The Warehouse

The Warehouse, birthplace of ‘House' music, designated a Chicago Landmark

The site is where famed DJ and producer Frankie Knuckles is widely credited with creating the House music genre.

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The Chicago City Council has given landmark status to an industrial building in the city's West Loop that once housed the Warehouse nightclub and is credited as the birthplace of 'House' music.

The building, located at 206 S. Jefferson St., is where famed DJ and Producer Frankie Knuckles is widely credited with creating the genre, which is a type 'of dance music characterized by a driving beat, emotive lyrics and lush orchestration,” according to a press release from the Chicago City Council.

According to the city, the Warehouse was also a ‘beloved space for Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community,’ and was worthy of the recognition.

“Chicago’s landmarks illustrate the story of our history and culture, (and) I’m proud that the City Council approved landmark designation for The Warehouse, a space regarded as the birthplace of house music and a safe haven for Chicago’s LGBTQ+ communities,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a statement.

Preservation Chicago started a petition earlier this year pushing for preservation, with tens of thousands of signatures.

“I’m grateful that we are able to give this building the historical designation it deserves,” Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said in a statement. “For decades, The Warehouse represented a safe and inclusive space for Chicago’s Black, Latinx and queer communities to celebrate.”

Joe Shanahan, the founder of several well-known clubs in Chicago including Smart Bar and Metro, believes he was among the first to sign the petition.

"It should be a museum or a school or some kind of arts incubator," said Shanahan.

Shanahan opened Smart Bar in 1982. Frankie Knuckles was the first DJ to perform there.

"A lot of people call him the 'Godfather of House.' I’ve always considered him the 'architect of House.' He’s the one that built the foundation of what became a global phenomenon," Shanahan said.

Among his many awards and accolades, Knuckles won a 1997 Grammy for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical. He passed away in 2014.

The Warehouse, believed to be the birthplace of modern House music and where Knuckles first started experimenting with mixing disco and European electronic tracks, is also where the House music genre got its name.

"This is a global music message that was established, birthed and built here in Chicago," said Shanahan. "We can’t let these buildings be taken down and have another restaurant or hotel, another 10-story building built."

"Let the people speak, let us be known this is an important aspect of our cultural history and this should be saved," he said.

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