Helene Curtis Building

Chicago, Illinois
1927- present

Sweet Home Chicago

Demolition of old Chicago buildings can be a treasure trove for reclaimed wood, and sometimes those heart pine timbers and Chicago brick are taken out of the Midwest.  We learned of these instances, through one of our timber jockeys, Bob.  He heard that a large amount of heart pine timber was being warehoused down south, after being removed from the Helene Curtis building, a notable cosmetic company manufacturing plant in Chicago. Bob recalled, “this was some of the best heart pine decking I’d ever seen.”  We had to bring this wood back to Chicago and allow its lifecycle to be extended by a Chicagoland company.  

As a history buff, naturally the early Chicago history of Helene Curtis, peaked our interest and we had to dive deeper. The business dated back to the late 1920’s when two entrepreneurs, Gerald Gidwitz and Louis Stein teamed up to sell the shampoo we know as “Suave” during the 1930’s. After World War II, they changed their name to Helene Curtis, which they arrived at by combining the names of Stein’s wife and son. By the 1960’s the company employed more than 1,000 people in Chicago selling its “Suave” and “Finesse” brands of shampoo, hairspray, and deodorant. 

It is a rewarding feeling to bring back material that lived in Chicago for a century and now a decade after it was removed, it is being shipped back to Illinois.  We will breath new life into this incredible material and send it on for another journey.


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