2620 w washington blvd.
chicago, il 60612
management@2620loftsChicago.com





2620 Lofts was developed to save a great historic building from a famous architect and provide large, bright, interesting living space with 68 units, indoor heated parking, roof deck, and more. The intent was to keep the architectural beauty and provide a totally renovated modern living, beautiful, true industrial, concrete residential “TRUE” loft living with roof top amenities (grills, lounge sofas, cafe tables), city and sunset views, indoor heated parking, security and other amenities. Development lead by LK Growth LLC, a Chicago-based real estate company that solely focuses on adaptive reuse projects and on the preservation of historically significant structures...


The Lindemann & Hoverson (L&H) Company Showroom and Warehouse Building, located at 2620 W. Washington Boulevard in Chicago's East Garfield Park, is a rare industrial design by noted late 19th- and early 20th-century Chicago architect Paul Gerhardt, Sr. Gerhardt, whose 50-year career includes celebrated designs for Cook County Hospital and a number of monumental Chicago public schools, was also a pioneer in the design of reinforced concrete industrial buildings. The six-story L&H Company Showroom and Warehouse is a mercantile building of reinforced concrete, flat slab construction with a handsome pressed brick and terra cotta exterior. It features classical white glazed terra cotta ornamentation along the first and second story façades and at the roof line, with an elegant terra cotta-clad showroom inside its first floor to showcase the company's product line.

The building was constructed in 1924 as a sales showroom and warehouse for Milwaukee-based A. J. Lindemann & H. C. Hoverson Company, which specialized in the manufacture of a wide range of heating devices, including stoves, ranges, and water heaters, as well as kitchen appliances like hot plates and waffle irons. Since firms in mercantile buildings of the early 20th-century required rail service to move their products, the Lindemann & Hoverson Company of Milwaukee chose a location in an industrial corridor along the Chicago & North Western Railway and Penn Central tracks at the eastern edge of the East Garfield Park community. The L&H Company occupied this Chicago location for 17 years from 1924 until 1941. It was then occupied by International Register Company of Chicago until 1958 and remained a storage facility by a succession of companies until recent years. Today, the L&H Company Showroom and Warehouse Building is one of the few remaining significant examples of early 20th-century industrial architecture within East Garfield Park's once thriving industrial corridor.

ARCHITECTURE OF THE L&H COMPANY BUILDING

Paul Gerhardt, Sr.'s design for the L&H Company Showroom and Warehouse combines a typical 1920s flat slab reinforced concrete structure with a finely detailed pressed brick and terra cotta exterior. Flat slab construction consists of a grid network of wide concrete columns with flared tops and flat concrete plates supporting reinforced concrete floor slabs. This type of construction, with open floor plans that could accommodate a variety of uses, was especially suited for the L&H Company, which planned to occupy the first three floors of the building and rent out the rest as office and warehouse space. Although concrete loft buildings were usually functional structures that were not highly ornamented, Gerhardt's design for the six-story L&H Company Building features an impressive two-story terra cotta base with fluted pilasters, four stacked floors faced in red pressed brick, and a terra cotta cornice at the top. The first-story ornamentation was undoubtedly meant to draw attention to the company's showroom, the entire interior of which was also covered with gleaming white terra cotta.

The internal concrete structure of the L&H Company Building is displayed on the outside in the simple grid appearance of its applied pressed brick facades. Window bays are separated by soaring vertical brick piers, and floors are divided horizontally by brick panels accented with circular terra cotta medallions. Capitals for the brick piers are circular panels with central rosettes and draping garland, which mark the window bays on three sides of the building and wrap around the corners of the east (railroad) facade. There are terra cotta rectangular panels with winged horses (Pegasus) and projecting cornices that cap the exterior design, and other foliated ornament in the cornice itself.

Besides terra cotta ornament, the building's brickwork is also notable. Window and door openings are accented with brick soldier course lintels and brick dentils just below terra cotta sills. Brickwork also accents the classically inspired three-bay truck façade, framed by a slightly projecting brick portico, with brick dentil frieze, brick pilasters, and terra cotta panels.

A striking two-story, white terra cotta base visibly indicates the showroom portion of this mercantile building. Elegant fluted terra cotta pilasters divide bays along the first and second stories of the front façade and part of the west side façade. Above the pilasters is a terra cotta frieze displaying a repeated Greek key motif and rosettes. The ground floor once featured large display windows on the front and wrapping around two bays of the west side. The principal entry in the easternmost bay on the front façade has a classical pediment topping a double door entry, generous sidelights and transoms. The frieze above it has a Greek key design and rosettes, while the foliated cornice is marked with lion heads. This entry leads into a lobby which is the formal entrance to the showroom.

