A petition has been launched to stop the demolition of a building which once housed Chicago nightclub The Warehouse.
Established in 1977, the venue was best known as one of the birthplaces of house music. In its early days, it hosted DJ Frankie Knuckles as its first musical director, who would play a mix of genres like soul, R&B and disco, which marked the beginnings of the house genre.
Split across three storeys at 206 S. Jefferson Street in Chicago’s West Loop area, the club became a hub, specifically for black gay men in Chicago. Knuckles left in 1982 to start his own club the Power Plant, after which Warehouse rebranded as Muzic Box and hired new DJ Ron Hardy.
“House music changed the world. And it all began at the Warehouse, where DJ Frankie Knuckles created house music,” the petition reads. “Before it’s too late, we must urgently recognize, protect and celebrate the three-story industrial building at 206 S. Jefferson Street in Chicago’s West Loop.
“Despite its extraordinary role in music and cultural history, the Warehouse has ZERO protections against alterations or demolition.”
According to the petition, the building was sold in December 2022. “Despite persistent outreach by Preservation Chicago, the new ownership has been unresponsive, and plans for the building’s future remain unknown. There is simply too much at stake to allow the whim of an owner to determine its fate.”
The petition asks authorities at the City of Chicago to take steps to designate the building a Chicago Landmark to give it greater protection going forward.
It adds: “The Warehouse should be protected as a symbol of the rich history of Chicago’s gay and Black communities, the incredible story of house music, and the groundbreaking impact that DJ Frankie Knuckles had on the sound of modern music across the world.”
You can find out more and sign the petition here.