Monday, March 2, 2015

Loren Miller & Co. - Goldblatt's Department Store Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Loren Miller & Co. - Goldbaltt's Department Store Building (1915) William L. Klewer, architect (2003) Adaptive Reuse, Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Before there was an Uptown on the north side of Chicago there was Sheridan Square. Centered around the intersection of Lawrence and Evanston Avenue - today's Broadway - the area remained pretty much building-free well into the early part of the 20th century even as people started building large suburban-style homes in nearby Edgewater, Margate Park, Buena Park, and Ravenswood. But by the time Loren Miller moved his dry goods business from Wilson Avenue a few blocks north to Broadway and Lawrence in 1915, Sheridan Square was beginning its transformation to becoming the heart of the Uptown business and entertainment district.

  [Loren Miller & Co. - Goldblatt's Department Store Building, 4720-26 N. Broadway Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Miller knew the dry goods market well, he'd worked in several of the large downtown department stores before opening-up his Wilson Avenue establishment in 1896. As more and more people moved out of the more congested and built-up parts of the city to the south, little pockets of upscale residential communities began cropping-up north of today's Irving Park Road and Miller catered to this clientele. By 1914 Loren Miller & Co. had outgrown its original location and Miller was on the lookout for a place to move - just not too far away.

  [Loren Miller & Co. - Goldblatt's Department Store, Uptown Square National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It just so happened that a Mr. Albert Cook owned a vacant piece property that he wanted to improve with an income generating building. The vacant lot was between two existing buildings perched on a triangular parcel of land created by the intersecting streets of Broadway, Racine and Leland Avenues, not far from Miller's Wilson Avenue store. The Plymouth Hotel stood at the bottom portion of the triangle facing Leland, the Sheridan Trust & Savings Bank was squeezed into the pointy end where Racine met Broadway, and Cook's new building would fill-in the rest. Miller signed a 20-year lease at $21,000 per year for a brand new 5-story, $150,000, bright white terra-cotta coated, William Klewer designed loft building - which would make for a perfect department store location. By the time the doors were ready to open in November 1915, Miller had renegotiated his lease and extended the term by another 5 years.

  [Loren Miller & Co. - Goldblatt's Department Store Building, Uptown Square, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It wasn't long after the move that Miller & Co.'s full page ads in the Chicago Tribune began to carry the banner "The Uptown Store" to distinguish it from the major downtown retail emporiums. Miller worked hard promoting not only his own enterprise but also the entire neighborhood, and soon other business owners began adding "Uptown" to their addresses. In 1927 Miller got the Chicago City Council to officially declare the intersection of Lawrence and Broadway "Uptown Square," and the Miller & Co. display ads now carried a prominent banner proudly announcing "The Uptown Square Department Store." Times were good for Loren Miller & Co. In 1926 the store expanded and moved into the space previously occupied by the bank, and Miller had also taken over the Plymouth Hotel - now the Uptown Hotel - for future expansion. Then on August 2, 1931 a full page ad in the Tribune declared that Goldblatt Bros. would be holding a liquidation sale at Loren Miller & Co. as they transitioned to Goldblatt's merchandise in their newly acquired Uptown location. Miller was out and Goldblatt's was in. A favorite of neighborhood shoppers, the retailer was able to survive economic turmoils and remain in their Broadway location for the next 67 years. After finally throwing-in-the-towel and closing-up shop in 1998, the building sat empty until 2002 when the the Goldbaltt's sign was finally removed and the trio buildings underwent demolition, restoration, rehabilitation and adaptive reuse, converting the former department store complex into a three-sided, retail and residential grouping.

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