|NHS North Lawndale Offices, 3555 W Ogden Ave., photo taken Dec. 19, 2012|
Several weeks ago, a client came to NHS whose mother was known as an activist in Lawndale. We asked her questions about the Contract Buyers League and if she had any memories of how her parents bought their home. When asked for proof of ownership for possible repair work on her home, the client presented a credit application her mother had applied for from Al Berland. The application indicated that Berland sold the house to her mother on contract. And one thing she did remember was going along with her mother to make her contract payments to Berland at Paint City, 3555 W Ogden Avenue.
Like many others, the Berland family faced hard times living in Lawndale during the Great Depression. But in 1936, at the urging of a family friend, Mr. P G Berland opened a paint store on Ogden Avenue, and it prospered. After the Depression, many homes required maintenance that had been put off for so long, so they came to P G Berlands Paint City for paint and supplies. Albert Berland worked at his father’s store after college and would go on to take over and expand the family business. Through contacts from working at Paint City and influence from a longtime friend, Berland began to invest in real estate and became part of a small group of men that exploited the housing market on the West Side, though not the only group. 1
The building at 3555 W Ogden remained Paint City until 1982 when the chain was sold to Sherwin Williams. 2 In 1999 Neighborhood Housing Services opened their North Lawndale office within this very building, however, by that time the building’s past life as an office for contract selling had been forgotten. It is ironic that today NHS is supporting homeownership and strengthening the community of North Lawndale in the same building as a contract seller’s business.
P G Berland’s Paint & Wallpaper City commercial from 1982 3
1 Satter, "Family Properties". 32-34.
2 “Albert E. Berland Owner of Paint Stores.” Chicago Sun-Times 26 Jan. 1994, LATE SPORTS FINAL, NEWS: 69.3 “Berlands Paint & Wallpaper City (Commercial, 1982).” YouTube.