historically important pre-fire chicago saloon in west town partially demolished

a pre-fire building that has stood on chicago avenue for 149 years is now undergoing a partial demolition and redevelopment, bringing changes which have already significantly altered the existing building. the 3-story red brick facade has been shuttered for some time and notably suffered the removal of an iconic neon sign earlier this year. now, without the lit up "rothschild liquor mart" signage protruding onto the street, and the interior gutted to the point where only exposed brick walls and sub-floors and supporting joists are visible on each floor, the building is a shell of its former self.

on the facade of this former dive bar, decorative brickwork appears centrally with the name, "n. eckhardt," testament to the original occupant and builder. nicholas eckhardt was a german-born immigrant who arrived to chicago in 1854. according to city directories, he held a number of different jobs, being listed as a fireman, pipeman, and county agent in addition to being a saloon owner. in 1867, the building in question was constructed at what was then 448 w. chicago avenue (renumbered to 1532 w. chicago after 1909) to house eckhardt's family and run his business. eckhardt died in 1901, and his son nicholas jr. ran the saloon until 1936.

the demolition of the rear section of the building will leave the identifiable, street-facing portion of the building intact, but unfortunately results in the destruction of a depression-era "butcher boy" walk-in cooler, and a significant portion (if not all) of the "jazz age" art deco tin ceiling panels being ripped down and scrapped. despite this, i hope the developers invest in restoring the facade, including of course, opening up the windows along the upper floors where natural light has not been permitted to enter for decades.

as an addendum, excavation after the demolition work has yielded a large number of interesting bottles and glass fragments, which will be detailed in a follow up post.