Built by Chicago banker E. G. Shinner in 1951, Lincoln Village preceded Old Orchard by five years and was considered groundbreaking at the time. The motto of the $2 million dollar shopping center was, “You’ll find it at the Village.” Indeed, when I was growing up, Lincoln Village was our go-to shopping center when we wanted a more intimate experience than Old Orchard. I recently unearthed some 1950s Chicago Tribune ads featuring many Village businesses that existed before I was born and some I remember from my youth, which prompted writing this blog.
Despite a good deal of sleuth work, I have never been able to find any photos of my favorite store, Harmony Hall, and no online mentions, except for a few comments on my blog. It’s almost as if the store never existed. I remember the sidewalk sales during my years working at Bronson Coles Studios. While I rarely found anything, I recall thinking Barnett’s clothing was better suited to middle-aged or older women. The original Lincoln Village shopping center was quaint and intimate – today’s remodeled, re-imagined modern version resembles an ugly strip mall.
Bronson Coles Studios
My close friend Joan worked next door at the Fannie May and saw a sign posted on Bronson Coles that they were looking for somebody to do photo retouching. I started working at the photo studio the beginning of my senior year in high school and came back during summers during college. Joan and I would meet in the communal bathroom in the basement, which was kind of creepy. This was long before cell phones, so we would have to preplan when we’d meet. I lucked out when the full-time darkroom technician Dennis left to start his own studio in Park Ridge. Since I graduated early from high school in January 1976, I was promoted to this role prior to going off to RISD in early September 1976. This was an awesome job for a kid in high school who loved photography!
I recall watching Ryan’s Hope on a tiny television with Merle in the basement and going on an evening jaunt to Pilsen with Judy, Merle, and Renee in Renee’s yellow VW bug, where we chowed down on authentic Mexican sandwiches. Merle is the one who turned me on to Jujubes as a fairly low calorie treat – to this day, it’s still a favorite, especially since I can’t eat chocolate. Diane Alexander White, a very talented photographer and kindred spirit was hired for my position before I left for college. We hung out for a brief period, went on bike rides, and laughed so hard at times in the studio, I nearly peed my pants. Sadly, Judy passed away quite a few years ago, as did Robert Bronson and his entire family within a short time frame, more recently.
RESTAURANTS & FOOD STUFFS
Bagel & Tray
On a rare occasion, one of my Bronson Coles coworkers would pick up lunch here. The first and only time I ordered was in December 1986 when I was pregnant with my daughter. I decided to order chicken soup and take it home – it wasn’t as good as the chicken soup from The Bagel.
What’s Cooking, a mainstay Lincoln Village presence for 42 years, was owned by my parents’ neighbor Sam for quite a few years. He retired long before its 2012 demise, so I assume he sold the restaurant prior to that. A reader of a previous blog remembered going to a restaurant called The Village Cart before What’s Cooking. The 1955 ad includes a restaurant called the Village Grill – I wonder if they’re one and the same.
Village Nut Shop
One warm day in April just prior to the Passover holiday, my older sister who had just turned 15, my younger sister who was 6, and yours truly, who was just shy of 11 walked all the way home from Lincoln Village. I can’t remember if our parents dropped us off, but I can’t imagine we walked both ways. I think we split one treat at the Village Nut Shop because we couldn’t afford more. I thought the novelty-shaped candy containers with tiny colorful candies were so cool.
I remember passing Mal’s Pharmacy and thinking it would be nice if we had money to buy a soda. I also vividly recall all of us walking in the grassy median down Devon west of Crawford and my little sister complaining about being thirsty.
Bresler’s 33 Flavors
In the mid-1970s, Bresler’s Ice Cream opened in Lincoln Village in the same spot as the Village Nut Shop – next to Bronson Coles. One day on my lunch break I saw Lincoln Hall classmate David Eisenberg in front of Bresler’s – we were friends in seventh grade. His family was Orthodox and he went to Ida Crown for high school, so I hadn’t seen him in many years. Alas, I didn’t muster the nerve to say hello.
