WHEN PURE OIL CAME TO TOWN

When it was first built on the northeast corner of Meacham and Golf Roads, the modern building rested in solitary splendor on a great expanse of lawn surrounded by fields and more fields.  Home of the Pure Oil Company that was later named Unocal, the two story corporate office building came to Schaumburg Township in 1960.

Pure Oil

(Photo acknowledgement to the Daily Herald.)

Pure Oil incorporated as Columbus Production Company on April 19, 1914 in Columbus, Ohio. Two days later on April 21 the name was changed to Ohio Cities Gas Company. This name lasted for six years until it was changed once again on July 1, 1920 to Pure Oil Company.  By September of 1926, the company moved their headquarters from Columbus to what was known as the Jeweler’s building at 35 E. Wacker Drive in Chicago.  As the main tenant in this new skyscraper, the structure soon became known as the Pure Oil Building.Pure Oil building(Photo acknowledgement to architecturefarm.wordpress.com)

  • They remained in this location until October 31, 1960 when they moved to their own home in what was then known as Palatine.  The offices later were annexed as part of Schaumburg in the mid-1970’s with the address being 1650 and 1700 E. Golf Road at various times.

Their new building, according to an undated Daily Herald newspaper account, was mostly a one-story structure with a red brick and limestone exterior. At the main entrance, in the center, was a two-story section housing the executive offices on its second floor. The building contained 250,000 square feet of floor space and was designed by the architectural firm of Perkins & Will, according to the Village of Schaumburg’s Woodfield Regional Concept Plan.  The newspaper account says that the building was constructed by the George A. Fuller Company.

The 700-foot-long front of the building faced south toward Golf Road and was on a 240-acre parcel. The one-story office areas surrounded four landscaped courts of varying sizes. The 69-foot-wide interior sections of the building were free of columns and allowed for flexible office partitions and layouts. The building also contained an employees’ lounge, a cafeteria, an auditorium, a two-story map room and a specially designed area housing “an electronic computer and other data processing equipment.  It is also noted in the article that the building was air-conditioned–obviously an improvement for the time!

The circular parking lots occupied nine acres at the east and west end of the buildings and provided space for 1000 cars. Entrances were on both Golf and Meacham Roads.

Approximately 1500 employees worked in the building when it opened.  Many had lived in the city but subsequently moved out to the suburbs to be closer to work.  Robert L. Milligan, President of Pure Oil said, “We have found few inconveniences in being 26 miles from the Loop.  The Northwest Tollway and Northwest Expressway put us within little over half and hour from downtown.”  Shortly after the move, employees in the Arlington Heights office were also moved to the Palatine location.

On July 16, 1965, almost five years after they moved in, Pure Oil merged with Union Oil Company of California and the name was changed to Union Oil Co.  On April 25, 1983 the company officially became known as Unocal.  In 1992 it was announced that Unocal would be leaving the Schaumburg area and, by 1993, their National Auto/Truckstop system was phased out of the property.

The property was subsequently purchased by Roosevelt University and the buildings renovated to accomodate classrooms and offices. The campus was opened to the public in 1996.  It stands directly behind the far east end of the Woodfield Village Green shopping center.  It is bordered on the east by Roosevelt Boulevard and on the west by McConnor Parkway which Unocal built on its own in the 1980’s.  (The Parkway is named for W.S. McConnor, a Vice-President of Refining and Marketing for Union Oil in the 1970s.)

Below are some photos of what it looks like today.

Roosevelt UniversityRoosevelt UniversityRoosevelt University

Roosevelt UniversityRoosevelt UniversityJane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

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One Response to “WHEN PURE OIL CAME TO TOWN”

  1. mark Says:

    Thanks for this. I have not seen the building since it was Pure Oil. I lived in Hoffman from 1959 to 1974

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