Final Landmark Recommendation Made For The Warehouse Birthplace Of House

The Warehouse via Preservation Chicago

A final landmark recommendation has been made by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks for The Warehouse at 204-208 S Jefferson Street in West Loop Gate. Located in a small unassuming building near the intersection with W Adams Street, the structure is considered the birthplace of house music in the late 1970’s to 1980’s. Recently the building went up for sale with no protection against demolition, thus locals and house music fans helped lead the efforts towards landmark designation.

Site context map of The Warehouse via Google Maps

Originally built in 1906 with a rich cream and green glazed brick facade, most of its exterior remains relatively intact since then with minor alterations to the storefronts and updated windows. However in 1975 nightlife organizer Robert Williams purchased the building to construct his own three-story club called The Warehouse opening in 1977, the club quickly grew in popularity especially with Chicago’s Black, Latino, and LGBTQ+ communities as some of its first regular patrons.

Image from The Warehouse via Dazed

Image from The Warehouse via The Basement

Though various DJ’s grazed its stage, DJ Frankie Knuckles came on the scene and began playing with merging the sound of multiple genres to create a new sound. This led to the creation of house music which blends disco, R&B, gospel, and techno among others, the unique sound unified audiences and provided a place for self-expression fostering a new aspect of American culture.

Photo of Frankie Knuckles via the Frankie Knuckles Foundation

The club eventually closed in 1982 but the new genre would grow to become a global powerhouse along with Detroit-born techno until this day. Due to its cultural significance The Warehouse meets the minimum requirement of two landmark qualifications including being an example of architecture or culture of Chicago, and identification with a person who significantly contributed to the city’s culture or development.

Image of The Warehouse via WBEZ

After making this year’s most endangered buildings list from Preservation Chicago, the final recommendation is one of the final steps needed prior to a full landmark designation being granted by the city council. The vote can be expected to pass as well and thus protecting the building for future generations.

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