Storefront living in a former model airplane factory in Irving Park | Space | Chicago Reader

Storefront living in a former model airplane factory in Irving Park 

Rosalie Schultz has lived in the same building for 62 years, since she was five years old.

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Rosalie Schultz

Rosalie Schultz

Andrea Bauer

Rosalie Schultz was just two years old when she began helping out with her family's business, which printed and mailed industrial parts and price catalogs. Onlookers were awed as the collating wunderkind stuffed envelopes in a flash. The home business was a hike from Irving Park's post office, so her father would hire neighborhood boys to haul mail in Radio Flyer wagons. When a large storefront in the ideal location—right next to the post office—was listed for sale, Schultz's father jumped at the chance to make it the base for both his business and his family. Schultz was five years old in 1952 when they moved in—and she's lived there ever since.

The place was previously occupied by a model airplane factory and a candy/cigarette store, and Schultz, 66, still preserves remnants of the building's past: a ghost sign on the front window advertises Dutch Masters Cigars, and her bathrooms are still labeled men and women from the factory days. Only recently did she paint over workers' graffiti that included for a good time, call hal. ("I became certain that Hal was likely unreachable at that or any other number," she says.) Schultz briefly rented out sections of her home to a hair salon (some mirrors and mannequins remain) and to a young printer whose business quickly folded, leaving only the lettering of the company's name on a window.

Back in '52, Schultz's father hired a carpenter to craft privacy screens to cover the front display windows. "They were beautifully knotted wood panels," she says. "But we had a tremendous amount of vandalism." She suspected the paneling made the building look boarded up and abandoned. So she removed the screens and started creating elaborate displays in the sidewalk-facing windows with plants, dollhouses, lights, and seasonal ornaments. Her Halloween arrangement, on view now, includes everything from witches on broomsticks to skeletons dancing amid pumpkin lights to a doll being attacked by a giant spider.

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