Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Roanoke/Lumber Exchange Building, 11 S. LaSalle Street
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Roanoke/Lumber Exchange Building, 11 S. LaSalle Street (1915) Holabird & Roche, architects; (1922) Holabird & Roche,  Andrew Rebori, architects; (1982) restoration, Hammond, Beeby & Babka, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Leander J. McCormick became a very wealthy man in partnership with his brother Cyrus as the owners of the McCormick Reaper works. As with many families, blood was not always thicker than water, and by the late 1800s Leander had had enough of Cyrus and the company. He sold most of his shares in the business and used some of the cash to invest in real estate which is where the story of our building begins.

  [Roanoke/Lumber Exchange Building, 11 S. LaSalle Street, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1888 Leander purchased a piece of property at the corner of LaSalle and Madison streets in Chicago's business district. The Major Building, built right after the Great Fire in 1871 and renamed the Roanoke, was 7-stories of Italianate gobbledeegoop, which stood on the site. By 1914 the Roanoke was outdated and no longer competitive in the downtown commercial market so the Leander McCormick estate took action. Leander had died in 1900 and left a large portion of his estate in trust, including his property holdings. To maximize the trust's income, old properties were given new life, and the very busy architectural firm of Holabird & Roche were asked to design a new building for this corner lot. A major tenant, the Lumberman's Exchange, signed on to lease 10 floors of the new structure and the building was alternately known as the Lumber Exchange and the Roanoke.

  [Roanoke/Lumber Exchange Building, 11 S. LaSalle Street, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Demolition of the old building began in 1915 and before you knew it a 16-story skyscraper towered over the site. Holabird & Roche were masters in the art of high-rise design, and although the building was built with an ordinary structural steel frame, the designers added Portuguese Gothic flourishes to the exterior to give the exterior some pizzazz. Originally topped by an ornate crown, the cornice was removed in 1922 when the building grew by an additional 5 stories, which was designed by the same architects, and further maximized the property's income for the trust.
In 1925, the estate purchased an additional lot to the east of the existing LaSalle street frontage and Holabird & Roche, along with Andrew Rebori, added a 33-story tower to the building complex. The McCormick's were still the trustees, with Leander's grandson Robert Hall serving as chairman of the trust's board, but the landholdings were overseen by a manager who was employed by the family. In 1981, Equity Associates partnered with the trust and took over management of the family's real estate interests. At that time architects Hammond, Beeby & Babka were brought in to oversee the renovation and rehabilitation of the 66-year-old building which was renamed the 11 South LaSalle Street Building, still a piece of the McCormick property pie.

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