Ed Savant wasn’t bothered to see that his building on Harlem Avenue was named as one of Chicagoland’s 10 ugliest in a recent Chicago Tribune article. But he isn’t exactly singing its praises either.
“It’s not a gorgeous building,” Savant admitted, “but it’s hard to believe it would make the top 10.”
The Savant Medical Supply Building at 1215 South Harlem Ave., was panned as an “eyesore, even in the blur of 40 mph,” in an Aug. 24 edition of the Tribune. In the story, the Tribune lumped Savant’s property in with other apparent monstrosities, including the company’s own facility on Chicago Avenue in the city.
First things first, the speed limit on Harlem Avenue at this location is 35 mph, not 40.
Second, Savant has made some improvements to the structure, and one woman who works there said if the building were truly horrific she would get another job.
“I didn’t get any complaints about the building’s appearance in the 12 years I operated the business,” Savant said. “Customers didn’t say, ‘What a horrible building.’ They said, ‘What a wonderful showroom.'”
The interior doesn’t contain any striking unsightliness. An 8,000-square foot showroom displays the latest in health care equipment, such as wheelchairs and hospital beds. There is also a 15,000-square foot warehouse.
Looking at the outside, which is how the Tribune made its determination, the base of the building facing Harlem Avenue is sheathed in brown face brick. Above this is a gray, pebbled surface that rises up to the building’s crowning feature-a metal mansard. This steel structure runs the length of the building in the spirit of the mansard roofs that dominate the skyline of Paris.
The building is so close to Harlem Avenue that cutouts were made in the faade to accommodate street lights. The building’s understated dcor could likely benefit from new window treatments. Some of the windows are covered by pale pink mini-blinds, while others are curtained with faded pink fabric.
The north side of the building is where Savant has made his upgrades. The exterior is decorated in an oxide colored plaster material to compliment the white walls. Also, the entrance is now situated on the north, so that customers don’t have to enter and exit from the Harlem Avenue side.
When Savant bought the property in 1991, he immediately made the improvements to the building’s north side. An architect was employed to design the new entrance and cover the cinder block walls with an earth-toned plaster coating.
“The village of Forest Park was very adamant about how the building was maintained,” Savant said. “It’s a good, solid safe building in a great location.”
The building was constructed in 1953 by a heating and air-conditioning company and later purchased by Bob Kruse, the owner of Aamed Medical Supply, according to Savant. The warehouse was topped by a barrel roof, which is now hidden by the metal mansard. In the late ’70s Kruse added a two-story addition to the south end of the building.
Savant later sold his business to the present tenants and now the building itself is for sale, with an asking price of $1.5 million.