The five-story Hills building, 906-910 W. Mitchell St., was constructed in 1919 and was, for years, a neighborhood anchor, housing one of a number of department stores that lined bustling Mitchell Street. During its heyday in the first half of the 20th century, Mitchell Street did a trade second in the city only to Wisconsin Avenue. The first floor housed “the general run of yard goods and similar departments,” as well as a bakery. The mezzanine was home to the “art goods.” Housewares were in the basement and clothing on the second floor. On the third floor were the employees lunch room and kitchen, offices and, for customers, the drapery, carpet and furniture departments. In 1929, Goldmann retired and leased the building to the Interstate Department Stores, which said it would continue to run the store as it was. The name was later changed to Hill’s and the store operated here for another three decades, closing in 1963. The sole remnant today of the Interstate retail empire is Toys “R” Us. Other businesses also operated in the space during the Hill’s years, including a Krambo/Kroger grocery store in the basement, from 1947 to 1965, and Goeb’s Finer Bakeries, 1948-55. A bargain shop occupied space from 1965 to ’68 and Empire Television & Appliance and Big Bend Self Service Shoe Store were also in there in the ’60s. The next decade found National Hardware, Wedding & Banquet Services and PM Upholstery Fabric & Supplies in the building. By the 1980s, the space was being converted from retail and so began a long run of social services and municipal offices, and tenants included SER Jobs for Progress, a city tool loan program, state probation and parole offices, Social Security, United Migrant Opportunities Services and Genesis Behavioral Health. One of the most interesting tenants was Top of the Hills, a short-lived punk rock club in the penthouse, that staged gigs by the likes of Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains and Beastie Boys around 1982. Rock critic Divina Infusino described the club as, “up four flights of stairs, in a South Side dinner-hall-turned-oven.”
While touring the Alexander lofts, visitors will have the opportunity to see how Gorman and Company has turned history into a modern day living community. While keeping the integrity of the building and neighborhood in mind, The Alexander lofts, maintained the original staircases, picture windows, and columns. Step back in time, while embracing the style and comfort of today.