Montgomery Ward Penthouse!

Montgomery Ward Penthouse!
Montgomery Ward Penthouse!

As a traveling salesman in 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward realized that country dwellers were severely limited in access to goods and were dependent on the minimal stock their local country store could provide. He saw the need and with dogged determination set about to connect those in rural areas with the same buying opportunities available to city residents. It was an uphill road, but from Ward’s vision, the Montgomery Ward Catalog Company was born. This new fangled idea seemed to be too good to be true to country folk and at first they were skeptical. In order to put their minds at ease and create confidence, in 1875 Ward originated the concept, "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back," which is still the drumbeat of many of today’s most successful retailers.

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Aaron Montgomery Ward was a trailblazer. He did the work, turned the idea into a huge success and others followed to take a ride on his coattails. Sears Roebuck became his major competitor in the catalog business until Montgomery Ward branched out into retail stores and gained more competitors such as JC Penney, Macy's, Gimbels, and Dillard's. After Ward’s death, the retailer’s leadership passed to family CEOs with an unfortunate lack of forward thinking. While its competitors were opening retail outlets to fill the needs of the new suburb developments after WWII, Montgomery Ward bullheadedly confined itself to the inner city. It was the beginning of a painful death through catastrophic business decisions finally resulting in bankruptcy, termination of the employee pension plan and ultimately to its total liquidation in May 2001.

A standing memorial to the former retail king is the headquarters building that it occupied across from what is now Chicago’s Millennium Park. When first constructed in 1908, the pinnacle sported a ten-story section topped with a three-story pyramid and a temple. On the very top was a weather vane in the form of a woman. It acted as a beacon that would more easily guide the farmers to the building to buy tools and farm equipment.

The penthouse, the former public observatory, is now on the market. Considered to have some of the best views in Chicago, the 6,400 square foot condo has four bedrooms and five baths. There are two allocated parking spaces and building services include a door person, exercise room, party room, sauna and steam room. Though still in its original state, the rooftop access has the potential to be the most stunning garden terrace in Chicago. For more information.

Former Montgomery Ward headquarters observatory converted to penthouse condo previously priced at $4.75 million, now asking $4.25 million.

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