WIN: Long-Vacant Fullerton State Bank Converted to Condos

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Fullerton State Bank, 1425 W. Fullerton Avenue, Karl Vitzthum, 1923, Designated a Chicago Landmark in 2008 as part of the Neighborhood Bank Building Landmark District. Photo Credit: RD Precision

“The first condos are for sale in a long-vacant pillared building on Fullerton Avenue building that began life in the 1920s as a bank and later housed a company that made clothes for burying the dead.

“For just under $2 million, a buyer will get a five-bedroom, 4,475-square-foot condo where on the main floor is a row of tall arched windows facing west, and on the lower floor there’s a hefty, steel-framed bank vault door repurposed as the entry to a wine room.

“That condo and a three-bedroom, 1,700-square-footer priced at just under $1 million came on the market Jan. 27. They’re the first of a planned eight units in a Classical Revival building familiar to people who traverse Fullerton for the word “Perfection” carved over the front door.

“RD Precision launched the empty building’s rehab in early 2019. a little over two years after buying it for $3 million from a developer whose 2014 plan to redevelop it failed. The purchase included pieces of empty land immediately east of the building, where RD put up an addition, and south, where RD built garages.

“Completed in 1923 as Fullerton State Bank, it was designed by Karl Vitzthum, the architect of at least 50 Midwestern bank buildings, according to the city’s landmarks department. Vitzthum also designed tall buildings in the Loop, including the Old Republic on Michigan Avenue and the Art Deco skyscraper One North La Salle.

“After the bank closed during the Great Depression, Perfection Burial Garments, moved in and put its name above the door. During the Depression, when burying a family member in useful clothes seemed wasteful, entrepreneur Harry Eckhardt launched Perfection to make inexpensive clothing that could be draped over a corpse and buried with it, according to a memoir by Eckhardt’s daughter Agnes Nixon. Nixon worked for her father in the building and went on to create the soap operas ‘One Life to Live’ and ‘All My Children.’

“In later decades of the 20th century, the building went through various uses. It has been vacant since at least 2013.”

Preservation Chicago suggested the Fullerton State Bank be added to the Neighborhoods Banks Historic Landmark District. This designation prevented its demolition during its long period of vacancy and facilitated its current preservation-oriented adaptive reuse.

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

In this new Lincoln Park condo, the wine room is an old bank vault; The five-bedroom unit, priced at just under $2 million, is in a Fullerton Avenue building that’s been vacant since at least 2013, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 1/29/21

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