Rotary Grew and We Moved

Rotary Grew and We Moved
Rotary General Secretary Chesley Perry, in this article from page 38 of the December 1934 issue of The Rotarian, describes the series of moves of the Rotary offices. From sharing a steno with the Chicago club on La Salle Street, to the new (for the time) offices at 35 East Wacker Drive, Perry discusses the moves, the changes in staff size and amenities, and the necessity to keep providing enough space for the work of Rotary International. Subsequently, the Rotary offices were moved to Evanston, Illinois, where they remain today.

Doug Rudman

Rotary Grew and We Moved
By Chesley R. Perry
Secretary of Rotary International

IT WAS a hot day in Chicago in August 1910, the first Rotary convention was over and the first Board of Directors was having its first meeting.

Having completed my work as presiding officer of the convention I had returned to my office to attend to my own business.

They called me from my office and persuaded me to take the job of secretary of the organization for at least a few months. From Paul Harris' office, where we had been carrying on the promotion of the convention, I brought a card file and a correspondence file, and placed them on the top of my desk in my own office in a building then at 189 La Salle Street, near Monroe Street. The building has been replaced, and the number of the street has been changed. That was the first office of what is now Rotary International.

The second office was in the First National Bank Building, at Dearborn and Monroe Streets. By that time (January, 1911) the Chicago Rotary Club had decided to have a club office. Rotary International (then Rotary National) joined with the Rotary Club in sharing a small office in the bank building secured at a nominal price. We also shared the services of one stenographer to begin with.

We remained there until late in 1912, when we moved into our own office of three small rooms in what was then the Fort Dearborn Bank Building, at the corner of Clark and Monroe Streets. Its name subsequently was changed. Our staff now consisted of three or four people but the organization kept on growing, and in another year, larger quarters were required, and there were those who felt that our small back rooms were not in harmony with the dignity of such an organization as Rotary international, which we began to realize was to become a world-wide movement.

In 1914 we made our next move, which was to some very fine quarters in what was then the Karpen Building, at 910 S. Michigan Avenue. Later it became the Standard Oil Building. There we had lovely, light offices, and so much of it that our staff, which by that time had grown to about ten people, rattled around in the space. But the organization still kept on growing; its administrative activities increased, it began to function in several languages. Five times we had to increase our space there. Separate space had to be provided for THE ROTARIAN. During the nine years in the Karpen-Standard Oil Building, the staff grew to a total of seventy-eight people.

The purchase of the building by the Standard Oil Company and the post-war increasing rental costs drove us out in 1923, when, largely from a sense of economy, we moved to the Atwell Building, chiefly occupied by a printing concern, at the corner of Prairie Avenue and 20th Street, in an old residential section. (Twentieth Street later became Cullerton Street.) Rotary International occupied about two-thirds of the entire top floor.

It was good space for work by our staff, but there was some dissatisfaction on the part of Rotarians both in the United States and in other countries over the undignified quarters which we had there, and the distance we were from the central business section of Chicago. During this period we began to meet increased demands upon us by developing more systematic procedure and greater efficiency rather than by increasing the staff.

In 1928 we joined the trek to the new Wacker Drive, along the river taking two floors in the newly erectedEvening Post Building, at 211 West. The name of this building was subsequently changed to The Times Building. We began here with a staff of eighty-eight people (of whom thirteen were working on THE ROTARIAN). Here we were in an attractive location, with plenty of light; but we discovered that it was a neighborhood of considerable noise. While we have made every effort to keep down the number of persons on the staff, we have experienced the same necessary increase of staff to keep up with the growth and development of Rotary international, and, consequently, the need of additional space. We now have 105 people (of whom twenty-three are working on THE ROTARIAN).

This situation has now been met by our moving one-half mile eastward to the building at 35 East Wacker Drive, (on the extreme right) where we occupy all of the ninth floor and some space on the eighth and tenth floors.

Here we have made a very reasonable and economical arrangement as to rent and the management of the building have been very generous in fixing up our quarters in the style which they consider is befitting such an organization as Rotary International. Here we have comforts and conveniences that we have never before had, an attractive reception room, rooms for the various officers and department heads, and for conference purposes, an adequate board room, etc. Here we shall be in a better position to render service to the board, the committees, the district governors, the commissioners, and to club officers and committees.

Located as we now are, within a block of Michigan Avenue and only four blocks from State and Madison Streets, we hope that many more Rotarians will pay us a visit when they are in Chicago.

The new offices of the Secretariat and THE ROTARIANare on the ninth floor.

Nighttime 35 Wacker Drive from a 1938 Rotarian -

Wolfgang Ziegler

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