Does this signal the loss of a media giant?
As an apparent sign of economic times, the home of Ebony and Jet magazines has gone the way of many other institutions that were reminiscent of Black economic progress. During the last 40 years, a visit to the windy city (Chicago) meant a visit to the John H. Johnson’s home–the 11 story building that he built–at 820 South Michigan Avenue.
Now word has come that Columbia College will be/is the new owner and Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) will be doing a leaseback until alternate headquarters can be found to relocate the most prominent magazines in the history of Black America.
Not only did the building house the magazines, but it also was the home to Eunice Johnson’s Ebony Fashion Fair. According to JPC’s chief marketing officer, “We intend to stay in Chicago; the new location will be our fifth headquarters in Chicago since the company’s founding in 1942.” And a part of the reason for selling is that for some time, JPC only used half of the building’s space.
JPC was founded by patriarch (John H.) Johnson and was operated within the family structure by he and his wife. He ventured into other media, including WJPC radio, and it made him one of the richest men in America until his death in 2005. At that time, the publisher’s mantle went to his daughter, Linda Johnson Rice. His wife remained secretary/treasurer of the company and ran an international fashion fair until she passed in January 2010.