Edgewater Teaser #14
By: LeRoy Blommaert
In the last issue, we asked “What is the story of this property at 5755 N. Ridge?” [Note: also known as 5757 N. Ridge]
The original purpose of this building has intrigued a number of people for some time. While its last use before its current yet-to-be-completed make-over clearly shows it was used as an auto repair shop, its architecture suggests something more grand. Could it have been a movie theatre?
The author had the same thought a number of years ago and asked his father, who had moved to Edgewater in 1922 when he was 10 and remained an Edgewater resident for at least the next 35 years. As far as his father remembered, the building had never been a movie theatre and had always been a garage of some sort. A few years ago, the current owner told Thom Greene, his consulting architect, that his mother remembered watching silent movies in the building, and so another urban legend was born. But is it true?
As is so often the case, the documents reveal the truth and dispel the fantasy. They reveal that a permit was issued April 13, 1922, to owner A.C. Thompson for a two story sales room at 5755 N Ridge, with an estimated cost of $40,000. The architect was given as Held or Huld. The permit record shows that a floor test on the garage was prepared September 26, 1922, and that the project was completed on September 29, 1922, the date of the final inspection.
An April 27, 1924, display ad in the Chicago Tribune reveals the business at the new building: the Glenwood Motor Sales Company, an Oldsmobile-Six dealer. A similar ad appeared July 3, 1927. This information is consistent with the information in the tract books of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, which show that a warranted deed was granted to Caroline C. Thomson on April 13, 1917, and that a lease was issued to the Glenwood Motor Sales Corporation on April 8, 1922, just a few days before the permit was issued.
So the building wasn’t built as a movie theatre. It wasn’t built solely as a garage either. Rather it was built as an auto sales show room, similar in kind to those built on Broadway in both Edgewater and Uptown in the 1920s, the most elegant of which, at 5948-60 N. Broadway, was until recently the home of the Broadway Bank (now MB Financial). Why it was built on Ridge, somewhat removed from the others, we will never know.
The building didn’t remain an auto sales show room for too long. A November 1934 Chicago Tribune classified ad for a “like new” Ford by a private party gives the location as a “no side gar 5755 Ridge.” And on July 26, 1946, Tribune article reveals that the building was the home of the Ridge Liquor Store, although the address could have been in error. The 1955 criss-cross telephone directory shows “Baums Automobile” at 5755 N. Ridge.
The building at 1130 W. Bryn Mawr displays the name “Michels” at the very top (see bottom of left column). Who or what was “Michels”?