Thanks to all of you who emailed me with details about various loft developments across the city. Homebuyers at The Lofts at The Vic, at Belmont and Sheffield avenues, will probably be interested to know that their building was home to the Rationing Board during World War II, and later to a den of thieves.
One reader sent me some clips from the Chicago Tribune about the goings-on in the grand old building. The building was built around 1928 as The Belmont-Sheffield Trust and Savings Bank. The bank took up the first two floors of the building and the rest of the structure was rented out as office space, with the top three floors set aside as the Montfield Hotel.
“As for the [bank] vault, like all others, it has been designed with the idea in mind of making the task of any burglar wishing to see the inside as difficult as possible,” the story reads. “The door will be of steel, 16 inches thick, which should be a hazard somewhat more severe than a mental one.”
We’ve heard that the bank never opened because the Great Depression hit Chicago shortly afterward, but it’s not clear from these stories whether that is the case. Does anyone know if it ever actually opened? Wikipedia says it was open for about four years.
Either way, the bank was closed around 1932 in the devastating fallout from the Depression, and it lay dormant for a decade until the Rationing Board took over the building in 1942, serving food, coffee, tires and sugar to 2,000 people a day, according to the newspaper article.
Other interesting tales: The building was home to a telephone answering machine service which used to be pestered continuously by prank callers because it was listed first in the telephone book.
The Trib also had a story about a police raid on a gang at the Montfield Hotel, where occupants of the room were arrested for possession of marijuana, and a string of purse snatchings and strong-arm robberies.
Keep sending in your loft histories, especially if you have newspaper stories to back them up.