The west (Talman Avenue) façade of the building has a secondary, employees entrance also trimmed in some ornamental terra cotta. On either side a few of the original multi-light metal sash are still in place. There is a three-bay truck loading dock where the company's products could be brought in and out of the building and into the adjacent showroom. The north (Maypole Avenue) façade has similar window openings and brick and terra cotta treatment as the west facade. The ground floor has a variety of different openings, including a single truck dock and another secondary entrance, although with no ornamentation. The east (railroad) façade is considerably plainer. Service dock openings also line this façade, where rail transit is situated. According to historic photographs, window openings on the principal and two secondary facades originally had three grouped fixed metal sash with pivoting metal hopper windows at the center. Almost all window openings were infilled with concrete block in 1979.

Metal fire escapes, supplied by the Standard Fire Escape Company of Chicago, appear on the west and north facades. At one time, a water tank was located towards the east end of the building on the roof. The brick platform still remains indicating its former location. Adjacent to the platform is a brick rectangular tower.

The interior of the L&H Company Building was designed for two purposes: the first was to house a company showroom with attractive finishes to highlight the company's products, while the remainder of the building was to accommodate a warehouse with optimum functional utility. Both types of spaces are still clearly marked by interior finishes and treatments. Just inside the front entrance on Washington Boulevard is the main lobby, two steps up from ground level, with white glazed terra cotta tile walls and ornamental plaster crown moldings. A fireplace, with terra cotta mantel and foliated rectangular panel above, graces the east wall. Although the lobby was altered sometime after 1941, terra cotta tile, decorative frieze, and decorative plaster crown and cove molding still indicate the original space. At the rear of the lobby, the main staircase retains white, glazed terra cotta tile up to the level of the second floor landing, terrazzo steps and landing floors, and simple metal stair post and rails.

Through wood double doors on the west wall of the first floor lobby is the original showroom. Similar to the lobby, the walls are lined with glazed white terra cotta, and have decorative plaster crown and coved moldings above. Pilasters along the showroom walls have octagonal white glazed, terra cotta panel inserts with decorative urn designs and a tile frieze above with rosettes. Along the north wall of the showroom are three arched doorways with fluted tile frieze and central rosette. Terrazzo floors are found throughout the principal first floor spaces -- the lobby and showroom. Later wood partitions for the 1941 personnel offices of the International Register Company have almost all been removed.

Rear spaces on the first floor were built for warehouse purposes and are utilitarian in appearance. At the center of the building at the west end is the concrete loading platform and three-bay truck dock. Adjacent to the truck dock is the secondary entrance and staircase, with simple utilitarian finishes and directly across on the east wall are two freight elevators. The remaining five floors of the structure are reached by the principal staircase at the southeast end of the building and the secondary staircase at the west central part of the building. Built originally for warehouse purposes, these five floors are mainly open and unfinished, with exposed concrete columns and flared capitals. Each floor now has a partitioned office in the southeast corner, constructed by individual tenants at different times after 1941.

For a straightforward, industrial warehouse structure, Gerhardt designed a building whose exterior clearly expresses and distinguishes its two interior functions. The terra cotta framing of the ground floor showroom space calls attention to the large display windows where the company's products would have been visible. The more utilitarian treatment of the upper floor facades in brick is suitable for their warehouse function. The cornice which tops the building is reflective of classical orders, yet individualistic in its ornamental detail. Despite the loss of most of the original windows in this building, the masonry materials and configuration of all exterior facades are completely intact. On the inside, the entry lobby and main showroom also retain original materials and configurations and the rear of the first floor and all upper floors display the open floors with exposed concrete columns, floors, and ceilings that typify this type of industrial construction.

INDUSTRIAL ARCHITECTURE AND THE L & H COMPANY SHOWROOM AND WAREHOUSE BUILDING

The industrial building as a building type was first created after 1800 when manufacturing shifted away from individual artisans laboring in small workshops to a process that involved a series of large machines, each doing a separate task, to create a single product. This introduced the need for special purpose structures designed and built just for industry. Many early industrial buildings were one-story buildings, however in urban areas where land values were high and space was in demand, the industrial building evolved into a new type: the multi-story industrial loft building. The loft is multi-purpose and can be used for manufacturing and assembly operations, materials storage, office and support functions, machine shop and equipment repair, and a variety of other industry-specific uses. The Lindemann & Hoverson Company Showroom and Warehouse Building is a prime example of the multi-story industrial loft building type.

