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Chicago, Illinois

North Avenue Baths Facade

Former bath house turns gastropub. 

It seems hard to believe that Wicker Park once supported two European-style bathhouses, but it did.

Built in 1922, the North Avenue Baths, with intricate aquatic-themed terra-cotta detailing, boasts a much prettier facade than the surviving Division Street Bathhouse.Yet, by the early 1990s, it was a boarded up ruin, a sad sight from the Blue Line El train.

Clever entrepreneurs saw potential in its wrecked shell, and successfully rehabilitated it in the late 1990s.  A prestigious fine-dining establishment, Spring, the first from acclaimed chef Sean McLain, made good use of the ground level while the upper floors were turned into apartments.

Although the once-trendy Spring has closed, it’s been replaced by an equally hot “gastro-pub”, the Trenchermen.