The Bresler’s chain was sold to Oberweis Dairy in 1987, at which time 300 stores (297 of which were franchises) were still in business. Soon thereafter, the chain was renamed Bresler’s Ice Cream and frozen yogurt was added to the menu to compete with TCBY. Oberweis owned the chain for a mere two years and it changed hands a few more times, even expanding internationally. Here’s an interesting bit of trivia – the original Bresler’s Ice Cream Company founded the fast food chain Henry’s Hamburgers prior to their ice cream shops in 1954. As many blog readers mentioned, Henry’s Hamburgers had a location in Lincolnwood on Lincoln Avenue.
I don’t recall National grocery stores whatsoever, even though there was one in Lincoln Village and another one on the northeast corner of Devon and Crawford. National Supermarkets (aka National Tea) originated in Chicago in 1899. By the late 1960s, it was the fifth largest chain in the U.S. Loblaw bought the company in 1955 and also acquired other brands. In June 1995, Schnucks Markets bought the chain and sold off several regional divisions prior to closing all stores in April 1999.
In the same spot as National, I have to say that this was not one of Treasure Island’s better locations. When the grocery store started out in 1963, it was a truly unique model in Chicago, introducing shoppers to all sorts of wonderful European delicacies. But by the early 2000s, it couldn’t compete with grocery chains with cleaner stores and a wide array of unusual food stuffs (e.g. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods). I remember going to the Treasure Island on Clybourn one last time in 2017 and thinking the store was lackluster and long in the tooth. Although it was sad, it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when they closed their remaining stores in October 2018.
Looking at the ads, it appears that multiple grocery/food stores were in business at the same time – a little surprising for a small mall.
Other Food & Liquor Stores
- Caler & Ness Self-Service Liquors
- Johnstone’s Bakery
- Shinner’s Market
- Sure Save Food Mart
Founded in 1883 by storekeeper William A. Wieboldt, this beloved store closed in 1986 after more than 100 years in business. The largest store at One North State Street in downtown Chicago was established when the company acquired the failed Mandel Brothers store in 1961. The same year, their smallest store (a mere 38,000 square feet) opened in Lincoln Village – it’s this location that’s associated with my fondest memories. My mom collected S&H Green Stamps and as a special treat, she would let each of us redeem the stamps for a little gift, every so often. I still have a quaint gold-filled heart pendant with faux opal that both my younger sister Janet and I picked out. As the David Soul ad reveals, the Lincoln Village location was the only one without a record department!
Howard Juvenile Shops
I clearly remember buying birthday gifts here every time I was invited to a kiddie party during the 1960s. One of these was a giant plush ladybug – I hope the girl I bought it for liked it! My sister had a huge plush turtle my parents bought at Howard Juvenile – she rode it and hung onto its neck – I remember it fraying and eventually tearing as a result. For several years, a favorite of my older sister and I were these checked fairly lightweight wool jackets – our mom bought them at the original Howard Juvenile on Howard Street.
Hit or Miss
This was one of the first off-price retailers in Chicago, and I recall buying several interesting tops at the Lincoln Village location. Unlike T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, and the now defunct Loehmann’s, Hit or Miss only sold women’s clothing and fashion accessories. In 1983, Hit or Miss was owned by the Zayre Corporation. A 1983 article in The New York Times noted that Hit or Miss operated seven stores within a 20-block area in downtown Chicago, three stores in Boston, two in Philadelphia, as well as locations in other cities.
TJX formed as a subsidiary of Zayre in 1987 and assumed control of the company two years later. Hit or Miss severed its ties with TJX through a management-led buyout in 1995. It became a privately owned chain and declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2000. Hit or Miss announced it was closing its remaining 200 stores by the end of 2001. I don’t remember any left in the Chicago area by then, and of course, the Lincoln Village location was long closed. I imagine their demise was partially caused by off-price stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s.
In the early 1980s, I remember a uniform store that sold Chicago Police and Fire Department goods – they wouldn’t sell to you unless you had proof of said employment.
