Monday, August 24, 2015

7528-7532 N. Greenview, 1927

It's kind of a surprise to find that one of the crummiest buildings in Rogers Park used to be one of the most attractive.  But that's what I discovered while digging through the American Terra Cotta Collection digital archives at the University of Minnesota. I walked past that convenience store a dozen times and never imagined it was once so tasteful and carefully composed.

It only looked like the 1927 photo for perhaps 10 years.  By 1937 half of the Spanish baroque-style building, designed by Zimmerman, Saxe and Zimmerman, had been demolished to create a gas station, retaining only the five bays on the west seen in the lower photo.  And then the gas station was converted into a convenience store, with a breathtaking use of 1970s-style mansard roofs. 
Terra cotta bay with infill
The "L" was extended to Howard Street about 1908, feeding into a burgeoning commercial and entertainment district.  By the mid 20's the area was well-established.   Choosing to construct a 1-story commercial building in 1927 seems a bit out-of-character for the area, but it was located at the edge of the commercial district and perhaps it was felt that upper floors wouldn't be utilized.  As business dropped off in the 1930s retooling the building into a gas station must have seemed like a reasonable idea.  But it would have hurt to see the historic entrance torn off... And in the long run the site was still too small to function as a gas station. Now it's a weirdly-shaped neighborhood convenience store.

1 comment:

  1. I've often looked at that mess of a building and wondered what it might have been once. That was a beauty. Heartbreaking.