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Andersonville’s Most Curious Places: Capital Garage, 5545 N. Clark

Facade of Capital Garage building 5545 N. ClarkThe next building is the Capital Garage at 5545 N. Clark suggested by Phyllis Petrilli. I have to admit, this one was a challenge, and I want to thank LeRoy Blommaert of the Edgewater Historical Society, Garret Karp of the Chicago Architectural Foundation, Tim Rasmussen, and Metropolis Coffee for their help. Please excuse my historical mistakes (if any) and if you know anything more concrete please share!

Not a huge surprise, the Capital Garage was built as a garage, although it was a parking one, not a fix-it one. There would have been repairs available on site since cars at the time were finicky. The architect was M.L. Bain, and it was built in 1926. The company Capital Garage was definitely in business until 1928 and closed sometime in the beginning of the Great Depression.

Interestingly (and annoyingly), there was a Capital Garage parking building built in the same year in Washington, D.C. It, however, was demolished in the 1970s.

Like much of the architecture we’ve already looked at, it’s easy to see that Classical influence on the 5545 N. Clark, particularly in the columns, arches, and the eagle and pediment. However, like the others it also moves away from that styling with touches of whimsy such as the art deco-ish patterns next to the name. The yellow brick was fairly common at the time, although was more often seen in bungalows.

Garages and car showrooms at the time often had quite elaborate facades – for example the Chicago Motor Car Company, now New Clark Auto repair at 5007 N. Clark – so Capital Garage isn’t particularly unusual for the period.

I would also be remiss to not mention that Edgewater was quite the motor row at the time, particularly on Broadway. Should you be interested in learning more about the topic the Edgewater Historical Society has a new exhibit, Motoring Through Edgewater.

There are a few other car companies associated with the address, specifically Community Motors, which sold cars, in the late 1920s; and Metis Auto, which made custom cars, in the early 1930s. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find too much information on either one.

After Metis Auto, 5545 N. Clark seemed to be unoccupied for several years, but by the 1950s it was definitely home to Clark Paper & Envelope Co as well as a dry cleaner. It then housed a printing company for the next few decades as well as smaller businesses.

Tim Rasmussen, who owned the building for several years, shared a rumor with me that one of those businesses was a lonely-hearts pen pal service.

By the late 1980s or early 1990s, 5445 N. Clark was occupied by BEC Packaging, a company who made plastic packaging. They sublet the second floor to Micor Media who resold audio-visual and recording equipment. Rasmussen bought the building in 2003, renovated a few years later, and then leased the space to current residents, Athletico, Uptown Animal, and Metropolis’ coffee roasting operations.

Support arch in Capital Garage 5545 N. ClarkMetropolis was kind enough to give me a tour; and I was able to see that building’s interior still retains a few historical features, specifically the supporting arch and the original freight elevator. The elevator is old enough that it can’t be called; the only controls are inside the car.

 

Original 1920s elevator at Capital Garage 5545 N. ClarkMetropolis has actually outgrown the space and will be moving to a larger location in April. Don’t worry – their coffee shop will be staying. They love Edgewater, they just need a lot more space.

So now to the hive mind: what do you know? Any recollections of Clark Paper & Envelope or the printing company?

 

I’d also like to remind everyone that if you know a lot about a historical building in Chicago that you would like to share, please email me! Edgewater-ites are always the best resource on our history!


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