If buildings could talk, the narrow three-story brick structure at 2121 North Clark Street, Chicago, could tell quite a tale: genteel youth, evil middle age, fiery holocaust — and rebirth.
No one seems to know just when the old house was built, but there are distinct traces of Victorian gentility in its brownstone front, its second-story entrance reached by a flight of stone steps and its high ceilinged, narrow-windowed formality.
If the building ever did possess gentility, though, it was abruptly forsaken on February 14, 1929, as the guttural yammering of submachine guns in a garage almost directly across the street brought the notorious “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” to headlines around the world. Rumor even has it that the house at 2121 North Clark served as a lookout post for hoodlum henchmen of the Valentine gunners.
The succeeding years were unkind to the old house, as it passed through a series of ever less savory occupancies. Then, in November 1971, came the ultimate indignity: fire. When the ashes cooled, all that remained was a gutted shell of perhaps early glory.
Today, like the phoenix of myth, 2121 North Clark Street has been reborn. Purchased in April 1972 by Chicago attorney Albert H. Beaver, the old house has undergone a year long process of receiving a facelift.
And what a facelift! When all the bills are in, Beaver will have poured something like $150,000 into the building. Pine paneling as much like the original as possible has replaced timbers deeply charred by last winter’s fire. Under the active craftsmanship of general contractor Charles R. Smital, who specializes in restorations and remodeling of this sort, Beaver’s law office now occupies the space where –according to neighborhood legend – Al Capone’s under-world demons once peered across Clark Street towards a bloody garage.
And on the ground floor has been built what Beaver calls “Chicago’s most exciting restaurant concept in many years”: THE CHICAGO PIZZA AND OVEN GRINDER COMPANY.