Excitement is building in Homewood about the redevelopment of the south side of Ridge Road west of Martin Avenue, where a mixed-use, residential/business building is planned.
One of the buildings involved in the project is 2049-2051 Ridge Road, known for many years as Funk’s Hall, which was Homewood’s first movie theater, among other contributions to local history.
Today, the exterior of the building, with it’s green mansard facade and front brickwork redone in the early 1970s, gives little evidence of the building’s importance in the business and social history of early Homewood.
Henry Funk, a successful Homewood businessman and grocer, had the large two-story brick building built on what was then Main Street in 1911. The first floor of the building contained space for two storefronts while the second floor contained a large open hall where various community groups held meetings, dances, dinners and other functions.
There weren’t many in Homewood who didn’t have an occasion to attend an event in the hall.
After construction, druggist Jacob Sachs opened the Homewood Drug Company on the first floor of the building. His was the first business in Homewood to have an electric sign hanging on its exterior-quite a novelty at the time. In the other half of the first floor, Jacob and Fannie Schwab established the People’s Store where they sold dry goods and clothing.
On Monday and Thursday evenings, John Hruby rented the second-floor hall to show moving pictures.
The first film shown was the two-part epic “The Life of Moses.” The moving picture shows were a big hit in town and by the end of 1911 Hruby was also showing films on Saturday nights.
By 1915, the theater business was such a success, it moved to space on the first floor.
On Sept. 15, 1917, the village’s volunteer fire department held a farewell party in the hall for local men who were heading off to join the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I.
Over the years, other businesses occupied the building and the second floor was converted to apartments in recent years.
Today, Loulou Belle boutique and Artistix Salon continue to call the old Funk’s Hall building home, which has stood watch over the comings and goings on west Ridge Road for more than a century.