Albert Pick & Company was incorporated in 1857, by
Albert Pick I and his brother Charles. Charles was
known as Carl Pick, and was the grandfather of Albert
Pick, Jr. The business was a prosperous hotel and
restaurant supply company, and was located on
5th Avenue (later, Randolph and Wells), in Chicago,
Albert, Jr. was fascinated with the business world
from an early age. He began sweeping and doing odd
jobs at Albert Pick & Company at age 12. Never
particularly enamored with his given name, he
changed it from "Isidore Pick" to "Albert Pick, Jr."
just before he entered high school. By age 15, he'd
familiarized himself with the intricacies of the
business, and was selling part-time for the firm.
Following his World War I service in the army, he
rejoined Albert Pick & Company, spending time
in the adjustment department, personnel department,
and occasionally working as a salesman for the firm.
His passion for the family business was such that he
often worked twelve-hour days, six days a week.
In the late 1920s, Albert Pick, Sr. began acquiring
vast stretches of real estate through his new Randolph
Investment Company. They invested in property in Chicago,
Bal Harbor, Florida, and land surrounding Miami Beach.
They owned several square blocks along the Chicago River
between Monroe and Madison Streets, small farms, hotels,
and the Reliance Building in Chicago. Albert, Jr. was
quickly becoming the money-man in their new real estate/hotel
His father struggled through the Great Depression
following an involuntary bankruptcy filed against
him in 1933. Increasingly, it fell to Albert, Jr.
to purchase and manage the various hotels they were
adding to their real estate holdings.
In the early 1930s, Randolph Investment Company was
renamed Pick Hotels Corporation, and Albert, Jr. was
named its president. He guided the company through
several decades of conservative but steady expansion.
Pick Hotels further expanded their horizons in 1955,
by adding motels to their growing family of quality
lodging. Pick Hotels owned 15 hotels by 1942, and
later reached a peak of 41 hotels and motels in 36
Albert Pick, Jr. married Corinne Frada, December 27th,
1917, at the Standard Club, in Chicago, Illinois.
They had a daughter, Gladys Pick, born in 1927, and
a son, Albert Pick III, born in 1934. His daughter
Gladys married William Ross in the Gold Room of their
flagship hotel, the Pick-Congress, September 29th, 1950.
The marriage ended in divorce and she remarried in
1955 to Richard Guggenheim. Albert and Corinne had
several grandkids and were both doting grandparents.
He had served as treasurer, director, president, and
ultimately, chairman of the board of Pick Hotels Corporation.
Mr. Pick even did a little writing for Topicks, a
magazine published for employees of Pick Hotels. Beginning
in 1942, Albert regularly contributed a folksy editorial
to the magazine, and continued to do so into the 1970s.
Toward the end of his career, when asked how many shareholders
there were in the corporation, Albert responded by raising
a single finger. Over time, he'd personally bought out
all remaining shareholder/partners, and thus reigned as
the sole owner of the company.
Beginning in the late 1940s, his time was increasingly
spent with philanthropic endeavors. La Rabida Children's
Hospital (a.k.a. La Rabida Jackson Park Sanitarium)
was a personal favorite of his. He gave generously
of his time and money to the children's hospital, and
was responsible for promoting an alliance between
La Rabida Children's Hospital and the University of
Chicago. May 25th, 1959, Albert Pick, Jr. was elected
to the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago.
He would remain closely associated with the University
for the rest of his life.
People to People International was another organization
he supported over the years. In 1967, President Dwight D.
Eisenhower asked Pick to serve as director of People
to People International. President Eisenhower founded the
organization to promote "international understanding and
friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian
activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences
directly among peoples of different countries and diverse
cultures. People to People International is dedicated to
enhancing cross-cultural communication within each community,
and across communities and nations." In 1972, Albert was
honored with the Eisenhower Medallion for his years of
service to People to People International.
His philanthropy led to the organization of The Albert
Pick, Jr. Fund, "... to offer a hand when help is needed."
The fund continues to assist civic and community-based
organizations working to improve the City of Chicago
and its individual neighborhoods. Programs that enhance
the environment, address the needs of minorities and
the physically disabled and/or promote good government
and human relations, have all benefited from his fund.
His organization also supports the efforts of Chicago's
cultural organizations, childhood education, tutoring,
at-risk intervention and job training and retraining.
Pursuant to his own personal interest in improving
childhood healthcare, the fund assists Chicago-based
programs offering health, disabled or rehabilitation
counseling; and/or crisis and shelter care services
to youth, at-risk families and geriatric populations.
Albert and Corinne celebrated their 50th wedding
anniversary in the Gold Room of the Pick-Congress,
December 27th, 1967. To celebrate their golden wedding
anniversary, Albert announced that his anniversary
gift to his wife would be a concert hall for her
alma mater. She was a celebrated pianist in her
youth, and as avid arts supporters, it seemed the
perfect way to honor his wife and her love of music.
