Forgotten Chicagoans: George Strauss and John Jensen

Atop the building at 1427 N. Milwaukee Avenue reads “G. STRAUSS 1887.”

Built in 1887, this Italianate-styled building was built as a storefront with residential units. The storefront was a hardware store for George Strauss. Born in Germany on Nov 12, 1844, Strauss arrived in the United States in 1867. He arrived in Chicago shortly thereafter and settled in Wicker Park, although in a variety of locations.

In 1870, he was at 292 (now 1655 West) North Avenue. By 1874, he became partners with Charles Menzel to run Strauss & Menzel Hardware, moving again to 92 Ridgeville (now Paulina just north of Milwaukee). In four years, he finally arrived on the popular marketplace on Milwaukee Avenue, only a few doors down from here at 1077 Milwaukee (now 1419 N.).

By 1885, the partnership was over and he was on his own, at 1080 Milwaukee (now 1420 N.) until this building – then 1085 Milwaukee – was built two years later, where he stayed through 1904. He married his wife Maria in 1875 and never had children. Despite their partnership ending, he and Menzel remained friends, as he witnessed Strauss becoming a Naturalized citizen in 1914 at age 69. Strauss died five years later.

Adjacent to the building is an identical building at 1429 N. Milwaukee Avenue with “J. JENSEN” across the top. The building was owned by John Jensen, a Norwegian resident who owned a few buildings in the area, but he never occupied the building with any business. It initially held the Meine Brothers Law Firm.

Both buildings are contributing factors to the Milwaukee Avenue District’s historic designation.

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