Help Save the Club Where Frankie Knuckles Created House Music

Help Save the Club Where Frankie Knuckles Created House Music

For those that know their Chicago House history, the importance of the Warehouse cannot be overstated. Widely regarded as the birthplace of house and as the genre's namesake, the West Loop nightclub was an influential venue in the genre's formative days, with resident DJ Frankie Knuckles bringing together a mix of R&B, disco and electronic music.

Opened in 1977 by previous owner Robert Williams, the three-story former factory building served as a safe haven for the city's Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ community, where they could be free from harassment and feel included as they danced the night away. Knuckles would go on to start his own club, the Power Plant, taking his devoted following with him, while the Warehouse would continue to remain a fixture of Chicago's nightlife and house scenes, with the new owners opening the Music Box — where soon-to-be legendary Ron Hardy took up the mantle as resident DJ.

House would soon proliferate outside the brick walls of The Warehouse, with the sound Knuckles, Hardy and others had cultivated on those dancefloors going on to spread globally, while the venue that started it all has since faded into obscurity. Now it's under threat of being lost entirely. The building that housed the Warehouse recently came under new ownership after being sold in December 2022 and is already back on the market with a new listing that troublingly offers “the potential for demolition and new development.”

Despite its place in house music and Chicago nightlife history, The Warehouse has no current protections preventing the building from falling victim to the West Side's rapidly growing re-development plans. Fortunately, outreach group Preservation Chicago is looking to change that with a new petition calling for the building to be designated a local landmark.

The petition urges the City of Chicago to recognize the three-story industrial building on 206 South Jefferson Street as a formal landmark, which would offer it protections against being demolished or altered in any inappropriate way. "These walls have a story to tell," Preservation Chicago writes in the petition. "And we all should be able to experience first-hand that very place where DJ Frankie Knuckles created house music and changed the world."

Head here to sign Preservation Chicago's petition to save The Warehouse.

Photo via Getty/Sal Idriss/Redferns