Lincoln Square Krause Music Store owners seek buyer to preserve historic Sullivan building

LINCOLN SQUARE – The owners of an almost 100-year-old building on Lincoln Square are hoping to find a buyer after more than two years in the market.

The Krause Music Store building, 4611 N. Lincoln Ave., has been a retail storefront, funeral home, boutique, and marketing company since its construction in 1922. It may be the last building in Chicago designed by famous architect Louis Sullivan.

Owners Peter and Pooja Vukosavich bought the building in 2005 and renovated it for two years before opening Studio V Design there. They closed the business in July 2019 and have tried to sell the building ever since. They recently started selling trinkets, housewares and office supplies outside the storefront, leading some neighbors to believe they had opened a pop-up store.

Their search for a buyer ran into a problem during the pandemic, but the couple are optimistic they can find someone to buy the property, preserve its history, and become its guardian for decades to come.

“We had two gentlemen who came to see the building last week. I think the way the real estate market is recovering and the interest in our building is also increasing, ”said Peter Vukosavich.

Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
The Krause Music Store at 4611 N. Lincoln Ave. is a historical monument and built in 1922. It was designed by architect William C. Presto with a facade designed by Louis Sullivan.

The origins of the building begin with William P. Krause, a businessman who sold pianos and phonographs. Krause commissioned architect William C. Presto to design a small building in Lincoln Square that would serve as his store and home, according to “The Complete Architecture of Adler & Sullivan.”

Presto was a draftsman under Sullivan during the design and construction of the Farmers and Merchants Union Bank “jewelry box” in Columbus, Wisconsin. After the bank was over, Sullivan’s company didn’t have a lot of work for Presto, so he went on his own. One of his first commissions was the three-story building for Krause.

By 1920, Sullivan had been without substantial work for some time, had lost his office on the 16th floor of the Auditorium Building in the South Loop, and was reduced to living in a bedroom with the support of friends.

Credit: Provided.
The Krause Music Store building at 4611 N. Lincoln Ave. as it was in 1922.

“Sullivan really ran into bad luck at the end of his career. He was an alcoholic and surfed on his couch, ”said Peter Vukosavich.

When Presto was designing the facade of the Lincoln Avenue building, he contacted his former boss to see if he wanted to take on the project. Presto worried that Sullivan might not want to work on something so small, but Sullivan accepted the job.

In 1922, Sullivan completed the design of a terracotta facade adorned with an ornamental “K” for Krause that still stands out along the Lincoln Avenue commercial corridor. He oversaw the creation of the blocks at American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Company in the suburb of Crystal Lake, then their installation on the facade of the building.

“Sullivan’s contribution is limited to the facade of the Krause music store. But this was Louis Sullivan’s last major commission, and it uses the magnificent ‘jewelry box’ design similar to the jewelry box banks he designed that are scattered throughout the Midwest, ”said Ward Miller, Executive Director of Preservation Chicago.

Some of the unused clay blocks were thrown into the yard of the property by the workers; We do not know why. The crews completed construction of the building at a cost of $ 22,000.

After Krause moved in, he ran the first retail store on this stretch of Lincoln Avenue and lived and worked in the building until 1929 when he committed suicide in his apartment.

For the next 60 years, the building operated as a funeral home. Later, it was a shop named Museum of Decorative Arts, according to WTTW. When Pooja and Peter Vukosavich bought it, they found the old terra cotta blocks that Sullivan workers had left in the yard over 80 years earlier.

“We dug them up and now we have them in our office as a little piece of history,” said Peter Vukosavich. “They’re going to stay with the building because I really think they’re still part of the building and should belong to the next owner.”

The property has been a city landmark since 1977 because of its facade “representative of Sullivan’s masterful use of ornament” and “meticulous attention” to decorative elements.

Now the first floor is filled with an eclectic array of items for sale, like a hand-carved Indonesian mirror frame, office cabinets, a vintage optometrist exam case, and door knobs from colorful antique cabinet, among others. Many are items the couple collected over 30 years of traveling.

“A friend of mine called the other day and asked if we had opened a new pop-up store there. The ‘showcase’ is actually where our conference room was located, and it’s the perfect place to put everything we sell, ”said Peter Vukosavich. “But if you go through that, it kind of looks like an import from Pier One or something, honestly.”

The building is for sale for $ 2.25 million. For more information on the building and the items sold, click here.

Credit: Provided.
This Bali Carved Prison Door Mirror Frame is just one of the many items Peter and Pooja Vukosavich have for sale.

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Alice P. Darby