We went yesterday to check out some possible industrial space for lease by Chicago Comb. The building is an almost century-old, several story high, brick industrial building on the Kedzie corridor in East Garfield Park -- a neighborhood that has seen its share of struggles over the years, even though it's only a few miles west of downtown. The building has very high ceilings, wooden floors, and an incredible old elevator. We fell in love with it immediately.
The building looks fairly non-descript, but inside there's a hive of activity by artists and artisans. Creating things, and generating ideas. There's something about art which always has the feeling of being cutting edge and fresh, even when it's in an old industrial building in a rundown part of the city. In a way, art is perhaps the most innovative thing being created by people, and it's certainly something we feel spiritually close to here at Chicago Comb.
There's also a backstory to the building which we later found online. Far from being just an old industrial building, it was actually once the main factory for a company called Simpson Optical. What's Simpson Optical? As we learned, Simpson Optical was a manufacturer of precision lenses and lighting devices. During World War II, they manufactured lenses for a top-secret device called the Norden bombsight, one of the most important weapons of the war. There was a notorious German saboteur who managed to get a job there, named Haupt. He was eventually captured; the case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
We'll find out soon whether the space is definitely available for us. We're very excited to be able to do the finishing touches on Chicago Combs in the same building that gave rise to some incredible history.
John is the co-founder and President of Chicago Comb