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Lansing History: That distinctive building on the corner of Ridge and Wentworth

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Haircuts, furniture, music, wedding gowns, and medical supplies have all been sold from 3601 Ridge Road

building
The two-story building at the southeast corner of Ridge Road and Wentworth Avenue has housed a variety of businesses since its construction in 1932, including the current occupant, ABC Medical Supplies. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, April 2024)

LANSING, Ill. (April 23, 2024) – Much of the historical data is missing about 3601 Ridge Road — and we found only one historical photo. Still, what is known about the two-story white brick building at one of the most prominent corners in Lansing bears some historical value.

Realtors have listed the property — on the southeast corner of Ridge Road and Wentworth Avenue — as being built in 1932. One account goes so far as to claim it was owned by Henry Lansing, for whom the village is named, but that seems unlikely. We don’t know the dates of Henry’s birth or death, but we know that his brothers, John and George, were born in 1809 and 1817. We can assume that Henry would have been in the same age bracket, so he would have been over 100 years old in 1932 when the building was built.

There is no documentation of who built the building, who first occupied it, or when the addition was built on the east side. The first floor is designed for business, and two apartments are upstairs. Current occupants said the addition is a separate building with a separate basement.

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There is no documentation about when this addition was added to the east side of the building. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

1930s: Carol’s Barber Shop

The first business document is an announcement in The Northwest Indiana Times dated August 16, 1939, that reads: “Carol’s Barber Shop Now Open at 3601 Ridge Road – Corner Wentworth, Lansing.” The shop was managed by Frank Zila. Men’s and women’s haircuts were 35 cents; children’s were 25 cents.

In September of that same year an ad offering a “Heated apartment, private bath, gas heat” appeared in the Times. Seven months later on April 29, 1941, an ad appeared for “3601 Ridge Road, 3 rooms, garage, $25. Newly decorated, adults.” Could “garage” be referring to the east-side addition?

No further information was found about Zila or the shop. On August 16, 1945, a classified ad in the Times offered a business opportunity: “Barber shop at 3601 Ridge Road, two chairs and equipment – a bargain.”

1940s: Hoeksema’s Furniture

During the 1940s several “For Rent” ads ran in The Times for a three-room upstairs apartment and bath, with heat furnished, adults only, for $30 per month. Inquiry was to be made to F.A. Schwartz at 3601 Ridge Road. This was likely Fred Schwartz. He owned the building and sold it to Peter Hoeksema in August 1945. The Schwartz family planned to move to Phoenix, Arizona, for health reasons. Hoeksema planned to remodel the store to accommodate his furniture business and use the upstairs as living quarters for his family. A building permit was issued to Hoeksema in October 1945 for $2,000 for building improvements.

Though we found no photos of the Hoeksema’s Furniture building, these two photos from the 1940 July 4 Parade provide evidence of the shop’s involvement in the community. The parade journeyed from Munster, Indiana, through Lansing. The album of parade photos can be viewed by clicking the image. (Photos provided by Les Meeter to the Lansing Historical Society)

1950s: Stainless Steel Distributors

On July 10, 1951, Stainless Steel Distributors submitted a “Help Wanted” ad to the Times seeking a specialized salesman. By December 1951 Joseph Sulewski and his wife Joanna, owners and operators of Stainless Steel Distributors, were advertising a wide variety of franchised products, from Flavor-Seal waterless cookware to a complete line of International Harvester refrigerators and freezers.

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A rare photo of the building at 3601 Ridge Road shows what it looked like during the 1950s, when Stainless Steel Distributors was housed there. (Photo courtesy of the Lansing Historical Society)

The store was recognized locally as going from the smallest store in Lansing to one of the leading kitchen specialists and appliance dealers in the Calumet Region. Sulewski was given national recognition in 1956 when he introduced an RCA Victor Color Television to the Calumet area. “Color shows on TV every night, over 40 hours a week.” Prices began at $495.

The Sulewskis were distributors for name brand kitchen cabinets, Chambers built-in ranges, Elkay’s stainless steel sinks, and Vent-a-Hood. They also sold outboard motors, air conditioners, a line of radios and phonographs, and even kids’ train sets.

A huge “Going Out of Business” sale in April 1958 marked the end of Stainless Steel Distributors at that location. The Sulewskis later moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Joseph died in 1974 and Joanna in 2004.

1960s and 70s: Hal Morris Music Mart

In 1960 Hal Morris, filled the space with music and called it Hal Morris Music Mart. If it had anything to do with music, you could find it in Hal’s shop. He sold musical instruments of every kind, from pianos and organs to phonographs and sheet music. He had the only complete drum shop in the Calumet Region and a full inventory of band instruments. He could provide instructions for playing any one of them.

Dubbed “The Music Man,” Morris was an acoustic guitar player and played in many bands in addition to his own bands, Hal’s Ripples of Rhythm and the Hal Morris Trio. He was a booking agent for many celebrity performers, including the Everly Brothers, Rodney Dangerfield, Johnny Cash, and White Sox organist Nancy Faust through the Hal Morris Entertainment Agency.

