1875

Morris Kurtzon was born in Lithuania and came to the U.S. by himself at age 11.

1898

Morris and his brother George Kurtzon begin Garden City Plating & Manufacturing (GARCY) in 1898.

1908

Just after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1908, Morris Kurtzon (although  he was in charge of the manufacturing of the business) traveled by train to that devastated city by the Bay and sold huge orders of builder’s hardware needed to rebuild the city; door pulls, bars, hinges, brackets, etc. The amount of work gained pushed GARCY into national distribution.

1910

The factory building at 1420 South Talman Ave. has significant architectural importance. The southern half of this current building was completed in 1910, and the northern half was done after WWI. Original blueprints in the company archives name “Schmidt, Garden & Martin” as the architecture firm — an important member of the Chicago Architecture Club. The building is also considered an example of the Chicago School of Architecture, which was a local movement  to develop a truly American style of architecture.

1914-1918

The beginning of American participation in WWI saw GARCY being asked to produce 20 mm shell casings for the government, which required the company to redesign much of its equipment to keep up with the war effort. Morris had to work hard developing the right tooling. During this period, Mount Sinai continued to expand, with its certification as a teaching hospital in the training of new doctors.

Morris continued to be deeply involved in its progress, and took great pride as new wings opened up, such as those for the training of nurses to deal with contagion.  The Great Influenza epidemic of the 20’s showed the importance of such training.

1919

Morris Kurtzon sought to provide the West Side community in Chicago a suitable hospital where Jewish doctors could practice without prejudicial practices excluding them. Buying the bankrupt Maimonides Hospital with his own money, he re-organized it under the name Mt. Sinai Hospital Association. He refused an attractive offer to sell the property to the University of Illinois, preferring to donate it to the entire community as beneficiary. The community responded to this gesture with a great effort to build up financial support for the new hospital. Although women had not traditionally been allowed to fully participate in many communities, the early history of Mt. Sinai included a strong presence of women among its supporters. Morris devoted a good deal of his time to planning and designing the new facility. The final hospital plans were done by Schmidt, Garden and Ericksen. GARCY began a program of designing custom equipment for the new hospital, much of it made of stainless steel.

1941-1945

At the beginning of WWII, government agents made plans to visit the GARCY factory in Chicago, as they knew that it had produced war materials during WWI and required the equipment to be rugged enough for conditions ranging from Arctic to tropical.

 

GARCY was given orders to produce Airfield Wind Indicators, made of structural iron tubular support for canvas body, each about 20‘ long, and of a tetrahedronal shape.

 

Along with the Wind Indicators, the company was also subcontracted to produce parts for the P-47 “Thunderbolt”.  The P-47 utilized key parts produced by GARCY, allowing for its speed and maneuverability despite its size.

1947

GARCY dissolved, and a new corporation began under the name “Morris Kurtzon, Inc.”

Morris’ son-in-law and Army veteran Captain David Koch, joins the company. At this point there are many new advancements in fluorescent lamp technology introduced into wide distribution during WWII, this becomes the new company focus.

1950

The Chicago Transit Authority approached Kurtzon to design and fabricate a corner mounted “cornice” fluorescent fixture for lighting public stairwells in its Loop stations. CTA’s decision was driven by Kurtzon’s expertise in stainless steel fabrication.

1956

Kurtzon bids for and is approved to fabricate a Frank Lloyd Wright lighting fixture design for the H.C. Price building in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

1956

Kurtzon develops the first fluorescent recessed mounted “Round Dome” fixture available in 2’, 4’, 6’ diameters.

1960s

Special fixtures were created to address the specific needs of hospitals, featuring equipment to filter out radio frequency interference in operating spaces.

1961

David Koch becomes next president of company.

1968

The first sealed & gasketed fixtures for recessed applications are introduced to the industry.

1972

The High Intensity Discharge lamp is used into its own series of lighting products, featured in many different applications from pools to auto dealerships

1976

Kurtzon introduces recessed Hazardous Location lighting and calls it the Haz-Lock. In 1976, the company received notice from UL that its submittal for Class 1, Division 2 Hazardous Location® lighting in a recessed mounting was approved, thus creating a first for both MKI and the lighting industry. The type of demanding environment represented by Class I, Division 2 listing placed the company among the leaders in the industry.

By 1994, the Haz-Lock line of fixtures produced by Kurtzon Lighting were being used by NASA and other end-users requiring fixtures for “high tech” environments.

1978

Kurtzon releases the very first series of lighting fixtures with a dual listing from both UL and National Sanitation Foundation suitable for use in commercial kitchen hoods. The products were designed and constructed using  a specially designed gasketing system coupled with stainless steel housings and frames.

1980

After custom fixture design work with Abbott Laboratories and Yale Medical School, Kurtzon first presents to the industry a complete line of surface & recessed stainless steel fixtures suitable for clean space installations.

1985

Kurtzon wins bid to produce lighting for O’Hare International airport.

1990s

Kurtzon produces lighting for major international pharmaceutical companies like Abbott Labs, ALCON, Battelle, Ceiba Giegy, Merck, Novartis, Wyeth and many more.

2002

Kurtzon introduces the first LED Darkroom Safelight.

2010

The complete range of company products for technical medical spaces selected for Chicago’s Rush University Hospital, ushering in a new chapter of high end medical product applications.