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Libertyville's Historic Milwaukee Avenue
Item 10 of 40
Although appearing to be a single edifice, the Queen Anne style commercial block at 535-541 N. Milwaukee Avenue is actually two buildings. Today (2020), Charles & Minerva and Touche Salon occupy the Warren M. Heath building while Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory occupies the William Walrond Building. Heath, a furniture maker and undertaker, and Walrond, a proprietor of a meat and grocery market, constructed these commercial buildings in 1903, providing additional space for growing, established Libertyville businesses. A bowling alley and billiards room, a department store, a pharmacy, a shoe store, a gift store, and an art gallery are some of the businesses to fill the storefronts over the years.

535-541 N. Milwaukee Avenue, circa 2006

535-541 N. Milwaukee Avenue, circa 2006

Market Day, circa 1908. Looking south on Milwaukee Avenue. On right, note street-level access to the basement of the Warren Heath building

Market Day, circa 1908. Looking south on Milwaukee Avenue. On right, note street-level access to the basement of the Warren Heath building

Looking north on Milwaukee Avenue, 1923

Looking north on Milwaukee Avenue, 1923

Flegelman's Department Store, 1955

Flegelman's Department Store, 1955

JAMBS and Smith Shoes, circa 1974-1976

JAMBS and Smith Shoes, circa 1974-1976

Warren M. Heath Building

Warren M. Heath (1863-1924) succeeded his father, Isaac Heath (1832-1898), as the owner of a furniture store and undertaker’s business established in Libertyville about 1880. Early furniture makers were often undertakers because building caskets was a natural extension of their business. Referred to as a “Napoleon of commerce” by the local paper, in 1903 Heath erected the largest store building in Libertyville at the time. The Queen Anne-style commercial block cost $9000 (a bit over $263,000 in 2020 dollars) and featured a pressed brick front, metal second-story polygonal bays, a corbelled brick cornice, and stone string courses. The store occupied the south part of the building and the north section was home to the post office. Heath served as postmaster from 1897 until 1908.

O.I. Luce (1847-1924), R.C. Higgins (1858-1926) and G.T. Luce (d.1945) purchased the Heath business and building in 1907. The furniture store operated as O.I. Luce & Co. on the south end with a harness shop on the north. In 1908, a bowling alley, billiard room, and barbershop with public baths opened in the basement of the building which at that time had direct access from the street. Brunswick-Balke Collender Co. pool and billiard tables, porcelain tubs, and a stock of cigars, tobaccos, and soft drinks attracted customers. John Lester, future owner of a notions store and Lester’s Tavern, managed the basement businesses. Local harness maker J.W. Cole purchased the bowling alley, billiard hall, baths and the Luce harness shop in 1914.

In 1923, Ray Furniture and Paints (also undertaking) bought out the Luce store expanding their business established in the 400 block of Milwaukee Avenue in 1911. The Ray store moved to the Luce location shortly thereafter and purchased the building three years later. The bowling alley and billiards room still operated in the lower level at that time.

Professional offices, such as those of optometrist Dr. W.W. Diederich, physician Dr. F.H. Martin, and attorney Lyell Morris, used the third floor of the building for the first twenty years. When Ray leased part of the building in 1933 to James Flegelman (1897-1976), a Russian, Jewish immigrant and owner of a dry goods store across the street, the new Flegelman’s Department Store commandeered the basement to provide two floors of shopping. Ray continued the undertaking business in the south end of the building and his furniture business on the second floor. The undertaking business later moved to 120 W. Park Avenue (now Burnett-Dane Funeral Home). The furniture business continued on Milwaukee Avenue until the mid-1940s when Ray retired from the retail business. Flegelman’s then claimed the third floor to become the Libertyville store with the most floor space.

Jim and Ruth Flegelman retired in 1956 and closed the store. Taylor and Seiler Paint and Hobby moved in and utilized the building through the early 1960s. Sayner Floor Covering occupied the basement level during this time. At one point Langworthy’s expanded northward into the building. Over the next 40 years, businesses such as The Music Box, JAMBS Discount Pharmacy and Abby Ames Attic called the Heath building home. Current residents, Touche Salon and Charles & Minerva arrived in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

William Walrond Building

William Walrond (1871-1965) established a meat market in Libertyville in 1893. He constructed the two-story plus basement building at 541 N. Milwaukee Avenue in 1903. When the new grocery store opened it featured “fine woodwork [and] the facilities for carrying on businesses such as modern computing scales, a giant refrigerator, etc…”(Lake County Independent Souvenir Edition, September 25, 1903).

Walrond’s business continued to grow. A rear addition was constructed in 1906 to expand the store’s ice house and refrigeration capabilities. In 1911, Walrond acquired an electric coffee mill and an electric meat grinder. Another rear addition, completed sometime before 1912, added more storage. Galiger Heating Co. operated out of this last addition in the 1950s. Curtis Frame Back Alley Gallery currently occupies the space.

Walrond closed the shop sometime after 1936. Smith Shoes, established by Ray N. Smith (1893-1962) in 1917, remodeled the building and moved from across the street in August 1940. After Smith’s retirement in 1961, his sons, Allen and Gerald, ran the business. Allen passed in 1987. Gerald “Jerry” Smith retired in 1995 ending a forty-five year run for the family-owned business which served multiple generations of Libertyville residents.

