WBEZ | closes http://www.wbez.org/tags/closes Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sears to shut two of its oldest stores: What should be the buildings' fate? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-05/sears-shut-two-its-oldest-stores-what-should-be-buildings-fate-107068 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P5063038_0.jpg" style="width: 640px; height: 426px;" title="" /></p><p>A year ago almost to the day, I wrote in this space: &quot;Hey Sears: I passed your East 79th Street store a few days ago. From the front, I couldn&#39;t tell if the store was open or closed...&quot;</p><p>That was May 8, 2012. There&#39;s no wondering anymore. &quot;Store Closing Sale&quot; signs have now appeared in the window of the Sears department store, 1334 E. 79th St. Built in 1925, the long, two-story beige brick building with an iconic tower that can been seen for blocks is <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/05/06/grand-crossing-neighborhood-fears-blight-with-sears-closing/">set to close in July</a>. Designed from plans by architect George C. Nimmons, the store has been a fixture for almost 90 years.</p><p>In addition to the 79th Street store in the above photo, the Sears at 62nd and Western, built in 1928 in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood will also close. The two establishments are among the oldest stand-alone department stores Sears built, representing the retailer&#39;s expansion from a purely mail-order house--a World War I-era Amazon.com--to a 20th century retail giant. Sears&#39; first stand-alone department store, built in 1925 at 1900 W. Lawrence, will remain open. A 1966 Sears store in Calumet City&#39;s River Oaks Mall will close next month.</p><p>Here is the Chicago Lawn community store:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P5063050_0.jpg" title="" /></p><p>Sears isn&#39;t saying much about the closings or the buildings&#39; future, which should raise concern, given the company has been as bad steward of Nimmons&#39; elegant building &ndash; even during financially good times.</p><p>The company blacked out the windows on the three-story front elevation of the Chicago Lawn store years ago, giving the building a blank-eyed look along Western Avenue. On 79th Street the sins were worse: Sears bricked over virtually all of the two-story building&#39;s windows and shaved off projecting cornices, turning Nimmons&#39; glassy and collegiate building into a bunker.&nbsp;</p><p>The clumsy alterations muddle-up the architect&#39;s intent and thus works against any idea to preserve the buildings for architectural reasons. For urban planning reasons, though, the stores should be kept and reused because neither neighborhood would benefit from them being demolished.</p><p>But how might the buildings be reused? Let&#39;s have a discussion &ndash; and any remembrances of these Sears stores--in the comments section below.</p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-05/sears-shut-two-its-oldest-stores-what-should-be-buildings-fate-107068 Theater, the art of the impossible: Infamous Commonwealth shuts down http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-25/theater-art-impossible-infamous-commonwealth-shuts-down-89598 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-25/the fifth of july broken bigger.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at: 9:13 am 7/26/11</em></p><p>"<a href="http://www.infamouscommonwealth.org/">Infamous Commonwealth</a> Closes Its Doors" said the email dated 9 o'clock this morning. The message from company founder Genevieve Thompson could, unfortunately, have been written by the leaders of many other Chicago theater companies.&nbsp;</p><blockquote>As most of you are aware, the business of running a theatre company in the Chicago community is very hard work. For nine years, our dedicated ensemble members have been working on a strictly volunteer basis. Their passion and dedication has been, in my opinion, unmatched. To work 40 hours a week to pay the bills and then put in another 40 hours a week at your theatre? Without pay? That is truly incredible.</blockquote><blockquote>But, as we've all grown older, our priorities have had to shift. Many of us are unable to volunteer that much time to our company, much as we might want to, because we have important relationships to nurture; we have bigger bills to pay; and we have personal goals to reach. This shift in priorities has made it nearly impossible to keep up with the administration of running our beloved theatre company.</blockquote><p>Usually producing three shows a year exclusively by contemporary playwrights, Infamous Commonwealth devoted each season to a theme, often stunning critics and audiences with the size and scope of many of its ventures, such as Robert Schenkkan's The Kentucky Cycle. The troupe's 27 productions over the years won five non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards and nine After Dark Awards, among other honors. The company just completed its ninth year with Lanford Wilson's <em>The Fifth of July</em>, presented June 11-July 10 at the Raven Theatre, in a season devoted to the theme of sacrifice.</p><p>Yes. A shift in priorities--to, say, making a living or getting an occasional night's sleep or having children. "Nonprofit" really wasn't supposed to mean "all-volunteer" but it's increasingly clear that nonprofit theater has become an art form that eats its young. Infamous Commonwealth will be missed. Will it have died in vain, or will the rest of the Chicago theater community (and especially the funders) take heed and figure out how to move forward so people can make art without starving?</p></p> Mon, 25 Jul 2011 15:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-25/theater-art-impossible-infamous-commonwealth-shuts-down-89598