“Last year, Laura Coffey Medina and her husband Michael Medina bought a gorgeous, triangular former Schlitz tied house tavern at 9401 S. Ewing Ave. on Chicago’s South Side that they are working to reopen sometime this year.
“Designed by architect Charles Thisslew and likely built in 1907, the saloon was one of nearly 60 that the Milwaukee brewer erected in the Windy City. Five of the surviving examples – not counting this one – were landmarked by the city in 2011.
“Tied houses used distinctive and high-quality architecture to carve out brand identity and convey an air of respectability. Their substantial buildings were nearly always sited on valuable real estate at prominent corners, where the side doors that could be kept open overnight and on Sundays just so happened to face a street too.”
“The Ewing Avenue tavern has many surviving details of that high-quality approach, including a terra cotta belted Schlitz globe displayed prominently on its front, original tin ceilings, original glass wall sconces, a stunning back bar and objects like a candlestick phone so old it doesn’t even have a dial and a sign dating likely to the 1930s declaring the place a “union bar.”
“The building retains many of its beautiful original features,” Medina told me. “We are keeping and refurbishing everything original we can.” However, one prominent thing is now gone: the large, arched Schlitz globe stained glass window from the Ewing side of the building. “At some point between 2016 and January 2017, the original stained glass Schlitz window was removed from the bar. After that, the building sat unaltered and unused until we bought it from the investor group in 2019.”
“It’s unclear who removed and sold the window. Medina has heard that the stained glass window was sold to a collector in Milwaukee, but that’s just a rumor. Maybe. “We don’t know,” says Medina, “but we’ve heard this from multiple people.”
“Despite the fact that a number of former Schlitz tied houses survive in the Windy City, that window was the last remaining Schlitz tied house stained glass window in Chicago, Medina says. “So this is extremely sad from a historical standpoint, especially since all the other tied houses are landmarked and we want to landmark ours, as well,” Medina says.
“We are planning to have it recreated if we can’t recover it,” she says, “but obviously the original is what belongs on the building for all time.” (Tanzilo, OnMilwaukee.com, 1/22/20)