The U-Haul Chicago Artist Lofts are rich with history and they are just getting started with a new chapter. It began when Alexander Thomson and James Taylor of Thomson & Taylor Spice Co. outgrew their factory space and needed to relocate. They opted for outside the downtown area, on a spot near the south end of the Chicago River, which would one day become the U-Haul Chicago Artist Lofts.
The Thomson & Taylor Spice Company’s new factory and warehouse was completed in 1911 by architects Chatten and Hammond. The seven-story, 350,000 square feet structure was home to the spice business. Thompson & Taylor Spice Co. would import spices for processing and packaging so the spices could be delivered to customers. By the 1950s, Thomson and Taylor needed to downsize, leaving the building open to other warehouse use until artists started moving in around the 1980s.
Today, the U-Haul Artist Lofts continue to be a part of the Chicago Art District. The U-Haul Artist Lofts provide rental space to artists where they can explore their creativity, create artwork, and build a community of artists. Manager Sheena Lee explains, “we call it a small business and artist community. We have painters, photographers, woodworking shops and small business offices utilizing the spaces. Tenants enjoy socializing with their neighbors and collaborating on projects”. The history and architecture of the building lend themselves as inspiration to artists. Architects Chatten and Hammond kept this in mind when they “clad the building in face brick and added geometric terra cotta decorations to create an industrial building”(Acri, Chicago Tribune). Along with the architecture, the beautiful view of the Chicago River and the Chicago skyline provide an additional artistic backdrop to draw inspiration from.
U-Haul Artist Lofts have inspired local artists Dianna Frid, Robb Stone, and Tony Smith. Dianna remembers the changes her space has gone through since she has been renting. She recalls, “When I moved in the walls were painted black and the floor was green”. She made upgrades to her space in order to feel connected to it. Robb explains the building has been “updated with a bright, clean loading dock and new elevators and bathrooms, but it retains it’s old charm in a great way”. Tony enjoys the buildings location, stating “The location is key, working in the South Loop offers me a great meeting place for my photo sessions and or creating art”. Hear more about these artists’ journeys coming up on My U-Haul Story.
If you’re interested in seeing if the U-Haul Chicago Artist Lofts are the space for you, please contact loft manager Sheena Lee at 312.957.4457. Or visit the website, U-Haul Chicago Artist Lofts.
Are you creating artwork related to U-Haul? Let us know in the comments below.