Trim n Tidy: Let's get taken to the cleaners

May 10, 2010


(photo by Lee Bey)

A reader emailed me a day after my post on the mid-century modern Pride Cleaners on 79th Street in March.

"Check out Trim n Tidy Cleaners on Higgins if you get a chance," he said. Over the weekend, I got the chance.

I visited the cleaners at 5939 Higgins in the city's Jefferson Park neighborhood. I'm not sure if it's as clever a piece of architecture as Pride Cleaners--and it seems a little more weather-beaten than its South Side counterpart--but the cleaners has got two things going for it: that great sign and the quite modernist lighted carport canopy supported by the three jauntily-angled trusses.

Built in 1962, Trim n Tidy, like Pride and many other dry cleaners of that age, is a tribute to the postwar car culture: the idea that you'd drive up to the door, rush in, drop off your bundle and speed away. You can imagine a guy--back in the day--making a right turn at the sign's arrow, dropping off his gray flannel suit, then pointing his Imperial out the other side of the u-shaped driveway and heading back out onto the south bound lanes of Higgins Road toward downtown.


(photo by Lee Bey)

Here are the three trusses that hold up the carport canopy. The white surface was too much of a temptation for some joker with a magic marker who wrote "I" "heart" "you"‚  on the front of them. The supports come to rest in a lannonstone planter (that is rather barren right now):


(photo by Lee Bey)


(photo by Lee Bey)
 

I couldn't dig up any historical info on this building though, other than the year it was built. I'd like to know who the architect was, at least. Trim n Tidy is still in business, although I visited it yesterday when it wasn't open.

A couple of things strike me as I look at these photos: (1) the Holiday Inn "Great Sign" of the 1950s and 1960s must have influenced this and a million other road side signs of the era; (2)‚  I wonder how those canopy trusses attach to the building while preserving the clarity and symmetry of the cleaners glass wall facade. More research is in order...