The new venture promises to create much-needed jobs in the Washington Park community; a South Side neighborhood that, for the moment, sits between an unkind past of economic abandonment--and a future uncertain, given that a large private Midwestern university is now expanding its footprint there.
Architecturally, the planned new use is a good thing for one of the city's finest neighborhood commercial buildings. Built in 1914, the five-story, terra cotta clad Art Deco terra cuts a beautiful figure on wide and leafy Garfield Blvd between State and Wabash. It's been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.
For 85 years, bread was made in this industrial cathedral designed by architect John Ahlschlager & Son, filling the neighborhood with an warm, unforgettable--and dearly missed--aroma until the place went out of business in 2004.
Ghian Foreman, head of the Washington Park Development Group, owns the building. He let me and my camera inside last week. All of the breadmaking stuff is gone, as you can imagine. What's left? Tons of glorious empty space...and possibilities.
|Huge columns line up like soldiers on each floor, holding up the massive building and the equipment that was once there. Still, enough care was taken to give the columns a bit of decoration.|
|The major machinery is gone, but countless details of the building's past remain.|
|This stencil is an example of the impromptu art that's popped on on the walls inside the building.|
|Bandit left his (or her) mark.|
|Light pours into the south-facing windows on the bakery's upper floor. The building has 700 windows.|
|Make it to the roof and you're rewarded with this fine view to the north. The downtown Chicago skyline, just seven miles away, is visible.|
The renovated building will be called the Midway Technology Centre.