Window art reflects the past, hints at future of working in Libertyville

Enlarged historical photos depicting various types of work through the years were installed Monday as window art in a vacant storefront in downtown Libertyville.

While aesthetically interesting, the display also gives insight as to how people in town worked over the years, while hinting at the modern workspace planned for the prominent spot at 416 N. Milwaukee Ave.

From a horse-drawn wagon filled with sides of meat for delivery to the old-time dry goods store or village print shop, the 10 chosen images show everyday Libertyville residents, both men and women, working in the downtown business district between the early 1900s and the 1960s.

The display was sparked by Trustee Jim Connell, a marketing professional, whose nonprofit Craftsman Cafe raises money for local nonprofits.

Connell, who was behind a window display at another location on Milwaukee Avenue honoring local musicians earlier this year was asked what might be possible for the storefront facing Cook Park, a popular gathering place for various events and activities.

Village officials last July approved measures to allow Brick & Mortar to convert the former grocery store to a shared work and meeting space for individuals, small businesses and others. But the project has been on hold, and the village was interested in adding visual interest to the windows that had been covered with brown paper.

Connell approached Jenny Barry, president of the Libertyville Historical Society, about a photo display. A work theme developed with Barry offering several possibilities and Connell making the final selections.

"These guys (Brick & Mortar) said, 'We want to build community and be part of the community,'" Connell said. "They gave me free reign."

Barry said one of the historical society's goals is to get more Libertyville history into the community and is thankful for this opportunity.

The display, assembled at no cost to the village, includes a QR code with historical information on each photo.

"It's been vacant and unattractive for a long time," said Trustee Matthew Hickey, who checked on progress while walking his dog. "Tying it back to work and how we work in Libertyville is a neat question to wonder."

Brick & Mortar's original and flagship facility is in Park Ridge. A location was just completed in Deerfield with plans for Glen Ellyn, LaGrange and Arlington Heights, according to the company's website.

"The demand is absolutely still there," said Nick Coffmann, spokesman for Brick & Mortar.

As of Monday, construction permits had not been issued for Libertyville. Company officials said it is the company's next location planned for development.

  Libertyville Trustee Jim Connell, left, and Nick Coffmann, a community ambassador for Brick & Mortar, post historical photos Monday at a vacant storefront on Milwaukee Avenue. John Starks/
  Libertyville Trustee Jim Connell checks his work Monday while installing photos of workers through the years on the windows of a vacant storefront at 416 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville. John Starks/
  Nick Coffmann, a community ambassador for Brick & Mortar, left, and Libertyville Trustee Jim Connell install historical photos Monday on the windows of a vacant storefront on Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville. John Starks/
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