Forgotten Merchants: Common Sense Novelty Company

Carved in stone over the doors at 2435 N. Sheffield Avenue in Lakeview is a sign for the Common Sense Novelty Company.

The Common Sense Novelty Company was founded in 1903. Originally at 215 S. Clinton Street, they built this factory in 1909, as the sign states. Their main entrance at the time was around the corner on Montana Street.  Contemporary articles refer to it as a toy company, but adverts reveal them as actually a sign company, selling "advertising novelties," including "Fancy Embossed Panels; Shape Cut Hangers, Celluloid, Aluminum and Cardboard Novelties for the general trade." Records indicate the company left in the mid-1920s; they were allegedly still in business somewhere in the 1950s.

Perhaps more historically notable is the building's history after the company left. In 1985, the building became, according to the Chicago Tribune, the city's "first conversion from an industrial loft building to residential condos". Appropriately, the condos were named the Common Sense Lofts.

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