The Krause Music Store Restoration Review – Louis Sullivan’s Last Commission

What a facade!


Sometimes it is easy to overlook a jewel.  At least it was for me.  I have driven through Lincoln Square, and passed by The Krause Music Store, Louis Sullivan’s last commission, twice a week over several years and never saw it.  It wasn’t until I was with a friend one day who specifically pointed it out to me that I saw it and wondered how I could possibly have missed it. It is amazing and unlike anything around it.  Had I passed this in 1922, it would not have been harder to miss it, because it was a stand-alone building and the first on the block.

The building, now owned and occupied by Studio V Design is open to the public two times during the year and, fortunately, shortly after my discovery, the Chicago Architectural Foundation was sponsoring a tour there.  On the tour, I learned that Krause hired William Presto to design a music store with an apartment above and Presto hired Louis Sullivan to design the façade, which was completed in 1922.  This was Louis Sullivan’s last commission.  Speculation exists as to whether his choice of Terra Cotta for the façade was influenced by his involvement with the American Terra Cotta Company. The embellished façade is composed of detailed ornamentation.

Awards(LK)


The large central window was intended as a display area for pianos and is set back from the sidewalk, providing shelter for pedestrians and attracting attention to the window.  Two doors are at each side of the window, one accessing the apartment above and one leading into the shop. A large lyrical symbol extends upward from the overhang to above the second floor.  The second floor displays four leaded glass windows.

After Krause died in 1929, the building was used as a funeral parlor for sixty years and was briefly a small museum before its purchase in May 2005 by Studio V Design owners, Pooja and Peter Vukosavich.  The building was registered as a Chicago Landmark in 1977, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, received a Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award  and City of Chicago Landmark Award, from the Preservation Council in 2007 and was featured in the Architectural Record in 2008.

Dream team-Larry Kearns, Ann McGuire, Shawn M. Weidner, Pooja Vukosavich, Jake Goldberg(LK)


Four experts, two architects, one for the façade and one for the interior, one general contractor and one landscape architect were involved in the renovation.  Each of the contributors explained their roles during the tour.

The Zen garden's focal point(LK)


Our small group began the tour in the small Zen garden with landscaper Shawn M. Weidner.  This outdoor area is designed to blend indoors and outdoors.  As enthusiastic stewards of this historic property and as designers, Pooja and Peter set the stage for the garden using a Budda as the focal point and stones they selected and patterned to form the patio area.  Shawn explained how the challenge of incorporating wood, metal, water and fire into this space was managed and the basis for plant selection.  Completed, it is a space that offers calm and comfort and is a great area for entertaining.

Hand picked stones form the patio(LK)


Anne McGuire, Façade Restoration Architect, with McGuire, Igleski & Assoc., Inc. explained  how the preservation of the façade was accomplished.  Studying historic photos was a helpful starting place.  Next, a rubber mallet was used to sound test the Terra Cotta blocks to find where weakness and imperfection existed.  This method revealed a weakness in a beam above the second floor windows.  Repairing this required pulling out a 400lb block to reach the beam. All the original blocks could be repaired and the challenge of replacing them was managed. The grout needed attention.  It was in very poor condition and crumbly, requiring replacement. Because areas of the facade had been bleached by earlier acid cleaning,  a charcoal grey color was ultimately chosen to replace the original that was closer to black.  Electrical circuits were repaired so the lights in the marquee could turn on.  The resulting restored façade is beautiful.

Upstairs windows(LK)


When architect Larry Kearns approached restoration of the interior of the building, he learned that the only area where the original design features existed was the upstairs living space.  The first floor and basement areas were pretty well stripped when the space was used for a funeral parlor.  With nothing except the original floor to preserve in these areas, they were gutted.  After that challenges remained in managing the space so there was maximum light, an indoor-outdoor feeling and enough privacy for creative work to be accomplished.  A choice was made to use the north side as a utilitarian area.  The other side, entered through the front door, is an aisle that continues to the back garden.  The Budda can be seen from most of the interior, offering a feeling of serenity.   The free span ceiling was installed to manage the acoustics in the building.  Glass and semi-transparent screens divide space.

Electrical needs, washrooms etc placed toward the back


Jake Goldberg of Goldberg General Contracting, Inc. spoke to us about his personal relationship to this building, growing up nearby.  He also mentioned that he had two bosses with the two architectural firms.  Pooja, praised their work being pleased with the final result completion within the promised time frame.

Clean lines from the entry to the Budda in the back


The completed project is a treat. The contrast of the old, embellished façade and the new, clean, open interior is captivating. In addition, the clean lines and light wood interior provide an ideal setting for display of works of art collected by the current owners during travels in the South Pacific.   From the enthusiasm of each of the members who participated in this historic renovation, the project met expectations.  For tour participants, this was a great chance to learn about what it takes to achieve an award winning result.

Studio V Design at 4611 Lincoln, Chicago, IL offers the following services: branding, logos, strategy, product launches, brochures, advertisements, videos, and websites.  You can learn more at www.studiovdesign.com.  A visit whether to pass by the façade or to engage Studio V Design is certain to be an interesting experience.

Learn more about Chicago Architectural Foundation at: www.architecture.org  or call 312.922.3432.

Photos: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing,   Leon Keer

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