What’s That Building? The Krause Music Store

The Krause Music Store on Lincoln Avenue
The Krause Music Store has the most ornate facade on it's block on Lincoln Avenue. Jason Marck / WBEZ
The Krause Music Store on Lincoln Avenue
The Krause Music Store has the most ornate facade on it's block on Lincoln Avenue. Jason Marck / WBEZ

What’s That Building? The Krause Music Store

Tucked away on a busy section of Lincoln Avenue sits a remarkable building that has made people stop and stare since 1922.

Today, it’s up for sale by owners Pooja and Peter Vukosavich — but only by someone who’ll cherish the history of the building. In the past, it’s been used as an office, a funeral home, art gallery and architectural gift shop.

The Krause Music Store’s facade was designed by famous Chicago architect Louis Sullivan and follows his slogan “form follows function.” In this case, the form is a richly-ornamented, gray, terra cotta façade that sets off a big central window made to display pianos.

Like a stage, the large window is surrounded by a frame of lights, flowers and color.

Geometrical and leaf patterns on the Krause Music Store facade
There’s a broad expanse of geometrical and leaf patterns repeating across the façade as it slopes in toward the window. Jason Marck / WBEZ
Original mosaic on sidewalk outside the building.
The owners say that occasionally a passer-by will knock the original mosaic on sidewalk outside the building, and hand them a tile that had come loose. Jason Marck / WBEZ

After the Vukosaviches bought the property in 2005, they embarked on a $1.2 million rehab of the stunning facade and interior. They added a serene Japanese garden out back and rented out the second floor apartment where original owner William Krause lived.

The current owners completely rehabbed the interior after they purchased it in 2007. Jason Marck/WBEZ
The back of the building has been redone to include a peaceful zen garden. Courtesy of Peter Vukosavich

The building is currently up for sale for $2.9 million. The Vukosaviches, who paid $665,000 for the building, want to find somebody who will appreciate, treasure and protect the building as they have.

A sad history

A historic photo of the Krause Music Store
In this historic photo from 1924, there are no buildings on either side of the Krause Music Store. Courtesy of Peter Vukosavich

The Krause Music Store is a beautiful last act in Louis Sullivan’s long career, but it also has a sad history.

Two years after Krause opened, Sullivan died penniless in his room at the former Warren Hotel. In the late 19th century, Sullivan was one of Chicago’s greatest architects. He essentially created the idea that Chicago’s skyscrapers should both look and feel tall. He also designed the Carson Pirie & Scott store (now occupied on the lower floors by Target) and the stunning Auditorium Building on Michigan Avenue. However by the end of his life, he had two failed marriages and started drinking heavily.

Original owner William Krause, who commissioned the building, also died by suicide in the upstairs apartment.

Later, the building was used as a funeral home for over 50 years.

Dennis Rodkin is a real estate reporter for Crain’s Chicago Business and Reset’s “What’s That Building?” contributor.