Wieboldt Hall

Northwestern University’s School of Commerce had been founded in 1908 to provide a university-level education for students interested in a career in business. It focused on attracting working students, offering most of its courses at night. The School had been housed in the Northwestern Building (the former Tremont House Hotel) at the corner of Lake and Dearborn streets, sharing space with the Dental, Law, and Pharmacy Schools. It had undergone a rapid expansion after World War I and it soon became clear that a new building was needed. As part of the fundraising campaign for Northwestern’s new Chicago campus, the Wieboldt Foundation (the family foundation of Chicago merchandiser William A. Wieboldt and his wife) gave $500,000 toward the construction of a new building for School of Commerce. William A. Wieboldt agreed to contribute to the Commerce building because he believed that “the most effective form of charity is developing self-supporting men and women.”

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Chicago campus were held on May 8, 1925 and cornerstones for the first buildings, including Wieboldt Hall, were laid on June 11, 1926. Raymond A. Wieboldt, son of William A. Wieboldt, was the general contractor for the buildings. Wieboldt Hall was opened for classes in October of 1926. The dedication for the entire campus was held on June 17, 1927, with separate dedicatory services for each building. Held in conjunction with a two-day conference on business education, the Wieboldt Hall dedication included presentations by educators from around the country, an “inspection trip” of the building, and an evening open house for students, alumni, and faculty. The James B. Forgan Room of Finance, the Clement Studebaker Room of Manufacturing, and the John G. Shedd Room of Merchandising—each with a portrait of the donor—were dedicated by University President Walter Dill Scott.

Constructed of Indiana limestone with a slate roof, Wieboldt Hall was eight stories tall, with a center tower rising an additional six stories. According to the original plan, the first two floors of the building housed the heating plant for the entire Chicago campus. In 1962 these floors were converted to classroom and office space. The remaining floors held classrooms, laboratories, lecture halls, faculty offices, and clubrooms for the Lydians, a club for women students, and the Commerce Club, a men’s group. The Joseph Schaffner Library of the School of Commerce, named for a founder of Hart, Schaffner and Marx, occupied part of the second floor, and administrative offices of the school were located on the sixth floor. The School of Journalism, which was part of the School of Commerce until 1939, had its offices in the building, as did Richard T. Ely’s Institute of Land Economics and Public Utilities.

Wieboldt Hall was occupied primarily by the School of Commerce until the 1950s. University College, the University’s continuing education program, moved its offices to the sixth floor of Wieboldt Hall in 1951 and when the Evening Divisions program was created, its offices and classrooms were also relocated to Wieboldt Hall. In 1978, Evening Divisions was renamed the Division of Continuing Education, and in 2000 it became the School of Continuing Studies. It continues to occupy the sixth floor of Wieboldt Hall.

The School of Commerce was renamed the School of Business in 1956 and its part-time evening program was based in Wieboldt Hall, with full-time day students attending on the Evanston campus. In the 1960s a two-story wing was added to the building to accommodate the growing student population. In 1971 the School discontinued its undergraduate program and was renamed the Graduate School of Management. After a $10 million donation from the John L. and Helen Kellogg Foundation in 1979, the school was renamed the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (now Kellogg School of Management). Kellogg’s part-time programs are still located in Wieboldt Hall.

Wieboldt Hall, Exterior: Entrance
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Quick Facts

Date: 1926

Architect: James Gamble Rogers

Named for: Chicago merchandiser William A. Wieboldt

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