Monday, October 11, 2010

Unbuilt Des Plaines: Plew's Triangle

Here's an interesting proposal for a shops, apartments, and gas station building from 1926, which would have been built where Giuseppe's La Cantina Restaurant now stands.

The building was proposed by the W.L. Plew & Co., which developed the adjacent Des Plaines Gardens subdivision, bounded by Algonquin, Lee, the Wisconsin Central, Thacker, and Second. Des Plaines Gardens was started in 1916 by E.B. Kendall, but didn't really take off until Plew took over in 1924. Much of the subdivision was built at that time, although it would not be completed until later. By the late 1930s the subdivision was renamed Westfield as more homes were built.

In the 1920s, new subdivisions often included a collection of neighborhood stores, for the convenience of 1- or 0- car households, as well as apartments. If you see an older store building in Des Plaines outside of downtown, such as the stores that used to be at Prairie & First, chances are it was part of a subdivision.

Unfortunately this triangle building was never built; instead, a few years later a single-story building containing six shops was built, which did have some Tudor style accents like a slate roof. In 1934 First Federal Savings & Loan, run by Mr. Plew, opened its doors here for the first time. First Federal is now part of First Midwest Bank. In 1963 Nick's La Cantina opened, which grew to take over the whole building, and now operates as Giuseppe's; it was fully remodeled in the 1990s, obscuring any trace of the original building.
Typify Good Old Days in New Building
Chicago Daily Tribune, April 18, 1926
Back in the time of good Queen Elizabeth they built their homes and public buildings with high peaked roof, with timbered and beamed facings, and with other picturesque features that have made many romantic souls sigh for the "good old days" - at least architecturally. And then followed all manner of designs - many of which are to the eye as a bit of dust blown by the wind.
But now more and more we find our twentieth century real estate men passing up the current designs in building to go back to the days of long ago in planning new structures.
The latest instance of this is found in Des Plaines, where W. L. Plew & Co. have announced an extensive building program for this summer. Perhaps the most important unit of the program is a large apartment and store building which will be in the Tudor style of architecture.
Frazier, Blouke & Hubbard designed the structure, which will stand on a triangular plot at the intersection of Lee and Walnut streets. It is to have all the beams, high roofs, and plaster finish of the Elizabethhan days, but the owners are twiddling their fingers on their noses at the old timers to the extent of incorporating in it a gasoline filling station. But it must be confessed that the gasoline station, modern as it is, will be in harmony with the rest of the building.
The first floor will contain a number of stores for the use of the community and the upper two will contain kitchenette apartments, adding still another odd mixture of the ancient and the modern.
Previously: Unbuilt Des Plaines: The Arcade - Our first Superblock?


  1. back in the day, going out meant going to the choo choo for lunch, or the Sugar Bowl. weekends I remember as Romano's.

  2. I think I stii have the 'yearbook', titled "Centi-quad-o-rama"


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