Lee Lumber closing after 6 decades in Bridgeport

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Chicago's largest family-owned lumber yard is no longer in business. After more than six decades, it was time to close the doors for good at Lee Lumber.

After more than six decades, it was time to close the doors for good at Lee Lumber.
Chicago's largest family-owned lumber yard is no longer in business.

Built from the ground up by Lee Baumgarten, the sign along Pershing Road in the Bridgeport neighborhood tells the story of a business that has weathered the ups and downs of the economy since 1952.

Baumgarten's sons are the co-owners of Lee Lumber who had made the tough decision to close.

"It's sad, it's very strange," co-owner Randy Baumgarten said.

Baumgarten said the reasons for closing include their location, more competition and no buyer as he and his brother are ready to retire.

"We get people coming in just to say goodbye, that we haven't seen for years, and shake your hand and say thank you. We get vendors, the same way. And even one of our competitors brought pizzas in for all of our people," Baumgarten said.

Among the dozens who will be looking for work is Mike Heard. The yard foreman has worked for Lee Lumber for 42 years.

"It hurts. Like I said, I thought I'd be able to retire from here, but it look like I'll be out here looking for another job soon," Heard said.

In the mill shop, workers took the last custom order about a week and a half ago. All of the specialized equipment will be auctioned off on November 6.
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