This Chicago, and American, icon makes up an unassuming part of the streetscape on Clark street but represents both a rare and interesting architectural style, Egyptian Revival, and a now-common building type, self storage.
The next time you’re strolling to the Green City Market on a sunny Saturday, wander a little way up Clark and check out the Reebie Storage Warehouse. The blocky blonde brick building is diminutive, at six stories, by busy Clark’s current standards but once stood nearly alone. The ornate decorative front at street level might adorn a bank or fancy residence but, in fact it fronts a storage warehouse … and it always has – the proof is in the original tile signage which tops each of its street facing windows. Designed in 1922 by George Kingsley, represents a very thorough stab at historical accuracy – the designs were checked by Field Museum staff – as noted by Blueprint: Chicago’s 2010 post.
The hieroglyphs on the facade bear relevant messages – a transliteration of the original Reebie founders’ names and the following mottos: “I have protection upon your furniture and all sealed things” and “I have guarded all your property every day warding off devouring flames, likewise robbery.”
The building is both a Chicago Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places, but my own enjoyment of the building usually starts at how it uses the antiquated term “removals” to advertise the company’s moving services and the large “Fireproof” notice; proof itself of Chicago’s lingering paranoia about fire damage just 51 years after the Great Chicago Fire.
Reebie Storage, Then and Now
One of the most interesting things about comparing the building today to this postcard of its early days is the background. There’s nothing at all built to the right and the shrubby forest in the background looks like it goes all the way back to the lake. That makes sense, since Chicago had only annexed the area north of Fullerton (the former City of Lake View) in 1889.
Via the Blueprint Chicago post, here’s the original Reebie storage slogan:
“If old King Tut were alive today he’d store his things the Reebie way!”
Like this post? Check out our other Featuring Chicago profiles, the Auditorium Theater and Marina City, and our Chicago Building Types series including studies of Chicago Bungalows, Courtyard Apartment Buildings, Greystone Flats,Four-Plus-One Apartments and, naturally, Skyscrapers.