Kray in 1892 (presumably a different building)
The old Wahl Building, after a 1950s Modernization. The 'before' look can be seen below - much more detail is visible in the unique and attractive brickwork.
No sign of what it looked like before the brick false front. Thanks to Malcolm Mlodoch for this pic.
Walter Harness Shop, circa 1920. Courtesy Des Plaines Historical Society.For many years, the other building on this site was the Joseph Walter Harness Shop. Founded by his father, Jacob Walter, in 1862, it stayed in business with his brother, Philip, until Walter's death in 1941. As a young man, Walter drove a stagecoach between Des Plaines, Shermerville (Northbrook) and West Northfield, carrying passengers and mail. The business was originally on Ellinwood, and moved to Miner Street in the 1890s. The Walters were one of the first Catholic families in Des Plaines, and moved here from Bensenville because the railroad allowed easy access to the nearest Catholic church in Grosse Pointe (Wilmette). They were one of the families who worked to move a small mission church from Arlington Heights via flatcar in 1883, serving as the first St. Mary's.
A 1941 Chicago Tribune article described the shop, already a throwback:
When enter the dark little shop, it is as if you are stepping back into another era. The front of the room is dark and the whole little building has a musty atmosphere. On the walls hang saddles, bridles, and harnesses. In back, in what was once the room set aside for the printers, is the workshop. There one sees the old sewing horses, old spool cases, and box after box lines the shelves that mount to the ceiling. But there is modern equipment, too, for today, two elderly men repair everything from airplane parts to dog harnesses.
In the old days, harnesses were all made by hand and that was about all the shop handled. But Joseph and his brother, Philip, have decided that harness making is too much work and they keep the shop now mainly as a spot where they can kill a little time. People come from all around to have bits of work done.
Before the harness shop, the building served as a drug store, hardware store (the original home of Kinder Hardware), grocery store, post office, and a printing shop where the first newspaper was printed. After Walter's closed, it became S.C. Wessell Real Estate and Becker Roofing. In 1950 Luigi Capozolli moved the building, said to be over 100 years old and Des Plaines' oldest store building, "out to pasture" - it was moved to his farm near Cumberland and Golf Roads, used as an outbuilding. It has since been demolished.
1950 Square Deal Building, featuring a distinctive Midcentury "Exterior Lobby" display front. Photo courtesy Malcolm Mlodoch.
Capozolli then built a new building for his Square Deal Shoe Store. Like Wahl, Square Deal began in Chicago, at Diversey and Milwaukee in 1921. Moving to Des Plaines in 1931 in the Behmiller Building, it grew into the family shoe store we know today. By the 90s the store expanded to the old Wahl site. Square Deal is now in its third generation of family ownership. Square Deal has seen a lot of changes throughout the years, and still displays a size 37 shoe from Robert Wadlow, the world's tallest man at 8'11" in the 1930s (who had a job visiting shoe stores as a promotion) as well as a disabled fluoroscope x-ray shoe fitting machine.