The loft is generally rectangular with a flat roof and may be one of several types of construction - standard mill timber frame, reinforced concrete, or steel skeleton construction. Standard mill construction, which predominated in the 19th century, has a framework of heavy wood columns supporting timber beams, and small wood, double hung windows penetrating thick masonry exterior walls. Reinforced concrete became the primary structural material for multi-story loft construction after 1900. This material permitted a structural skeleton with wide areas between columns to be filled with windows for maximum daylight. Structures of concrete were more fire-resistant, less susceptible to vibration, cleaner and safer than wood or load-bearing brick.

Two variations of reinforced concrete construction were employed in the early 20th century: beam and girder construction and flat slab construction. Flat slab construction, as seen in the L&H Company Building, features wide, usually round columns having flared tops (the "mushroom system") that support broad, flat, concrete plates. These columns and plates in turn support a reinforced concrete floor slab of uniform thickness with no dropped beams. This became the preferred method after 1920 because it permitted easy installation of uninterrupted conduit and ducts along the ceilings. Ceilings were characteristically 12-14 feet tall and the structures had flat roofs similar to mill construction. Freed from load-bearing requirements, exterior walls could be curtain walls with large expanses of windows. Multi-light steel sash were favored for providing more light and ventilation. Typical window configurations included operable center pivot (as found in the L&H Company Building), awning, or hopper sections that opened with rods or pull chains.

The first American patents in reinforced concrete construction were attained in the late 1860s and in 1875 the first successful reinforced concrete building was constructed by engineer William Ward in Port Chester, New York. Experiments by engineers in France and America in the late 19th century and early 20th century furthered the use of reinforced concrete. By 1907, civil engineer Claude A. P. Turner had developed the "Mushroom System" of flat slab construction and his work was published in Western Architect in May 1907. The "Mushroom System" embedded reinforcing bars in the floor slabs, extending from column to column. It is named for the flared shape of the concrete column heads that spread the weight of the floors throughout the building.

Reinforced concrete loft structures built between 1900 and 1930 were often utilitarian structures designed by engineers, without benefit of an architect. Lesser-known firms borrowed the new technology from trade publications and offered their services to economy-minded industrialists. Yet, a handful of architects, including those based in Chicago, brought attention to refining techniques in reinforced concrete construction and inserted architectural interest into what had once been featureless construction. Better industrial buildings of this era in Chicago reflect experimentation with wall treatments and decorative elements either by integrating dramatic decorative detailing based on past historic styles or by expressing modernity in proportional designs with simplified ornamentation.

Gerhardt, as a pioneer in reinforced concrete construction, naturally chose this type of loft construction for its fireproof, strength, and vibration-free qualities. Its open floor plans could accommodate a variety of uses, especially suited for the L&H Company, which planned to occupy the first three floors of the building and rent out the rest as office and warehouse space. Although Gerhardt used continuous window walls in other multi-story industrial loft buildings, his client was looking for a warehouse and showroom structure that did not demand high levels of light for efficient production. Instead, Gerhardt focused on the L&H Company's dual purpose, creating a showroom and mercantile storage facility.

For a straightforward, industrial structure, Gerhardt has designed a building whose exterior clearly expresses and distinguishes its two interior functions. The terra cotta framing of the ground floor showroom space undoubtedly calls attention to the large showroom display windows where the company's products would have been visible. The more utilitarian treatment of the upper floor facades in brick is suitable for their warehouse function. The showroom interior was covered with gleaming white terra cotta, while the warehouse spaces are strictly utilitarian. Generally well-executed warehouse architecture tends to exhibit to decorative treatments at doorways, draw attention to corners, detailed cornices and parapets, and insert strong banding or vertical elements to break up the monotony of the grid-like structure. Gerhardt's design for the six-story L&H Building features strong brick elements and elaborate terra cotta and treatment. The cornice that tops the building is reflective of classical orders, yet individualistic in its ornamental detail. The main entrance, with intricate terra cotta pediment and entry, intentionally was placed on the "boulevard side," whose connotation with status and high-end real estate also dictated a more elaborate architectural expression.

PAUL GERHARDT, SR.

When the Lindemann & Hoverson Company sought an architect for their new building in Chicago, they looked for an expert in industrial building design. Chicago's emergence as a major U.S. manufacturing center offered considerable work and exciting challenges to architects who were pioneering achievements in concrete engineering and innovative industrial building design. Chicago architects such as Alfred Alschuler, George C. Nimmons, Howard Van Doren Shaw, and Richard Schmidt are recognized for having forwarded the industrial factory from earlier featureless structures to aesthetically pleasing designs. Another of these pioneering architects was German-born Paul Gerhardt, Sr., whose arrival in the U.S. was due to his industrial building expertise.

