It would be difficult to describe the joy and excitement felt in the Anna Held Floral Studio without mentioning the struggle and patience it took to get here: days away from a grand re-opening that took two years and some change to plan.
The Edgewater Beach Apartments was built in the 1920s, a woman named Anna Held opened a flower shop during a bygone era and Beth Tenney, my godmother, has been designing some of the most beautiful floral arrangements in the historical landmark for over 30 years.
Two years ago, new management, lease negotiations and building code left us with a single choice: move down the hall, abandon the marble soda fountain where beach-goers and Chicagoans took refuge and build a new home out of a vanilla box, the commissary. The apothecary cabinets, the original marble fountain and a few silk flowers remain in the vacant storefront that housed neighborhood gossip, fed the elderly residents and documented the height lines of every peewee who grew up in it, myself included.
When you drive past the big, pink building on Sheridan and Bryn Mawr, the words "Breakfast, Soda Fountain and Flower Shop" still read clearly facing northwest, but as of August 2015, we've filled the windows on the south end of the symmetrical, historical enchantment that belongs in a Wes Anderson film.
And sure, it has been somewhat of an Irish funeral. The locks have been changed, our etchings and notes have been painted over and sometimes I see the lights on. People still come in and ask for coffee, look for cookies and make sure to mention how much they liked the old space better, but the new studio fits us. A vision to focus solely on art and flowers has come to life.
Now, the walls of our studio are filled with artwork and our vintage cooler is full of flowers, but redefining our identity took effort. We've slowly gained walk-in traffic, fought off maintenance problems and broken a vase or two. But now, here we are, and we invite you to come take a look.
So this Friday, October 9th at 6:00 PM, we will be hosting our official grand re*opening party featuring the work of local artists, delicious bites and familiar faces. We will raise a glass and bid farewell to our past in hopes of making way for a locally-owed, bright and busy future.