Best Old Building

The Dorsa

If Washington Avenue is a family reunion of stately Chicago School-style buildings, then the Dorsa sticks out like a flamboyant great-aunt. The structure originally rose up as a red-brick warehouse in 1902, but in 1946, the Dorsa Clothing Company commissioned architect Meyer Loomstein to give it a bold facelift, most of which is still intact: The bottom two stories are covered with emerald-green tile facade and "DORSA" arranged in vertical brass letters. Inside, the former main sales floor is in a shambles, thanks to the construction of lofts upstairs (all of which are occupied). But traces of the curvy, mode moderne interior remain. The real star of the show is in the rear: A staircase winds down to the lower level, where a tiny stage lies under an undulating wall. Real estate agent Starion "Ronny" Cuka says about 80 percent of this theater-esque area can be restored. The main sales room, however, is actually a plaster shell hung from the original timber ceiling with wire. It would be ungodly expensive and nearly impossible, he says, to preserve that while installing new electricity, sprinklers and HVAC. But the original terrazzo floor tile could survive, Cuka says. All he needs is a tenant willing to take the plunge on 7,500 square feet of history.

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