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Famous Morton Salt Sign To Be ‘Revitalized’ As Building Is Transformed Into A Music Venue

The roof and sign are currently being replaced as part of the building’s redevelopment. Preservationists say the move is allowed under the site's landmark status.

The old Morton Salt warehouse on Elston Ave., which is being redeveloped into a music venue and office space
Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
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GOOSE ISLAND — If you glance east from the Kennedy Expressway near Goose Island this week, you might notice something missing. 

The old Morton Salt warehouse sign, long a fixture of the Chicago skyline, is being replaced. 

Developers are putting in a new roof at the site, which is set to become a music venue and office space. That will include an updated version of the iconic Morton Salt branding and logo. 

In a news release, Morton said the roof and sign enhancements will “modernize” the brand. 

“The updated logo features a fresh and friendly font, while maintaining the qualities of the original word mark, specifically the bold, all-caps type style,” the release said. “In addition to the word mark, the company updated its Morton Salt Girl icon as part of its brand refresh. The new Morton Salt Girl has cleaner, simplified linework to fit better with the new ‘Morton Salt’ word mark.” 

Morton declined to comment beyond the release and did not provide an updated image of the what the new sign will look like. The company says the roof is expected to be completed before winter. 

Developers behind the $30 million Morton Salt project sought and received an official landmark designation from the City of Chicago earlier this year, which usually restricts what updates and changes can be made to protected properties. 

Credit: Chicago Department of Planning and Development / Provided
City leaders reviewed a plan to convert the Morton Salt building near Goose Island into a concert hall and office building.

But local preservationists say the sign replacement is allowed under the building’s current status. 

“It was landmarked with the idea that they could replace the roof, because the roof needed to be replaced,” said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. “The roof was not original to the historic building, it had been replaced over time as has the sign and logo look been replaced and updated over time. So it was thought that a new roof would be appropriate.”

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Work is underway to replace the iconic Morton Salt logo at the company’s old warehouse on Elston Ave.

Miller says he hopes sections of the old roof will be saved, possibly for use as soundproofing or ornamentation in the new music hall. But ultimately, he’s just glad the building isn’t being torn down. 

“At the end of the day, the building will be reused as a new function. It’ll be a welcome function…the shape and the form is all authentic, the masonry sections are all authentic,” he said. “It’s never an easy decision when some of these things come up. But…this is an investment in the future, and the new roof and the new sign will last probably for more than half a century.”

An employee with R2, one of the project’s co-developers, did not return requests for comment.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The old Morton Salt factory at 1357 N. Elston Ave. on Goose Island, which will be converted into office space and a music venue, as seen on June 23, 2021.
Credit: Chicago Department of Planning and Development / Provided
City leaders reviewed a plan to convert the Morton Salt building near Goose Island into a concert hall and office building.

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