About

 
 

Since 1996, American Vintage Reclamation’s mission has specifically focused on the rescue and preservation of Chicago’s interior and exterior architectural building elements, as well as the documentation of their prospective and related place in history. Having been born in Chicago, and being the grandson of a Slovenian farmer who immigrated here in 1921 with no real idea of a vocation, I can relate. Accordion player in the taverns didn’t cut it so he became an ironworker. I studied painting and printmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and attended Columbia College for photography. After school I was a bartender and earned a living as a finish carpenter. That brought me to building furniture and taking down barns and early wagon sheds in Maryland and Pennsylvania for the lumber. From deconstructing the buildings, it wasn’t too long before I realized the best way of ensuring the condition of the material was to take it out in the opposite order of which it was built. The evolution to focus on Chicago came out of the realization that the demolition in this city was at a fevered pitch and history and the materials were for the most part being buried. The decision was made to use my art and carpentry background and do my best to save pieces of what these guys spent their lives creating. 13,000 buildings later, I’m still surprised and adapting to the challenges and respectful of the opportunities, big and small.

Jimmy

Looking SW from the SE portion of Ward scaffolding, Furniture Mart and lake in background -circa 1925.

Looking SW from the SE portion of Ward scaffolding, Furniture Mart and lake in background -circa 1925.

1940’s image of the eastern end of Chicago Ave. where it butts up to Lake Shore Drive and the lake.

1940’s image of the eastern end of Chicago Ave. where it butts up to Lake Shore Drive and the lake.

 
“Job Security” Circa 1925  August Potokar (my grandfather) at 22 years of age working as an ironworker in Chicago on The Montgomery Ward Memorial Building. At the time, it was the tallest skyscraper of its kind.

“Job Security” Circa 1925

August Potokar (my grandfather) at 22 years of age working as an ironworker in Chicago on The Montgomery Ward Memorial Building. At the time, it was the tallest skyscraper of its kind.

Looking SW up at tower while standing on the NE portion of the Ward building roof-circa 1925.

Looking SW up at tower while standing on the NE portion of the Ward building roof-circa 1925.

Montgomery Ward Memorial building under construction-circa 1925.

Montgomery Ward Memorial building under construction-circa 1925.

303 East Chicago Ave. - NorthWestern School of Medicine Ward Memorial Building today.

303 East Chicago Ave. - NorthWestern School of Medicine Ward Memorial Building today.