Pine Grove Apartments
by: chicago designslinger
[Pine Grove Apartments (1923) Loewenberg & Loewenberg, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
For some apartment dwellers livin' the high life might mean that your building's amenities include a pool, an in-building gym, roof-top-deck, a doorman, and perhaps a screening room. Buildings like Chicago's Ritz Carlton Residences, or the residential portion of the city's Waldorf Astoria Hotel, offer-up all that and much more - an apartment with all the conveniences of luxurious hotel living.
[Pine Grove Apartments, 2828 N. Pine Grove Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
After the First World War, Chicago experienced an apartment building boom that offered residents the perks of hotel living for not much more than the price you would pay for an average rental. Society was changing. People were more mobile, more women were entering the work force, domestic life was being redefined - and real estate developers picked-up on the new trend. The apartment hotel was meant to meet the need of this new mass market by allowing people to rent by the week, month, or year. Two to four room apartments were offered furnished or unfurnished and usually included a small kitchenette. But, if you didn't feel like cooking - remember this was before fast or pre-packaged, microwavable food was available on every street corner - management also offered meals prepared by an in-house kitchen staff served in an elegantly appointed dining room. There were smoking rooms for men, lounges for ladies, and many offered a full service lending library on the premises. 24-hour front desk and maid service was included along with a switchboard operator to answer your phone calls, and an elevator operator to take you to and from your floor.
[Pine Grove Apartments, Surf-Pine Grove Historic District /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
With an apartment hotel project in mind, investors Robert Edelson and Hyland Paullin purchased a large piece of property on Pine Grove Avenue just north of Diversey Boulevard from the William Grace estate in 1922 for $60,000. The suburban-like community that the Graces had moved into 40 years earlier had transformed itself into a densely packed neighborhood now linked to the bustling downtown job market by several public transit lines, populated by just the kind of clientele that was showing an interest in apartment hotel life. The new Hotel Pine Grove would offer 2, 3, and 4-room apartments with a large public dining room, three private dining rooms, a glass enclosed roof garden over the north wing of the building which would include restaurant service, and of course a ladie's social lounge and men's smoking room. The apartments came unfurnished, but, as the Chicago Tribune reported, management did include a Murphy In-A-Dor bed, utilities, and an electric refrigerator, free of charge.
[Pine Grove Apartments, Lakeview, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Architects Max and Israel Loewenberg's effusive exterior decor helped the owners market the place as a cut above the rest, offering a sense of palatial living behind the building's ornately trimmed doorway. The plasticity of terra cotta allowed the Loewenberg brothers to create a jewel box of an entry pavilion and enhance the buff-colored brick with an abundance of classically-inspired curliques and swags that would have made any 18th century European noble feel right at home. When the building was ready for occupancy in May 1923, Baird & Warner, the building's leasing agent, ran a large display ad in the Tribune with a banner headline proclaiming "The Pine Grove - Apartment de Luxe - Coupling Old World romanticism with every modern convenience." Unfortunately the luxe times were about to end. The Great Depression brought the Roaring Twenties lifestyle of a large number of apartment hotels to a close. Many were converted into rooming houses or, like the Pine Grove, became just your average everyday apartment building with none of the hotel amenities, and no Murphy beds.