Our History

Our story began in 1915 on a busy turn-of-the-last-century commercial thoroughfare in the vibrant Back of the Yards Neighborhood of Chicago when Henry Bernard Peters, (our founder, Warren J. Peters’ father) and his siblings Victor and Charles Peters established a small, multi-faceted real estate investment and financial services business.

Then known as Petrzilek Brothers, the business represented the quintessential immigrant-made-good story. Petrzilek Brothers was involved in the ownership & operation of rental apartment buildings, mortgages, insurance and thrived for over 30 years until Henry died in 1943 right before the post-war economic boom.

With a lack of a male heir to succeed him, and with Warren still in school, instead of folding or selling the business, Warren’s mother Sylvia stepped in and assumed the mantle of leadership and then very successfully ran the business for another 4 years until she was joined by Warren in 1947.

In a very unique-for-it’s-time, woman-owned and highly entrepreneurial business environment, Warren worked side by side with his mom for 12 years where he was literally steeped in his parents’ business acumen and ideology. Remember, Women’s Suffrage didn’t even exist until 1920!

Warren’s entrepreneurial spirit was fostered and forged during his time with the company and it was during these formative years that he planted the seeds of long-term growth for the company that now bears his name.

Jennings Realty, Inc. (JRI) was established in 1960 and is now a 4th generation, (5th if you count the original Petrzilek Brothers company) family-owned & operated, full-service real estate brokerage and investment company based in downtown Evanston, IL. Since JRI’s founding, over half a century ago, we have been involved in over 20,000 residential and commercial real estate transactions with a market value in-excess of $450 million dollars.

A strong believer in family enterprise and the virtue of surrounding himself with extremely capable people, Warren’s nephew Howard Berland joined the firm in 1968 as corporate secretary and general counsel and were instrumental in helping Warren execute the company’s early growth and diversification plan.

Warren’s daughters Barbara and Jennifer came into the business in 1988. Barbara is now overseeing the launch of Jennings on the Park, A Real Estate Boutique, which is Jennings’ luxury North Shore-focused full service real estate brokerage based in downtown Glencoe. Her sister Jennifer joins her in the new business venture and brings her unique skill set and community leadership abilities.

Barbara’s son Jay Lapat is now guiding the firm into new markets as he very deftly implements his own bold vision for the company while maintaining the core values established over 100 years ago.

Jay’s brother Louis Lapat is highly active on the technological side of the business in support of his brother’s vision and, as a gifted computer scientist and marketer Louis keeps the company both current and relevant.

In addition to the key family members, JRI has an extremely talented team of senior management and department heads; each a leader in their respective fields, providing crucial operational oversight and professional execution of the company’s strategic initiatives.

Visit Our Team page to get to know us a little better.

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