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Schubas Tavern Up for Landmark Status

By Katie Bijak | Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Schubas Tavern is one of several Schlitz tied-houses still standing in Chicago. Photo by Katie Bijak.

Schubas Tavern is being considered for landmark status in Chicago, along with the Starbucks building at 2159 W. Belmont and seven other buildings, all formerly owned by Schlitz Brewing Company.

Last October, a proposal was submitted to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to assign landmark status to the building at 3159 N. Southport that was once a Schlitz tied house and now houses Schubas, one of Chicago’s best music venues.

Tied houses are public houses, or pubs, that were required to buy beer from a particular brewery. Eight of the nine buildings up for landmark status are former Schlitz Brewery tied houses. The ninth is a former Schlitz Stable used to house the Schlitz horses.

The trademark Schlitz globe. Photo by Katie Bijak.

Schlitz is a Milwaukee beer with a Chicago history. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Schlitz sent fresh drinking water and hundreds of barrels of beer to Chicago. This earned Schlitz a loyal Chicago following and the reputation—and future slogan—“The beer that made Milwaukee famous.”

While Schlitz no longer owns these buildings, their trademarked “Belted Globe” can be seen on several of the nine Chicago buildings being considered for landmark status.

On Tuesday, March 22, a public hearing was held regarding  landmark designation for six of the nine Schlitz buildings, including the Schubas and Starbucks locations.

One building owner was present with questions about what changes would need to be made to the buildings. No other owners were present. Representatives from Ald. Scott Waguespack’s office and Preservation Chicago were present to express support for these buildings gaining landmark status. No objections were voiced at the public hearing.

An email from Chris Schuba, co-owner of the Schubas building, indicated that they were originally notified of this proposal in April 2010 and again in September 2010.  The Commission on Chicago Landmarks requested the owner’s consent.

“We declined,” Schuba said. “We have owned this building since [October, 1988] and at great expense over the past 22 years have completely restored its original features and ornamentation while maintaining the 108-year-old structure. We continue to operate under its original intended use. Our ambivalence regarding this matter is that it imposes restrictions on our property without any commensurate benefit or incentives.”

Schubas also runs the adjacent restaurant Harmony Grill and the new Lincoln Park music venue Lincoln Hall. Photo by Katie Bijak.

The Commission met for the final time last Thursday, April 7 to review all information before determining whether or not they will make a recommendation to City Council regarding the remaining six buildings.

Five of the tied houses and the stable building were given final approval by the Commission on Historical Landmarks. Next, the buildings will be introduced at the next City Council meeting on May 4, then assigned to a subcommittee on Historical Landmark Preservation.

Three of the tied houses in the original proposal are in different areas of landmark designation process. The South-East Asia Center at 5120 N. Broadway has already passed through the City Council subcommittee and will be presented for a final vote of approval at the May 4 council meeting.

Mac’s American Pub at 1801 W. Division has received the final recommendation from the Commission and will move to the subcommittee shortly. The owner of the third building, Floyd’s Pub at 1944 N. Oakley, has requested a 120-day period to decide whether or not to give consent. The Commission expects to hear from the owner by June 4.

The original proposal and information on Schubas, Starbucks, and the other seven buildings can be found on the city’s website here [PDF].

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