Other Clothing/Shoe Stores
- Eric Salm
- Mandel Brothers
- Peters Shoes
- The Cotton Shop
- The Village Vogue
- Wertheimer’s Harding Furs
Lincoln Village Theater
This theater opened with one screen on August 2, 1968, showing No Way to Treat a Lady starring Rod Steiger. It was split into three cinemas on December 16, 1983. In the late-1980s, Cineplex Odeon added six more screens in a new building on the north end of the plaza. When the new six-screen building opened, the original triplex was renamed Lincoln Village 7-9. In the early 2000’s, Lincoln Village 7-9 was shuttered and demolished, replaced by a now defunct Borders Bookstore. Loews sold Lincoln Village 1-6 to the Village Theatres chain in late-2005. They turned around and sold it to FunAsia in May 2008, prior to the theater closing forever in December 2008. The last time I went to a movie at this theater was to see The Crying Game in late 1994 – it must have been third run by then since it was released in the U.S. in February 1993. My first marriage was on the rocks at the time and I remember reluctantly going to see this with my husband.
While not part of Lincoln Village, Hollywood Kiddieland was right next to it, so I would be remiss not to mention it. I wrote about this beloved amusement park in several other blogs. I was lucky to have one birthday party there and was invited to a few others, including that of my younger sister. As was customary, my little friends and I were picked up at my house on a cool, old red fire truck, its bells jingling all the way. We would frequently see this truck around Lincolnwood with other lucky kids riding merrily all the way to a birthday party at Kiddieland. Later on, a boyfriend I dated briefly my junior year in high school worked at the adjacent batting cages, where we stole wet kisses in his booth. I wrote a poem about this event when I was at RISD, but discarded it later because I thought it was childish. Several blog readers mentioned trampolines, but this attraction may have existed before I was old enough to remember it. I do recall the addition of the large slides that you’d ride down on burlap sacks – similar to the type you find at carnivals today. My mom found this rare Hollywood Kiddieland in a drawer a few years ago – I’m selling it, so let me know if you’re interested!
Village Art Fair
United Audio started out as Devon Hi-Fi with a showroom on Devon and Sacramento. When they moved to Lincoln Village, the name changed to United Audio and they opened several other Chicagoland locations. When it was acquired by Tweeter Home Entertainment Group in January 2000, United Audio stated it has been in business in the Chicago market for more than 40 years with seven stores and approximately $48 million in annual sales. My dad loved this store when it was on Devon and later in Lincoln Village. He bought all his high -end stereo/audio equipment from Fred Friedler, the original owner and a superb, knowledgeable salesman. A Holocaust survivor, Fred was born in Germany on May 20, 1919. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1954, lived in Lincolnwood, and died on December 13, 1976.
I have no recollection of this dime store in Lincoln Village. Actually, we didn’t shop at any Kresges – I guess we were Woolworth loyalists! Founder Sebastian Spering Kresge invested his entire life savings to open two five-and-dime stores in Detroit and Memphis in 1897 with friend and businessman John McCrory. By 1907, Kresge bought out McCrory and was on his own, incorporating and becoming president and chairman of the board. By 1924, there were 257 stores and this grew to 597 by 1929. Although the Great Depression reduced profitability and resulted in some store closings, by 1940, 682 Kresge stores were in business across the U.S. Eleven years after the founder’s death in 1966 at age 99, the name was changed to Kmart.
As I mentioned, this was my favorite store. In addition to all sorts of stationary and office supplies, Harmony Hall sold groovy gifts in the 1960s-1970s. I remember buying original Mad Libs and those funky little round puzzles by Springbok, among other things. Sadly, this cool store isn’t included in the Chicago Tribune ads because it wasn’t in business yet. I sure wish somebody would come forward with an exterior or interior photo of this store!
- Avant Flowers
- Bain Hardware
- Chicago Furniture Mart
- Edith Grosz Jeweler
- Holland Draperies
- Joseph Shoe Clinic
- Lee’s Pharmacy
- Pfaff Sewing Center
- Shoreline Cleaners
- Village Launderette
Photo Sources: Chicago Tribune (Newspapers.com), Cinema Treasures, eBay, 70sSkokie.blogspot, Yelp