I was pleased to participate last week in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Century Public House and Morse Theater at 1328 W. Morse. Our groundbreaking was purely symbolic, however, as work on the restaurant and music venue was already well underway, with many green technology features as part of the mix.
Just one year ago, long-time Rogers Park resident Andy McGhee and his son, Devin, announced their plan to transform the old Cobbler’s Mall into a 99-seat restaurant (the Century Public House) and a 299-seat music venue (the Morse Theater). The restaurant, which will be located in the front portion of the development, will provide hearty Midwest fare with an historic menu reminiscent of restaurants at the turn of the 20th century.
The theater, which will be located in the rear, will offer acoustic entertainment, including jazz, gospel, folk and Americana music.
Andy and Devin hope to have both the restaurant and the theater up and running by this coming spring.
According to Andy, “there will be no raucous rock shows. This will be a seated venue.” The restaurant and musical venue is targeting people in the 35-and-over age range. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and the theater will let out by 10 p.m. weekends and 11 p.m. or midnight on weekends.
Andy and Devin are currently working with DevCorp North, Rogers Park’s economic development corporation, to identify off-street parking locations for the restaurant and theater.
Having a new restaurant and entertainment venue on Morse Avenue is exciting enough, but what makes this development even more noteworthy is the McGhees’ commitment to making it green as well.
The project includes an area of green roof and will use highly reflective materials for the remaining portion of the roof. The ventilation system is designed to recover the waste heat that comes off the stage lighting, and will be “demand-controlled” so that the HVAC system is used at a minimum except when the theater is occupied.
The McGhees will also install twice the code-required insulation and LED lights will be used for much of the stage lighting.
Of course, the greenest part of the project is the building’s reuse. Although the interior is almost entirely new, the existing exterior walls are preserved. The original terra-cotta detail on the upper front facade is being restored and the lower half is being recreated.
The McGhees hope to obtain a LEED Silver certification for the building, which will make it one of only a handful of LEED certified buildings in the nation.
Below are several renderings of the interior and exterior of the project to give you an idea what it’s going to look like. I’m sure you’ll agree that the Century Public House and Morse Theater will be wonderful additions to our neighborhood.
Morse Theater Facade
Century Public House, close-up view for the exterior
Century Public House Interior
Morse theater, view to stage
Morse Theater Interior, view from backstage catwalk