It’s a small item, perhaps even trivial, but we lovers of baseball, and of Wrigley Field, tend to put great stock in such things. Add some rose-filtered nostalgia inherent in late middle age, and you have a recipe for eccentric sentiment.
The rooftop turret at 3701 N. Kenmore, a neighborhood and later a ballpark landmark for over a century and a quarter, came down sometime before last December 28, likely not to be replaced. For those of us who remember the “historic sweep” of the pre-renovation Wrigley bleachers, this will be a notable loss.
3701 is the oldest of the structures that make up the classic outfield facades of Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. It was built in 1890, one year after the village of Lake View was annexed into Chicago. It predates the seminary campus that predated Wrigley.
Always the most prominent and distinctive building fronting the bleachers, it served as an advertising magnet for many decades, and was the original “rooftop” seating, many years ahead of its time.
3701 had two outstanding features that attracted immediate attention, a viewing alcove, added sometime in the early 1930s, (absent in photos of the 1929 Series, present by the regular season of 1932), and the turret, which provided a unique profile. From the late 1930s, painted advertisements, many including the turret in creative ways, added to its prominence. Famously, the Ricketts Restaurant (Clark just south of Diversey), maintained the prime ad space for over two decades.
By the mid-’60s, WGN had taken over the roof ads. This is the Wrigley Field I first saw. When I was nine, I was allowed to go to the ballpark on my own (my parents, and most of my friends’ parents, would be arrested today), and that rooftop became one my indelible impressions. This photo is from 1966:
In later years, Budweiser and many others held the space, and as the bleachers expanded, and the built-in park signage overwhelmed the street views, the building’s profile became far less visible.
During early 2009, the alcove was removed, and now the turret is gone, too.
Perhaps, after 128 years, it became structurally unsound, or failed to pass an inspection. Whatever the reason, 3701 is now just another roof, no longer one of Wrigley’s defining local features. It used to be a big shot.
Many thanks for all attention.