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The building has been sold to Thorek Hospital, which has been spending the last few years buying, bulldozing and landbanking adjacent properties. It began with the apartment building on the corner, leaving behind a chain-linked empty lot that, for a time, inexplicably featured a solitary white plastic chair protected by traffic cones . . .
Uptown Update issued a Call to Action: Landmark Status Needed for 4015-17 N. Sheridan. The building has a long and storied history. According to the AIA Guide to Chicago, it was originally designed by architect Paul Gerhardt in 1920 as a showroom for Hupmobile, a car company in business from 1909 to 1940. Howard Carter's discovery of King Tut's tomb was still two years away, but the Hupmobile showroom's polychrome ornament, complete with central cartouche, indicated Egyptomania was already well underway.
After Hupmobile, but long before Nick's, the building on Sheridan was the long-time home to the Cairo supper club. When I was a very young kid, my family would go to the dinner at the Sheridan Restaurant, just next to the ‘L stop, and in researching this post I was reminded how I was always fascinated by the exotic Egyptian facade of the Cairo, which I recall had a green storefront and a dazzling array of blinking light bulbs. I really would have loved to check it out, if only I could have figured out a way to make a convincing fake ID for a 5-year-old.
What I would have found was a “posh” restaurant featuring steaks, prime sirloin and shish kebab, with nightly dancing and what was then considered sophisticated entertainment. The club was known for booking hypnotists as its headliners, and when one of them didn't show up on July 7, 1961, legendary Chicago magician Marshall Brodien got his chance at the Cairo, which he described as being “like a Las Vegas showroom.” There was candlelight, plush booths, and a bar that at showtime pushed away to create a stage.
Brodien so liked working the Cairo that he developed a hypnotist act so he could continue doing so. His big finish was when he hypnotized an attractive female volunteer from the audience to become stiff as a board, stretched her between two chairs, and stood on her stomach. I am not making this up. See photo, page 103, here.
|photo courtesy Uptown Chicago History|
But I digress.
When a big building is torn down and replaced with a much smaller one, that's called “a taxpayer,” because it's there to generate income to cover the property tax bill until conditions improve enough to justify more ambitious development.
|image courtesy: The Chuckman Collection|
|Image Courtesy: The Chuckman Collection|
Historic Resources Survey, which should trigger an automatic 90-day hold should Thorek file for a demolition permit. Uptown Update's Facebook page is talking about pushing for landmarking.