue to Columbia College Chicago, the company announced on Tuesday.

It has not yet selected a new home and is to remain in the building for 18 months.

“The sale of 820 S. Michigan is part of the continuing evolution of the company that my father and mother started in the early 1942s,” Linda Johnson Rice, Johnson Publishing Co. chairman, said in a statement.

“Just as when JPC moved to this location in 1972, my father would be the first to say it makes good business sense to relocate to space that serves the current needs of the company.”

The purchase price was not disclosed, but spokesman Rodrigo A. Sierra, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said, “It does strengthen our balance sheet. We want to be focused on our businesses and not on upkeep of a building.”

JPC said that it uses only about 40 percent of the building.

The announcement said, “The 11-story, 110,000 square-foot historic building, which has been home to EBONY and JET magazines as well as Fashion Fair Cosmetics for almost 40 years, was completed in 1972 as the first major downtown Chicago building designed by an African-American since Jean Baptiste Point DuSable’s trading post, built two centuries earlier.”

The building is historic not only because it was designed by an African American, John W. Moutoussamy, but also because it was owned by one — the first skyscraper owned by an African American in the Loop.