The Building Behind the Business
During its thirty-year history, Street Level Studio has resided in several locations, but none can compare to the present place we’ve called home for the last 17 years. The name, Street Level Studio, was born from a philosophy of being down-to-earth and working hard to help clients achieve their goals. Our location for many years was well above ground in multi-story office buildings, but when we spotted this poor, run-down little storefront building in Highwood, IL, everything changed. Not only did it have the potential to be a cool office space, but it was truly at street level.
We bought the building and did a massive rehab to create a space we could all be proud of. We didn’t know the rich history we were about to discover. As construction progressed, local residents began showing up to see what was going on. The building had been abandoned for nine years or so, and most people thought it would just be torn down one day. Highwood is a town of friendly, longtime residents, and they were more than willing to share stories of the various businesses that had occupied the building. Here’s a little of what we learned.
The building was originally built as a Tucker Automobile dealership, but very few people today may even remember the story of Tucker. Perhaps some recall the 1988 Jeff Bridges movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream, that told the tale of this beautiful, technically advanced automobile that failed miserably in the consumer market. Our building held one of the few cars that actually made it off the production line. Those first prototypes are extremely rare today, but many older people in town vividly remember the buzz it made in this little working class community.
After the Tucker dream failed, the building became home to an auto garage. The two service door openings are still here, as is a hand-painted wall sign for Gateway Auto Service. The space doubled in size after the repair shop closed, so the two large doorways are literally in the middle of the building today.
A pill-dispensing business took over and evidently needed more space. This wasn’t a pharmacy, but rather a store that sold home remedies, including many potions and pills that were certainly not government-approved by today’s standards.
The last business in the building before we bought it was a popular regional liquor store. We’re not sure why they moved, but the store is still in business at another location in town. Perhaps it had something to do with the police station right next door.
One thing we can say for sure is that 250 Waukegan Road, Highwood, IL, has become an inspirational home for Street Level Studio and an interesting meeting place for our clients.