When Millennium Art Gallery owner Laurie Towner remodeled the Smith Shoes store for use as an art gallery and school in 1995, she found relics of the Walrond store behind the walls. Workers uncovered a brass latch while demolishing the back wall. Further removal of the wall revealed a wall of oak ice boxes with beveled glass that had been painted over. The ice boxes were removed and bathrooms now occupy that space. Millennium Art Gallery provided display space for local artists as well as art classes for all ages until it closed in 2001. The current occupant, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, opened in 2002.

Isaac Heath. Libertyville Businessmen circa 1882. Cook Memorial Public Library Local History File – Businesses.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. 1897, 1907, 1912, 1924, 1933, 1948. Library of Congress. Accessed July 29, 2020.

“Business Review: W. Walrond.” Lake County Independent, June 26, 1896, p.1.

“Rapid Growth.” Lake County Independent, Special Souvenir Edition, September 25, 1903, p.1

“W.M. Walrond.” Lake County Independent, Special Souvenir Edition, September 25, 1903, p.4

“Wm. Walrond this week moved…” Lake County Independent, November 28, 1902, p.5.

“Warren M. Heath.” Lake County Independent, Special Souvenir Edition, September 25, 1903, p.6

“Dr. W.W Diedrich…” Lake County Independent, August 24, 1906, p.5.

“Will Walrond is building an addition…” Lake County Independent, November 9, 1896, p.10.

“The sale of the Heath furniture store…” Lake County Independent, November 29, 1907, p5.

“Market Day.” Postcard.  Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society.

“Bowling Alleys to Open Soon.” Lake County Independent, July 31, 1908, p5.

“John Lester…” Lake County Independent, October 1, p.5.

“William Walrond Wednesday purchased…” Lake County Independent, July 28, 1911, p.5.

“Purchases the O.I. Luce Harness Shop.” Lake County Independent, May 22, 1914, p.5.

“Looking north on Milwaukee Avenue from Cook Avenue.” Photograph. Illinois Digital Archive, Accessed July 29, 2020.

“Announcement.” Libertyville Independent, April 19, 1923, p.4.

“Paul Ray Buys Furniture Store Bldg.” Libertyville Independent, March 25, 1926, p.1.

“New funeral home.” Independent Register, September 9, 1937, p.1.

“Store celebrates 23rd anniversary.” Independent Register, January 11, 1934, p.1.

“’Captain’ Paul Ray marks 30th year as merchant.” Independent Register, January 23, 1941, p.1.

‘”Ray Funeral Home Will Be Opened Sunday.” Independent Register, September 9, 1937, p.1.

“Paul G. Ray firm to celebrate 20th anniversary with open house.” Independent Register, January 22, 1931, p.1

“Libertyville will have a new department store.” Independent Register, June 29, 1933, p.1.

“Flegelman’s Store has 9th anniversary Sat.” Independent Register, May 16, 1940, p10.

“Flegelman’s observe 19th anniversary.” Independent Register, June 8, 1950, p1.

Flegelman, James M. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed July 22, 2020.

“Flegelman.” Obituary. The Miami News, July 17, 1976, p.3. Accessed July 22, 2020.

“Ray N. Smith, in new store, is successful retailer.” Independent Register, April 17, 1941, p1.

“Ray N. Smith.” Obituary. Chicago Tribune, March 17, 1962, p29. Accessed July 22, 2020.

Galiger Heating Company. Photograph. Illinois Digital Archive, Accessed July 29, 2020.

“New faces, remodeling brighten our business scene.” Independent Register, March 27, 1969, p16.

“More new faces in Libertyville.” Independent Register, December 14, 1972.

541 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Assessment Record, circa 1935. Illinois Digital Archive, Accessed July 29, 2020.

531 N. Milwaukee Avenue – Paul Ray. Assessment Record, circa 1935. Illinois Digital Archive, Accessed July 29, 2020.

Kollman, Robin Smith. “Gallery owner uncovers store from town history.” Daily Herald, August 31, 1995, Neighbor Section, p.1.

Kollman, Robin Smith. “Art school debuts in Libertyville.” Daily Herald, July 2, 1998, Neighbor Section, p2.

Kollman, Robin Smith. “Art Gallery, craft store saying goodbye to downtown.” Daily Herald, August 2, 2001, Neighbor Section, p.1.

Roszkowski, John. “Downtown feels loss of stores.” Libertyville Review, August 16, 2001, p.7.

Conrad, David. “Touche Salon one of fastest growing in U.S.” Libertyville Review, February 5, 2009, News Section.

Roszkowski, John. “Downtown draws new business.” Libertyville Review, May 30, 2002, p.7.

Roszkowski, John. “Downtown stores sweeten up.” Libertyville Review, September 26, 2002, p.7.

MilwaukeeAveN533-541. Accessed July 29, 2020.

Carroll, C.E. “The Post Office.” Historical Essays of Libertyville. Unpublished manuscript. Accessed August 3, 2020. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

“Ray N.Smith, Businessman, Dies at Age 68.” Independent Register, March 22, 1962, p.9.

“Smith.” Waukegan News-Sun, April 12, 1996, p.C4.

“Libertyville Native Dies in California.” Independent Register, November 8, 1945, p.1.

Libertyville telephone books, 1913-2004. Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society collection.

"Jim and Ruth Plan Long Rest." Independent Register, July 5, 1956.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Village of Libertyville.

Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society.

Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. Photo Book 2.

Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. Cizek Collection.

Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. Liibertyville Township Asssessor collection.