Thursday, February 26, 2015

28-32 South State Street, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [28-32 South State Street (1925) Harold Holmes, architect; (1928) Leichenko & Esser, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

If you ever find yourself walking up the east side of State Street just north of Monroe you may notice that one, large, unified ground floor retail space looks likes it is in two different buildings, and you would be correct. When the Kresge Building - the shorter building to your right - was constructed in 1925 the McCrory Building -to your left - wasn't even there. It didn't appear until 1928. The current owners have combined the two structures with a uniform 21st century facade, but the Roaring Twenties stylings of architects Harold Holmes and Leichenko & Esser can still be found as you look up.

  [28-32 South State Street, Loop Retail National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Kresge was Sebastian Kresge who once owned the second largest chain of five and ten cent stores in the country right behind Woolworth's. Kresge - the man not the store - had already established a presence on Chicago's main retail thoroughfare when he purchased one of the street's major retail emporiums, The Fair Store in February 1925. In June of that same year he announced that the chain actually bearing the Kresge name would build one of their 5 & 10 cent stores just down the street from The Fair, and hired architect Harold Holmes for the job. Holmes turned out an understated limestone-faced facade with a few classical revival embellishments thrown in for good measure, that sat above a two-story granite base containing large display windows - a serviceable and cost effective design for his client.

 [32 South State Street /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1928 Sol H. Goldberg real estate investor and president of the Chicago-based Hump Hairpin Manufacturing Company, announced that he and his partners were going to improve the property at 32-34 S. State Street with a new building. Goldberg's 32 S. State Street Corporation had already lined-up a tenant for the entire 7-story structure McCrory Stores, named after John McCrory who opened his first five and dime store in 1882 in Pennsylvania. Fifteen years later when Sebastian Kresge opened his first 5 & 10 cent store in Memphis Tennessee, his partner was none other than John McCrory. After opening a store together in Detroit, the partners went their separate ways, but in 1929, on Chicago's State Street, Kresge and McCrory were standing side-by-side once again.

   [McCrory's, State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architects Leichenko & Esser jazzed things up a bit in 1928 for the Goldberg project with their interpretation of the popular modern style of the times. Their slimmed-down version of Art Deco with an Art Moderne flair must have made a good impression on Goldberg because in 1929 they also designed a flatiron shaped, multi-story building for the hairpin maker at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue at Diversey. Leichenko & Esser designed a number of buildings in and around the busy commercial intersection as did Harold Holmes, who designed a building at 2772 N. Milwaukee Avenue next to a Leichenko and Esser project at 2766 N. Milwaukee.
By the 1980s McCroy and Kresge were gone from State Street. Kresge had become the K in K-Mart, and in 1987 the retail conglomerate announced that they were selling their Kresge store brand to - you guessed it -  McCrory's.

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