JPC headquarters sold to Columbia College

The home of Johnson Publishing Co, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines for nearly the last 40 years, has been sold to Columbia College for use as a library.

The company will remain in the 820 S. Michigan Ave. building under an 18-month lease agreement as they identify a new home, company officials said Tuesday in a news release.

“I am so proud that this wonderful building, which has served Johnson Publishing so well since 1971, will continue to have a rich legacy under the stewardship of Columbia College Chicago. When we learned of Columbia’s interest in preserving the building and using it to expand opportunities for young people to study visual, performing, media and communication arts, we knew this was an opportunity that we should pursue, ” said JPC chairman Linda Johnson Rice.

Only about 40 percent of the building -- which also housed Fashion Fair Cosmetics -- is utilized, and the move is part of the overall cost-reduction strategy. Since its founding in 1942, the company has had four headquarters in Chicago, according to the release.

The building was also the home of WJPC radio station in addition to Ebony Man magazine and the Ebony Fashion Fair traveling modeling group.

There were no details given about the purchase price of the building, which was designed by renowned Black architect John W. Moutoussamy. It is considered the first major downtown Chicago building designed by an African American since Jean Baptiste Point DuSable’s trading post, built two centuries earlier.

"Purchasing the Johnson building presented a rare opportunity for the most cost effective solution to the library situation. Situated across from Grant Park in the middle of our campus, this plan will have the Library centrally located to best serve the entire college. Because the 11-story, 110,000 square-foot building has more space than is presently needed for the Library alone, we will gain the added benefit of having additional building space for future college needs," Columbia College President Warrick L. Carter said in a Letter from the President on the school's website.

Columbia will also use space in the building to relocate other departments currently leasing space elsewhere, said Carter.

“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,” said Rice.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender