Thursday, July 29, 2010

1940s Storefront Facades

We cap off our little survey of commercial Art Deco with a style that's not really Deco: the circa-World War II paneled storefront.

Lincoln Tap Room
Lincoln Tap Room - Lincoln Avenue

Western Automatic Music - Western Avenue

R.V. Kunka Pharmacy
R. V. Kunka Pharmacy - Archer Avenue



This one, on Armitage, actually has more in common with the corner Deco buildings from previous posts. But the colors are more 1940s-style.

Kiltz's Bakery - W. 63rd Street

Kiltz's shares a material and finish style with the next two, a sort of smooth-finished texture with a lumpiness to it. For a while it fooled me into thinking it was terra cotta, but if you walk up and tap it, you'll discover that it's a hollow metal panel with a baked-on coating, presumably a form of porcelain enamel.

Parkway Cleaners and Taylors - Diversey Parkway

Ed & Erv's Centrella Food Mart - Touhy Avenue

Parkway and Ed & Erv's also share enough design elements to make them look like the same designer's work. The white polished cleanliness of the designs is highly fitting for their occupants.

At the other end of the health spectrum, the Rothschild Liquors chain became their own mini-genre of storefront, all paneled in red and finished out with stylish neon signs:

717 East 87th Street

1532 West Chicago Avenue

425 East 63rd Street

A quick Google search turns up two more Rothschild stores with facades of the same vintage, one in red, one in white.

And finally, the black Vitrolite panel storefront, exemplified by two fine northern city storefronts:

Erickson's Jewelers, Clark Street in Andersonville

Paul J. Ouetschke & Co., Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Square



Unlike the baked metal panels above, Vitrolite is basically a form of glass, about a quarter inch in thickness, and sadly prone to breaking under impact.

And with those dimensional letters, we're clearly on the path to full-blown Midcentury. Bring it on!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gold-Plated Deco Bits

You remember these guys from last week, right?

Grand Avenue

Devon Avenue I

Devon Avenue II

The three buildings share more than just a similar design style; they actually have the exact same gold-hued catalog ornament.

Grand Avenue

Devon Avenue I

Deco detail
Devon Avenue II

And they're not alone. Several other Deco buildings were designed by contractors with their finger in the same catalog.

Lawrence Avenue, directly south of the previous two


Bryn Mawr at Sawyer, west of the river


It looks like the supplier made the same ornament in multiple finishes. Consider these two details, the first from the Lawrence Ave. building, the second from another Devon Ave. building:
Devon Deco

The two designs are identical, just flipped and rendered in a different finish.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Round Corner Deco

The Streamline Deco style really lent itself to commercial buildings. They could be built with extremely simple designs, and still be considered stylish and modern.

6747 W. Cermak Road, at Oak Park Avenue

Bryn Mawr, west of Sheridan


2755 W. 63rd Street at California

This one is the most basic model - rectangular blocks with a glazed, colored face, with horizontal banding lines on top and bottom. This model serves on countless storefronts around the city, both on corners and in the middle of the street wall.

Clark Street - Lakeview. Whatever this building may have once been, it's now buried under an awful asphalt shingle mansard roof, except for this forlorn little corner peaking out at the alley.

Here on Chicago Avenue, the worst slipcover job ever has partially given way to reveal the stock Streamline facade beneath.

The same idea was used to greater effect on Devon Avenue, where a corner didn't require the entry to be round.

Devon Avenue

The same model is used on a tiny free-standing building where Grand and Chicago intersect.

And again in a storefront at 6719 Northwest Highway.

On this North Avenue building, the same effect is achieved with metal panels. This building has had a renovation / add-on that really fights against its host building. Apparently, Streamline just doesn't have the same allure as rustic Swiss Alpine.


You could pull the same effect off in concrete or limestone, too:
Gandhi Electronics

Simple and Streamline weren't the only word in corner commercial chic, however. The varied vagaries of Art Deco offered an array of options for the shopkeeper willing to spend a bit more on his facade, and there are some beautiful examples here and there.

3001 W. 63rd Street

3324 W. 55th Street

Archer Avenue at Richmond Street

Monday, July 19, 2010

Angley Jangley Deco

Two handsome Art Deco specimens from out west.

The Medical Arts Building, Oak Park

715 Lake Street is hard to miss if you've visited Oak Park; it's a rare tall building in a low-rise suburb. Architect Roy J. Hotchkiss designed the Deco/Nouveau skyscraper near the end of a highly productive career, in 1929; still in use as office space, it's a contributing member of a National Register district.



It's also quite dramatically illuminated at night.


4500 W. Division

O & G Spring and Wire Forms Specialty Company occupies this low, long factory building, the front facade of a fairly large complex.


The factory's entire facade is nicely decorated with mosaic tile and brick patterns, but it's the entry tower that makes you swerve to the side of the road for a longer look.




Hey.... aren't those the same wall sconces as the Medical Arts Building?

O & G was founded in 1966 by a Polish immigrant and employs about 75 people today. The company made unfortunate headlines in 2008, when a supervisor shot and killed an employee after a quarrel.

The Tribune library archives are not working correctly, or I might have more info on the building itself. But maybe it's enough to just bask in its geometric glory.