1908Covered in deteriorating vinyl siding and panel brick, a tattered awning, and a jumble of signs, the Kunisch Barber Shop building (now home to Teresa Tailor and Cleaners - although it is up for lease), is a bit of an eyesore these days. But it is in all likelihood the oldest remaining business building in downtown Des Plaines.
A barber for 78 years, Kunisch was Des Plaines' first, and he would continue to serve the city for 66 years until 1950, when he retired as one of the longest-practicing barbers in the nation.
Julius Kunisch enjoys the scenic beauty of the Des Plaines River near Algonquin Road, 1898
Kunisch was a valued member of the community, because he saw it grow from a tiny community to the sparks of the large suburb it was in 1954 when he died. He went from cutting pompadours to center parts to crew cuts, and watched straight razor shaves fall to the electric razor, all while grooming four generations of Des Plaines citizens. Kunisch reminisced about the morning his shop first opened in 1886, with a line of customers waiting at 9:30 a.m. that lasted nonstop until 1:30 a.m. the next day. He remained the sole barber in town for 10 years, when Harry Rabson's shop opened.
1950sAround 1935, the building was "modernized" with a stucco front and a row of windows on the second floor. After Kunisch retired in 1949, the new tenant was the Des Plaines Currency Exchange, which moved down the street in the mid-60s. A series of temp agencies (Larson, Zenith, Medical Health, Ivy) then occupied it before Teresa Tailor moved in. With the lease up, maybe it is a good time to restore the facade to its original appearance.