Morton Building, Chicago
by: chicago designslinger
[Morton Building, Chicago (1896) Jenney & Mundie, architects; (1986) adaptive reuse, Booth Hansen & Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Although the banner proclaims 538 S. Dearborn as the Wyndham Blake Hotel and the carved lettering over the door says that this is the Morton Building, the 12-story structure carried neither name when it was built in 1896.
[Morton Building, Chicago, 500 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Architects William Le Baron Jenney and Charles Mundie were asked to design a building for Thomas A. Davis, which not surprisingly was called the Davis Building. The tower was a relatively small project for Jenney, who is known as the father of the modern skyscraper, and the ornately decorated base was a departure from the designer's usual treatment of the lower floor when compared to his earlier projects. Davis sold his investment to Carl C. Heisen soon after it was built and for a while it carried the name Star. But no name survived through the ages like the name Morton, which was cleverly carved into the stonework by Levi P. Morton, once the Governor of New York and Vice-President of the United States, who bought the Dearborn Street structure in 1909.
[Morton Building, Chicago, Wyndham Blake Hotel, South Loop Printing House District, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
The building has sometimes been called the Morton Salt Building since Joy Morton's salt empire was headquartered in Chicago, but that Morton was never associated with this South Loop property, and the Wyndham group was not the first hotelier to occupy the building. In 1986 under the supervision of architects Booth Hansen & Associates, the old office building was combined with the old 7-story loft building next door and the newly conjoined structures were adaptively reused and converted into a boutique hotel called, the Morton.