Madame CJ Walker was the first African American woman to open the field of cosmetology as a new and lucrative industry for black Americans. Her experimentation with hair preparations for African American women eventually led to the establishment of a thriving business that included not only the manufacturing of 75 beauty products, but also clubs, training programs, beauty schools, and shops throughout the United States. She became the first female to become a millionaire in the business world, and was known for her generous philanthropy to African American charities.
The Walker Building itself was constructed in 1927, but the building was planned out before Madame Walker passed away in 1919. Beyond serving as an entertainment center (a purpose the building still holds to this day) and an anchor for Indiana Avenue, the Walker Building also housed the Walker Beauty College which was responsible for training thousands of Walker agents, who in turn had successful and profitable careers. At one point or another, the building housed a pharmacy, restaurant, ballroom, and even a Walker product manufacturing area too. In 1980, the Walker Building (now known as the Walker Theater) was placed on the National Register and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1991.