Won Kow Restaurant, 1927-28

Architects: Michaelson & Rognstad.  Designed by the same team and built at the same time as the On Leong/Pui Tak Building, the Won Kow Building at 2233-2239 S. Wentworth Ave. differs in being a private, commercial structure.  Commissioned by a restaurateur named Moy, the second floor has been a restaurant since it first opened.  The ground floor has housed (and still houses) shops while the third floor has recently been converted to office space.  Like the On Leong/Pui Tak Building, this one is constructed of brick and ornamental tile, has open second and third floor balconies, and features a partial tile roof supported by Chinese brackets.  Further, it shares with the On Leong building the motif of an M-shaped pai lo gateway that the architects seem to have liked especially.  But the overall effect is as much Moorish as Chinese — the architects may have been influenced by designs for the many exotically decorated movie theaters and ballrooms built in Chicago during the 1920s.  Urns on top, in spite of their funereal symbolism, were common enough on Chicago buildings of the period.

The second floor of the building still serves as a restaurant under its original name although not the family of its original owners.  It is believed to be the second oldest continuously operating Chinese restaurant in Chicago.  The oldest is Orange Garden on Irving Park Road, which opened in he early 1920s.


WonKow detail

WonKow postcard


Interior as shown on postcard, 1970s.  None of the decor seems as early as the 1920s,

including the dropped ceiling and the paintings on the walls.

One thought on “Won Kow Restaurant, 1927-28

Comments are closed.