IN THE 1920's, the building opened as the Luxor Russian Baths. It was a respite, the social center for a community of hard-working immigrants that lacked the luxuries of the wealthy. A place where vodka was at hand and a bowl of borscht and a cold beer was a staple. We drew on these early stories heavily when developing Trenchermen.
Back then the Bloomingdale Trail was the city's central transit system, feeding commuters from the west side to downtown. A station was just blocks away. Through the middle of the century, the place remained a spot to steam and bathe and grab a drink and have a bite and sit back to chew the fat, big & small. Politicians, athletes, influencers and kingpins took to its walls to steer free of the public's eye.
Like any good story, this one has its hard times, too. It became a transient hotel. For another stretch, a brothel. In the 90's, its windows were boarded and the city of Chicago pushed in the courts to demolish the thing.
But the building was given a new life when purchased and converted into apartments on its upper floors and restaurant space beneath. Shawn McClain went on to open Spring in the space, further entrenching the building's communal story within the rich and diverse history of Chicago.
The building is also classified with the second highest rating on the Chicago Historic Resources Survey.
WE OPENED TRENCHERMEN in July of 2012. Though the baths have long since stopped steaming, you'll find their white tile and pieces of the building's past within our space. But most important to us, we've kept that spirit of a social center for the surrounding neighborhood alive. It's what Trenchermen is all about.