CHICAGO (CBS) — The Wieboldt’s department store chain is familiar to longtime Chicagoans, but from no time recently – the stores all shut down more than three decades ago.
But the Wieboldt family fortune is still helping the community, all these years later.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams on Wednesday introduced us to the new man in charge of doling out the cash to help others.
Back when big department stores lined State Street, Wieboldt’s was found right at 1 N. State St. at Madison Street.
But it was really a neighborhood retailer, selling its wares in several city and suburban communities.
In the city, there were locations in at 63rd and Green streets in Englewood; at Adams Street and Ashland Avenue on the Near West Side; at Lincoln, Ashland, and Belmont avenues in Lakeview; at Milwaukee Avenue and Paulina Street in Wicker Park; in the Lincoln Village shopping center in North Park; and at the Ford City Mall in West Lawn.
There were also Wieboldt’s stores in Evanston and Oak Park, as well as several malls farther out in the suburbs.
“Fairly priced, not really high-end merchandise, but trying to accommodate of the needs of the people in the neighborhoods,” said John Darrow.
Darrow is the great-grandson of William Wieboldt (1857-1954), who founded the store 137 years ago.
Working class shoppers found everything at Wieboldt’s – clothes, furniture, and later televisions and radios.
“Definitely with a touch of class,” Darrow said.
William Wieboldt made a lot of money and wanted to give back, so he created the Wieboldt Foundation in 1921.
“Focusing on the neighborhoods, because the stores that created his wealth were in Chicago’s neighborhoods,” Darrow said.
Now, nearly 100 years after William Wieboldt started his charity, it will soon have a new executive director. Jawanza Malone took the job after years with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization.
“I’ve been impressed by the ability to be earnest, support the work of community organizing in a way that many foundations locally and nationally just don’t,” Malone said.
The foundation is tackling a number of issues, from education, to affordable housing, to restorative justice.
“I’ll make sure that we’re able to influence the broad field of philanthropy, as well as to improve the condition of our country,” Malone said.
The last of the Wieboldt stores went out of business in 1987. But name lives on in good deeds.
“Not just give away money, but looking for ways to invest that also improve life in the neighborhoods in the city,” Malone said.
Eight of 10 members of the foundation’s board are Wieboldt family members. And they are still using the endowment the founder set up nearly a century ago to serve the city’s neighborhoods.
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Source: CBS Chicago