Paul Gerhardt, Sr. was born in Dobeln, Saxony, Germany on December 24, 1863, attended the Royal Academy in Leipzig and earned an engineering degree at the Technical University of Hanover in 1884. He came to the United States in 1890, at the behest of the German Textile Corporation, to design and construct spinning mills. His expertise with textile mills led to an understanding of utilitarian forms and industrial processes, leading him to design one of the largest mills in the United States -- the Botany Worsted Mill in Passaic, New Jersey. Gerhardt continued to take commissions for other large manufacturing facilities throughout his career, including several mill complexes, a plant for International Gas Engine Company, LaPorte, IN (1904), and a distillery in Elgin, Illinois.

In 1893, soon after his arrival in Chicago, Gerhardt started his own architectural firm, taking on various residential, commercial, and industrial projects. Prolific in the first decade of the twentieth century, his list of projects from the American Contractor alone numbers nearly 70 between 1898 and 1910. Projects announced in the Chicago Daily Tribune from that period include apartment and flat buildings, such as the Portage brownstone-clad "Roseberry Flats" on Elaine Street (1896). Additionally, by 1910, Gerhardt's Who's Who listing cites him as the architect for "many warehouses, mercantile buildings, and hotels" in and around Chicago.

According to Frank A. Randall's History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago, Gerhardt's works of the period include: the Hall Building (1908, demolished), 440-472 W. Superior Street, a seven-story industrial building of heavy mill construction; the pioneering Winston Building (1911, demolished), 341-349 E. Ohio Street, a seven-story industrial building of flat slab construction and concrete exterior. Some of his most noted designs in his early career in Chicago were hotels and restaurants for German clientele, including an earlier Bismarck Hotel, the Rienzi restaurant and at least ten tavern buildings in Chicago for the Pabst Brewing Company constructed between 1898 and 1910.

In December of 1910, Gerhardt was picked to replace William Holabird as Cook County architect. Soon after, the Cook County Board announced that a new building would be constructed. As county architect, Gerhardt drew up designs for the new hospital, an impressive and recognized Beaux Arts building that still stands today along Harrison Street. However due to numerous clashes with the Board over the hospital building and other issues, Gerhardt was forced to resign his post as County Architect to Richard Schmidt in January of 1913. The design of the hospital, which was completed within the year, was Gerhardt's, and remains one of his best-known buildings.

After leaving his position as county architect, Gerhardt returned to private practice until 1928, when he was chosen to serve as supervising architect for the Chicago Board of Education. Some of the more notable school buildings designed by Gerhardt during his three-year tenure include the mammoth Lane Technical High School at 2501 W. Addison (1930) and ornamental Von Steuben High School at 5021-55 N. Kimball. Gerhardt's son, Paul Gerhardt, Jr., FAIA, who had joined his father's firm following graduation from Yale University in 1921, succeeded him as City Architect in 1929.

Paul Gerhardt designed the L&H Company Mercantile Building between his position as Cook County architect and architect for the Chicago Board of Education. According to notices in the Chicago Tribune, Gerhardt continued to take commissions similar to those he had in the first decade of the twentieth century, including hotels, multi-family residences, mercantile and manufacturing buildings, and some commercial structures. Some of the known buildings Gerhardt designed in Chicago during this time period, including the Three Links Temple, now DANK-HAUS (a German cultural center) at 4740-48 N. Western Avenue; the Schlake Dye Works Plant, 4203 W. Grand Avenue (1921); the Fraternal Order of Eagles Building (c. 1921, demolished), Carpenters' District Council Building, Midland Club, and the Edgewater Athletic Club (c. 1928, demolished). Many buildings designed by Gerhardt were announced in local newspapers and architectural publications were for hotels, small commercial buildings, and apartment buildings.

Although Paul Gerhardt, Sr. is best known for his municipal and school designs, he was a pioneer in industrial architecture for his efforts to increase the glazed wall area of reinforced concrete buildings. In 1917, Gerhardt patented a new type of industrial reinforced concrete loft design, particularly for introducing continuous sash or window walls to industrial buildings. Patent number 1,243,281, dated October 16, 1917 proposed illuminating interior spaces by introducing the supporting floor columns in back of the sash line and extended floor slabs six inches to allow for continuous window walls. Gerhardt's Winston Building (1917, demolished), 341-349 E. Ohio Street, a seven-story industrial building of flat slab construction and concrete exterior was considered the first structure of this construction type. Seven years after his patent in 1924, Gerhardt, Sr. was hired as architect for the L&H Company Warehouse & Showroom. The building is of flat slab, reinforced concrete loft-type construction, the preferred industrial building type in Chicago after 1900, but although it has wide window bays, did not utilize his patented design.

