You will soon have a chance to admire Chicago’s favorite Egyptian Revival building like never before.
The Reebie Storage Building at 2325 North Clark Street in Lincoln Park has been turning heads since it opened in 1922. The warehouse was designed by George Kingsley, and its ornamentation executed by Fritz Albert.
For those of you who don’t read a lot of inter-war novels or watch a lot of Antiques Roadshow on PBS or Poirot on ITV2, the 1920’s and 1930’s were a time of intense global fascination with ancient Egypt (actually the revival of a revival). Egyptian history, mythology, and design were as big as bellbottoms in the 1970’s. Trying to contact the spirits of dead pharaohs was the equivalent of having Trivial Pursuit as a party game in the 80’s. Egyptology permeated all of the arts from music to dance to fashion, and even some segments of architecture. Think of the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, where even today star-studded movie premiers are held. On a smaller scale, there’s also the Egyptian Theater in DeKalb. Swing by when you’re out visiting the far west suburban pumpkin patches a few weeks from now.
In Chicago, the Reebie building is our Egyptian temple. And guarding its front door are statues of John Reebie and William Reebie, depicted as 19th Dynasty pharaoh Ramses II.
That’s all most people have seen of the building, because unless you you’re a storage customer, you have no good reason to be in the building. But now you do.
New Elephant Resale Shop is moving into the lobby of the building. That means that when the non-profit store opens for business in September, you’ll be able to browse the architecture while you hunt for bargains.
Store manager Heidi Olson sent over a few photographs showing work progressing on getting the lobby ship shape. Between the stained glass, the painted columns, the apparently original floors, and the magnificent service counter decorated with papyrus reeds, it’s hard to know where to look first.
There isn’t a firm date for opening yet, but when it does, we’ll let you know. Until then, wave to John and William Reebie as you drive by.