In July 1961, Morris produced a Showboat Revue sponsored by the Lansing Knights of Columbus Youth Foundation, featuring entertainers Bob Hope, Arthur Godfrey, and Jori Jordan, who had appeared with Don McNeil. The show also included pantomime artist George Carl, who had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. The stage was installed over the lake to make the show more realistic.

In a NWI Times interview in 2000, when Hal Morris was 73 years old, he recalled, “I’ve worked every music-related job imaginable. I’ve been a professional musician since I was 13, started booking by the time I was 16, and opened my own music store before my 20th birthday. I even owned a recording studio for a short time.” In April of 1989 he advertised his business as Hal Morris Music and Appliances and offered washers, dryers, ranges, refrigerators, sweepers, air-conditioners, and dehumidifiers. He also owned the Hal Morris Piano and Organ Company in Highland, Indiana, for 53 years and established his own record label, Kandy Records.

1980s and 90s: Char’s Bridal House

Char’s Bridal House was once located at 2451 Ridge Road, which is today the site of the Change of Pace Styling Center. On March 3, 1980, Char’s announced a one-day moving sale. By May 25, 1980, they were holding a grand opening at their new location, 3601 Ridge Road. Owner Charleen Knight chose as a motto for her shop: “The Bridal House with that personal touch so often overlooked.”

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Char’s Bridal House was once located at 2451 Ridge Road, which is today the site of the Change of Pace Styling Center. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, April 2024)

Charleen took full advantage of the shop’s new corner location, using the full-length windows to display beautiful bride’s dresses, bridesmaid accompaniments, and colorful prom gowns. Char’s featured many elaborate bridal and fashion shows highlighting new trends.

The Lansing Historical Society hosted one such show on January 28, 1982. The library meeting room was transformed into an outdoor garden setting for “Wedding Fashions Then and Now.” Char was the narrator, and Marilyn Ronca gave the history of the wedding gown. Carol Adducci explained how to care and clean the gowns. Jackie Protsman of Fashionette was host of the program.

Char’s also went under other names: Char’s Bridal Studio in 1988, Char’s Bridal Salon in 1990, and Char’s The Wedding Shoppe in 1993.

2006–2009: Dancin’ Around Dance Studio

Dancin’ Around Dance Studio was established in 2001 but opened at 3601 Ridge Road on February 28, 2006. Before moving to 3601, they operated from 3334 Ridge Road and prior to that at 17829 Torrence Avenue. They moved to Munster, Indiana, when ABC Medical Supplies took over the space in December 2009. Dancin’ Around also has a studio in Blue Island.

Owner Vi Donald, who was born in Thailand and came to the U.S. when she was 7, has been dancing since age 3. She taught the Junior Luvabulls in Chicago and at Andrew High School in Tinley Park. In 1995 she performed with Diana Ross at the World Cup Soccer Event.

Vi’s philosophy has been to teach the basic fundamentals of dance and to impart in students an appreciation for the arts in an enjoyable atmosphere. She specializes in dance techniques such as tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, pom poms, and tumbling.

2009–present: ABC Medical Supplies Inc/The Woman’s Boutique

Established in 2001, ABC Medical Services Inc. obtained its business license and took over the corner store on December 17, 2009. The business offers more than the usual medical supply and equipment. Housed within the ABC business is The Woman’s Boutique, providing post breast surgery needs as well as large cup bras for nonsurgical needs.

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The distinctive brick building at Ridge and Wentworth was built in 1932 and still stands today. It currently houses ABC Medical Supplies, although that may change in 2024. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, April 2024)

Debra Parra, a registered nurse, is the CEO and has CFM (Certified Fitter Mastectomy) training. Her desire is to help transform the lives of women dealing with the trauma of breast cancer. Parra said prior to opening, “There was no local place to go for mastectomy products and other equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, commodes, beds, lift chairs, and diabetic shoes.” The Woman’s Boutique in Lansing has claimed to be the largest boutique in the Midwest.

Coming in 2024: Jeremi College

Things will soon be changing on that corner once again. The building was sold on March 12, 2024, to Jeremi College for $385,000.

According to Sandra Dafiaghor, president and CEO of the college, plans are to relocate their Olympia Fields campus to the 3601 building in Lansing within a few months. The college is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education. Courses include Clinical Medical Assistant Technologist, Phlebotomy Technician, Medical Administrative Assistant, and Computer Support Specialist, among others. Jeremi Holdings LLC, is the entity that holds the real estate, and an Indiana campus is located on 45th Street in Munster.

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Marlene Cook
Marlene Cook
Marlene Cook is a Lansing resident who loves learning and writing about local history. A member of the Illinois Women's Press Association since 1973, she has won multiple IWPA awards. Her 2020 awards in the Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest included first place for columns and second place for nonfiction book in the history category.