Although a variety of sources state that Gerhardt designed many mercantile buildings and warehouses in Chicago during his architectural career, very few of those buildings are known today. Of the thirteen buildings attributed to Gerhardt in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, only two— the Ontario Building at 411 W. Ontari o Street (1916), a manufacturing building and the Marty Building at 216 W. Ohio Street (1915), a mercantile building with Renaissance Revival-style inspiration -- appear to be industrial. Most of the rest of his work is either residential or school buildings from Gerhardt's tenure as architect for the Chicago Board of Education. The L&H Company Showroom and Warehouse Building is one of the rare known examples of Paul Gerhardt's industrial designs still standing in the city.

HISTORY OF THE A. J. LINDEMANN & H. C. HOVERSON COMPANY

When the A. J. Lindemann & H. C. Hoverson Company of Milwaukee decided to open a showroom and warehouse in 1924 in Chicago's East Garfield Park community area, they were already an established firm. Lindemann & Hoverson Company, incorporated in 1890, had its beginnings in the mid-1870s as a small hardware store started by Albert J. Lindemann and his father, John, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The father-son team soon expanded the business with light metal work and "tinning," and by the time Albert teamed up with partner H. C. Hoverson in 1890, the firm was doing a brisk business selling light steel cooking utensils and pans as well as solid fuel stoves and ranges.

The newly-formed company opened a five-story factory on Hanover Street in Milwaukee, employing over 200 people in the manufacture of its wood and coal burning stoves. They also opened their first office in Chicago, at 620 Orleans Street. This location served as their headquarters and sales center in the city until the construction of the L&H Building in 1924.

Although the company offered a wide variety of products, they were best known for their ornate stove designs, many of which were patented. The L&H Company continued to evolve and broaden their product range as wood and coal gave way to gas and oil. The company reached its peak in the mid-1920s, with the introduction of a complete line of electric ranges and small electric appliances, including toaster ovens, hot plates, waffle irons, and lanterns. At the same time it opened a sprawling 10-acre factory complex on Cleveland Avenue in Milwaukee that housed more than 1000 workers. It is not surprising, that it was during this period that the company chose to construct a new showroom and office space in Chicago.

In 1924, the L&H Company purchased a property owned by the Chicago & North Western Railway (C & NW) aside tracks that ran north and south at Talman Avenue. Here they constructed their 99x190x70 brick and terra cotta mercantile building. The company's action made headlines when the real estate column in the Chicago Daily Tribune reported on the construction of this important warehouse. Al Chase wrote:

"Contracts were let yesterday and work is to start at once on a six story warehouse and office building, to cost $475,000 and to occupy the entire block of west frontage on Talman, extending from Washington Boulevard to Park Avenue and east to the Chicago and Northwestern tracks. It will be erected by the A. J. Lindemann & Hoverson Company of Milwaukee, makers of various kinds of stoves and ranges, from plans by Architect Paul Gehrhardt (sic). The stove concern will use two or three floors and rent the balance. There'll be offices on each floor on the boulevard side of the new building, with the balance of the space for warehouse purposes. The property, 190 feet on Talman and 80 feet on both Washington and Park, was bought from the Northwestern railroad for $45,000. The buyer is one of the oldest concerns of its kind in the middlewest, having operated a factory in Milwaukee for forty years. It has maintained a Chicago branch at 620 Orleans for thirty years. George W. Rue is manager."

Lindeman & Hoverson Company continued to prosper until the late 1930s, when a series of bitter labor disputes compromised production. The company discontinued its line of small electric appliances, leaving intact the manufacture of stove, ranges, and heaters. A. J.

Lindemann retired as president of the company in 1939, just two years before his death. Lindemann's son Eugene took over the running of the company. In 1941, L&H Company left their showroom and warehouse on Washington Boulevard, which became occupied by the International Register Company of Chicago. In 1958, L&H was bought by Chilton Metal Products, Inc. and Otto A. Boheim, both of Wisconsin.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

CITY OF CHICAGO

Richard M. Daley, Mayor

Department of Planning and Development

Lori T. Healey, Commissioner

Brian Goeken, Deputy Commissioner for Landmarks

Project Staff

Terry Tatum, project director

Victoria Granacki, Granacki Historic Consultants, writing, photography Jennifer Kenny and Lara Ramsey, Granacki Historic Consultants, research

 

 

 

 



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