This photo is of Anixter’s 13 founding women from back in 1919

Our History


It all began in 1919 when thirteen women founded an orphanage as a promise to their friend who had lost all but one of her children to the influenza epidemic. The Douglas Park Jewish Nursery was incorporated on June 6, 1919. It opened its doors on September 7, 1919 with beds for 40 children. The name changed in November to Douglas Park Jewish Day and Night Nursery.

Names of the Agency from 1919 to the Present

  • 1919 Douglas Park Jewish Day Nursery (September)
  • 1919 Douglas Park Jewish Day and Night Nursery (November)
  • 1956 Douglas Park Nursery and Training Center for Retarded Children
  • 1957 Chicago School for Retarded Children
  • 1979 Chicago Services for Work and Rehabilitation
  • 1983 THE CENTER for the Rehabilitation and Training of the Disabled
  • 1993 Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center (a.k.a. – Anixter Center)
    Lester and Rosalie Anixter were introduced to “The Center for the Rehabilitation and Training of the Disabled” by their accountant and good friend, Jack Ehrlich. Jack’s mother, Florence was one of the 13 women who founded the orphanage in 1919 that is now Anixter Center. “The Center” was renamed the Lester and Rosalie Anixter Center in 1993.

Our History

01 Aug, 2008


Anixter Center becomes the manager of the Kolmar House CILA (Community Integrated Living Arrangement) in Skokie. Kolmar House was created for a young man who has autism and challenging behaviors. It was designed to provide the young man with the optimal tools and supports needed to ensure successful integration and inclusion in his community.

01 Aug, 2010


Anixter Center launched the new brand and tagline “The Ability to Soar” at Kids and Kites Day at Montrose Beach in Chicago.

01 Aug, 2012


Anixter Center hosts its first spring fundraising benefit.

01 Aug, 2014


Anixter Center expanded its programs to include 35 different programs in residential, educational, employment, socialization, rehabilitation and health services.

01 Aug, 2016


The Chicago Hearing Society observes its 100th Anniversary.

01 Aug, 2018


The Community Resource and Support Legacy program was moved to the 6050 N. California building.

Closure of the Anixter Center packaging Services.

The Anixter Center Reopened the Avondale location for CILA.

Closure of Brown CILA.

Sale of Zion and Bosworth buildings.

Repurposing of the Roscoe CILA as the Williams Mental Health Residential site for 8 adults transitioning from nursing home care, based on the Williams consent decree.

Closure of the Atrium Substance Use Disorder site.

Opened 2 new Substance Use Disorder sites.

Rebecca Clark joined Anixter Center as President and Chief Executive Officer.

01 Aug, 2019


Closure of the Stuart G. Ferst School

Beginning of Mesirow private partnership model: Mesirow Inclusive Opportunities.

Anixter Center celebrates 100 years!

09 Aug, 2022


Janitorial Service opened for business to provide full-service maintenance to major Chicagoland businesses. Anixter Center’s first HUD building, the Skolnick Building, opened at 1401 W. Chase in Chicago.