Nearly ten years had passed since they established
the Corinne Frada Pick Music Scholarship for piano
students at Northwestern University, when he learned
of the school's need for a concert hall. So, it was
only natural that he would join forces with his
brother-in-law, Charles Staiger, in offering financial
backing for the new concert hall.
July 25th, 1973, Albert and his wife helped break
ground for the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, in Evanston,
Illinois. Made possible by generous gifts from Albert
Pick, Jr. and Charles Staiger, the Pick-Staiger Concert
Hall held its dedicatory concert October 26th, 1975.
The concert featured a young pianist, Ralph Votapek,
and the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra.
The choice of Ralph Votapek as soloist held special
significance for the Pick's. He was not only a prominent
School of Music alumnus and winner of the Van Cliburn
Competition, but had also been the very first recipient
of the Corinne Frada Pick Music Scholarship at
In recognition of his family's prominent place in
Chicago's early history, a number of streets in suburban
Chicago would later be named for various members of
the Pick family. Albert's generous gifts, and years
working to strengthen educational institutions, led
to the establishment of numerous scholarships bearing
his or his wife's name. You'll also find the Gertrude
Frank Pick Children's Center at La Rabida Children's
Hospital and Research Center, in Chicago; the Albert
Pick Hall for International Studies, at the University
of Chicago; and the Albert Pick Hall for International
Studies, at the University of Miami.
In 1960, Pick reorganized the company, spinning off
the motels into their own division. Pick Hotels went
international in 1964, when they added the Lord Simcoe
Hotel in Toronto, and the Windsor Hotel in Montreal,
Canada. Another of his companies, Pick Dining Inc.,
managed various restaurants and cafeteria properties.
As he approached his 70th birthday, he let more and
more power in the company pass to others. Summers were
spent at his Highland Park home, with winters spent
in Florida. He suffered a minor stroke in 1971, and
another in 1972 while attending an International Hotel
Association meeting in Geneva. In his final years, Albert's
health continued to deteriorate and his eyesight failed.
Shortly before his death, he underwent cataract surgery
that successfully restored vision to one of his eyes.
December 10th, 1977, he suffered a heart attack and died
the next day.
Corinne Frada Pick continued her faithful support of
Northwestern's School of Music until her death in
Other positions and honors:
A director with the First National Bank of Highland Park beginning in 1956.
Director of the American Hotel and Motel Association.
President and chairman of the board of La Rabida Children's
Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.
Life trustee, University of Chicago.
Member of the Board of Governors of International House.
Founder and president of the Emeritus Club of the
Alumni Association at the University of Chicago.
Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Miami, January 25th, 1973.
Recipient of the U.S. Information Agency's Distinguished
Service Award for outstanding services in advancing understanding
and goodwill between peoples of the United States and other countries.
1972 recipient of the Eisenhower Medallion.
Note: The Eisenhower Medallion is the highest award
presented by People to People International. It is
presented to an internationally known individual or
organization in recognition of their exceptional
contribution to world peace and understanding.
A partial list of the hotels and apartment buildings they owned
Congress Hotel (later, the Pick-Congress), Chicago,
Illinois (acquired in 1950)
The Georgian, Evanston, Illinois (acquired in 1946)
Hotel Antlers, Indianapolis, Indiana
The Anderson, Anderson, Indiana (acquired in 1948)
Tower Apartments, Anderson, Indiana
Pick-Durant, Flint, Michigan
Pick-Nicollet, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mark Twain Hotel (later, the Pick-Mark Twain), St. Louis, Missouri
The Melbourne, St. Louis, Missouri (acquired in 1948)
Eldorado Towers, 90th Street and Central Park West,
New York City, New York
Pick-Carter, Cleveland, Ohio
Nationwide Inn, Columbus, Ohio
Pick-Fort Hayes Hotel, Columbus, Ohio
Roosevelt Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (acquired in 1947)
Albert Pick Motel, Nashville, Tennessee
The Raleigh Hotel, Waco, Texas
Pleasant Point Resort, Pleasant Point, West Virginia
Caravan Inn, Sacramento, California (acquired in 1965)
Lord Simcoe Hotel, Toronto, Canada (acquired in 1964)
Windsor Hotel, Montreal, Canada (acquired in 1964)
Over the years, Albert Pick & Company/Pick Hotels Corp. had
offices located at Randolph and Wells, 532 South Michigan Avenue, and
20 North Wacker Drive, in Chicago, Illinois.
Yachting (often with close friends Senator Robert Taft
and also President Eisenhower), golf (he never had a lesson, yet
won several golf tournaments), world travel, was a dedicated
pro football fan, and in his early years, he excelled at track.
Residences of Albert Pick, Jr:
Note that these residences may no longer exist, and it's
possible the addresses have changed over the years.
This is not to suggest that Mr. Pick owned each and
every one of these structures. We're only reporting the
fact that he resided in them at one point or another in
4417 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
5300 Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
35th and Wabash, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
72nd and Columbus Avenue, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (during World War I)
Cherry Street, Winnetka, Illinois, U.S.A.
106 Vine Avenue, Highland Park, Illinois, U.S.A.