December 22, 1954 – The president of the American Furniture Mart, Lawrence H. Whiting, confirms rumors that the Mart has obtained control of 333 North Michigan Avenue, an Art Deco tower on the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. Whiting says, “The American Furniture Mart accumulated this interest as a long term real estate investment in what we consider to be an exceptionally sound real estate enterprise.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 23, 1954] Arthur M. Wirtz, the chairman of the American Furniture Mart, is also the president of the 333 Building Corporation. 333 North Michigan Avenue was completed in 1927 following a design by the firm of Holabird and Root. The design of its 25 stories is particularly striking because of the building’s location just south of the DuSable Bridge, directly across the river from Tribune Tower.
December 22, 1933 – Interested parties head to federal court, contesting a proposal by members of the Medinah-Michigan Avenue Club to lease the facility, which has been in receivership for 18 months, paying a monthly rental fee of $11,000 in order to run the building as a private club. The proposal seeks court approval to increase the current membership of the club from 500 to 1,100 within 90 days with each member paying a $10 monthly fee. Any money above the $11,000 rental fee would be divided – 80% going to the club’s creditors and the remainder going to the members. Apparently, the plan has the approval of the Continental-Illinois National Bank, holder of $4,200,000 in first mortgage bonds. “Strenuous opposition” [Chicago Daily Tribune, December 23, 1933] is voiced by representatives of the Seneca Securities Corporation, holders of $800,000 in second mortgage bonds. Seneca’s attorney points out, “The court would be turning this property back to the same crowd which originally wrecked it. When the receiver took charge he found $201,000 overdue on house accounts and overdue installments of dues alone. Even in those generally prosperous days, with a membership of 3,500, the club had never shown a profit … The original club spent $750,000 to get its 3,500 members. How the present club expects to get 600 new members on the present setup is more than I can understand.” Judge Charles E Woodward sets a date of January 8, 1934 for the next hearing.
December 22, 1917 – Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini dies of heart disease at Columbus Hospital. Mother Cabrini, the founder of the order of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, was the founder of the hospital in which she took her last breath. She was born on July 15, 1850 in the small Italian town of S’ant Angelo Lodigiano, the youngest of 13 children. In her late 30’s, at the direction of Pope Leo VIII, she arrived in New York City, a place crying out for schools and orphanages to serve the huge population of Italian immigrants. Her tireless work was so effective that she received requests for help from far-flung places across the globe, and she made 23 trans-Atlantic crossings, establishing 67 different schools, hospitals and orphanages. In 1946 Mother Cabrini was canonized by Pope Pius XII. When Columbus Hospital was demolished to make way for 2550 Lakeview, the chapel of the hospital was painstakingly preserved and today the place where Mother Cabrini worshipped, the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, is open daily and has weekend Masses with opportunities for confession and hosts Eucharistic adoration on Fridays. The sanctuary of the Shrine is pictured above.