Great Frame Up closes after almost 50 years in Hyde Park, fitness center moves in | Evening Summary

The Great Frame Up, a custom frame shop and local art seller, has closed after 47 years in Hyde Park.

The store, located at 1418 E. 53rd Street, opened in the neighborhood in 1976. The closure was announced in a July 22 statement by former owner and current employee Rebekah Younger, who wrote that the lease of the store had not been renewed and that the owners had to vacate the premises by August 18.

“We have indeed secured a price out of our current location at 53rd and Dorchester Mall,” Younger wrote, noting that the property is not owned by the University of Chicago — a common misconception.

The property, called Dorchester Commons, is owned by Mid-America Real Estate Group, a large conglomerate of retail real estate companies operating in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Great Frame Up isn’t the only business to start from the mall. According to a Mid-America Real Estate Group property listing in June, American Mattress, 1408 E. 53rd Street, is also up for rent. According to the list of goodsthe realtor has already leased the now vacant Great Frame Up location, wedged between a Papa John’s, Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins, to a company called Elite Performance Fitness.

Mid-America Real Estate Group also owns Woodlawn Retail Center, 1500-1528 E. 63rd Street. From July, they are looking for new tenants to occupy the former Friend Health Clinic Headquarters1522 E. 63rd St., and plan to resurface in the center.






A rendering of a reorganization plan for the Woodlawn Retail Center, 1500-1528 E. 63rd Street.




Mid-America Real Estate Group did not respond to the Herald’s request for comment.

Great Frame Up says goodbye, for now

“The Great Frame Up is one of the last framing stores south of the loop,” Younger wrote in the July statement. “We started out as a do-it-yourself photo framing store…Over the years, our business base shifted to more custom framing, but our dedication to supporting Chicago’s vibrant South Side art community remains.”

She added that the shop has employed many young artists who have become “established leaders in today’s art community” and that owner Mark Jelke has continued the shop’s longstanding practice of exhibiting works. local art in store.

In a separate statement posted to Facebook on August 15, Younger said the Great Frame Up was put into storage as the owners searched for a new location in the neighborhood. “We hope the hiatus will only last a few months,” Younger wrote, although owners have struggled to find affordable space or a pleasant landlord.

When Great Frame Up opened in 1976, the messenger wrote“you provide the artwork, the posters, the prints, the tapestry, what have you, and they provide the workspace, materials, and craftsmanship… Plus, it’s fun. ”

The store changed hands in 1979, when longtime Hyde Parker Rebekah Younger bought the franchise. Ownership changed when Younger stepped down in 1988 and then again in 2001 when current owner Mark Jelke purchased the franchise.

Shortly after opening, the Great Frame Up launched an Artist of the Month series, hosting a gallery for Hyde Park painters, photographers and authors. The Herald has featured many of these designers over the years, including Bill Ratcliffe, then director of the Hyde Park Co-op, in 2005, and the Hyde Park Photo Study Group in 2015. The shop has continued this practice until todayand currently features local painters Morgan Allen, Dalton Brown and Adolfo Davis, among others.







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Co-op director and artist Bill Ratcliffe exhibits his work at The Great Frame Up, July 13, 2005.










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Carol Johnson, Great Frame Up Artist of the Month for November, talks about her photo exhibit that documents 125 years of building exceptional buildings on the University of Chicago campus, November 2, 2015.










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Members of the Hyde Park Photo Study Group, seated (left to right) Paul Carson and Michael Schwartz, and standing (left to right) Raymond Wilkerson, Kenneth Mitchell, Bill Hammett, Jerlyn Maloy, Robin Heiss and Clara Carson, pose for the camera as Great Frame Up Artists of the Month for December, December 9, 2015.




The first Great Frame Up store opened in Lincoln Park in 1971. Four years later they began franchising the business, the first of which came to Hyde Park. As of 2019, the franchise had over 75 locations nationwide, spanning the country from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. The bulk of the stores – about 15 – remain in the Chicagoland area.

However, business has dwindled over the years as almost half of Great Frame Up locations have closed since the company peaked in the mid-2000s – more than 150 stores – according to a 2004 Chicago Tribune report.

Despite these setbacks, the local Great Frame Up wrote on its website“After nearly 50 years serving Hyde Park and the South Side of Chicago, we are committed to staying in the area.”

About Debra D. Johnson

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