Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Temple Sholom
 by: chicago designslinger

[Temple Sholom (1930) Loebl, Schlossman & Demuth; Coolidge & Hodgdon, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Temple Sholom congregation had been around for a while by the time they built this impressive facade on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. Founded in 1867 as the North Chicago Hebrew Congregation, one of a handful of Reform Jewish congregations in America, the group held their first service in a rented hall on the second floor of a commercial building on the city's north side. And as the membership grew, congregants built their own place of worship at the corner of Superior and Wells Street, in today's condo converted, art galleried, restaurant-packed River North area.  

 [Temple Sholom, 3840 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

After the Chicago Fire burned down their synagogue in 1871, it was off to a new building at Rush and Walton Streets before settling into a fine brick and terra-cotta structure on La Salle Street in 1893. By 1911, the 2,000 member organization was ready once again for a move-on-up, and left the near north side for what was then the far north side of an expanding city. Their newest home on Pine Grove at Grace Street was their largest building to date, but the group was not inclined to sit in one place for long, and by 1926 they were on the move - again. With a $100,000 donation from real estate tycoon and vice-president of the congregation W.B. Frankenstein, the association purchased a prime piece of property on Sheridan Road overlooking the park and the lake, which was just a few blocks away from their Pine Grove corner. With the large vacant lot in hand, the next thing was to construct a building worthy of the location.

  [Temple Sholom, lake View, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Jerry Loebl and Norm Schlossman were graduate students and classmates at the Armour Institute of Technology in 1925 when they decided to form a partnership and were awarded the commission to build a temple for Sholom, which it just so happened that the duo had designed while still in school. Along with John Demuth, who joined the pair in 1926, and established architects Charles Coolidge and Charles Hodgdon, who could supervise and keep an on the the young men, the team got to work. The structure was comprised of two components - a place for worship and a community center - wrapped in one Byzantine-inspired, monumental, stone building. The center contained among other things, a large auditorium which could be combined with the temple portion of the structure for extra seating. A large, steel "curtain" was built between the two spaces which could be retracted to join the rooms together and create the one, large auditorium usually required for the high holidays.
It seems that this time the folks at Temple Sholom were finally satisfied with their 1930-era synagogue and location because they still come here to meet, pray, and practice the beliefs set forth in the liberal Reform Jewish tradition.
Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple (1997) Lohan Associates, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Since organizing in 1861, Chicago Sinai Congregation has worshipped in 8 different locations, starting with a brief residency on the city's north side before moving into, and building, a series structures on the south side. In 1997 when the members relocated once again, the congregation returned back to the near north side neighborhood where it all began 136 years before.

  [Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple, 15 W. Delaware Place, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Sinai had followed their members as they moved from one part of the city to another and purchased a long narrow city lot near the north Michigan Avenue retail district and hovering on the southern edge of Chicago's upscale Gold Coast residential neighborhood. Given the lot's size, architect Dirk Lohan had his work cut out for him. The long, many-staired entry cutting back into the property line gave the building some visual drama and a sense of place. Otherwise the relatively small structure could have easily gotten lost among the shuffle on a tight, congested urban street corner surrounded by towering residential high-rises.

  [Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple, Near North Side, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The congregation calls their building a temple, and is sometimes referred to as a synagogue, while newspaper reporters 100 or more years ago often referred to these buildings "Jewish churches." So what exactly is the difference between a temple and a synagogue? Well, very simply put, it depends on who you ask, and what branch of Judaism the congregation worships under. Basically there are 3 different traditions in the Jewish faith, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. Reform is the more progressive, liberally-minded sector of the faithful; the Conservatives, more conservative and traditional; and the Orthodox, the most conservative, traditional and old school. Conservative and Orthodox Jews would never call their house of worship a temple, the only Temple was in Jerusalem. The Reformers on the other hand believe that the place they choose to exercise their expression of faith, is an extension of, or equivalent to,  the original Temple. Conservatives worship in a synagogue, while members of the Orthodox sects meet in shuls. So if you're not sure - what should you do? Apparently the term synagogue is relatively safe and all inclusive, though it still might rub some people the wrong way.
Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago (1912) Alfred S. Alschuler, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

While researching topics for this week, it was surprising to find out how many moves Chicago's Jewish congregations made over the years and how often their houses of worship have withstood the tests of time and a variety of uses. Chicago Sinai is one of those movers arounders, founded by German immigrants in 1861 as one of the first Reform congregations in America, and the first one in Chicago. The Reform movement began in Germany during the mid-19th century when German Jews decided to embrace the ever changing and evolving world around them, and incorporate contemporary life and its vicissitudes into ancient Jewish religious traditions. In 1885 Sinai rabbi Rev. Dr. Emil Hirsch, was one of the major participants in the Pittsburgh Platform which set out 8 guiding principles for the American Reform movement.

  [Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, Chicago Sinai Congregation Temple, 4622 S. Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1910 architect Alfred Alschuler drew up plans for a Chicago Sinai building complex that would include an auditorium for worship and a large community center which would house offices, classrooms, meeting spaces, a gym and a pool. The congregation had moved several times since 1861 before building a substantial synagogue structure on the city's near south side at Indiana and 21st Street. But as members moved further south, a large corner lot was purchased at 46th and Grand Boulevard to serve as a new home base. Since the congregation was part of the Reform tradition, Alschuler followed a design scheme that was popular at the time with other congregations in not proclaiming that the building was a house a worship, by choosing a historical classic architectural style. The restrained sophistication of Greco/Roman refinement would convey to the passerby that this was a substantial edifice, it could be a bank or a library, but not wear its religious affiliation on its sleeve.

  [Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the early 1940s the neighborhood around Sinai was changing. The congregation moved once again and sold their building to the Catholic Church which opened a high school to serve the now predominantly African-American community. Corpus Christi High School lasted until 1961 when the Franciscan fathers who ran the school moved into a modern building constructed a few blocks away and Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church moved in. Mt. Pisgah played a large role in establishing an office of Dr. Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Chicago, and in 1969 began one of the city's first weekly food give-away programs for the poverty stricken neighborhood.
John C. Scales House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [John C. Scales House (1894) George W. Maher, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When John Scales built this house in 1894 it was technically within the corporate    boundaries of the City of Chicago, but the area was so undeveloped back then that the future city neighborhood was more sub-urban than urban. Scales' architect was a young George Maher, who would go on to become a formidable practitioner of the Prairie School style of design, which makes the traditional Queen Anne, Gothically embellished, house all the more surprising.

  [John C. Scales House, 840 W. Hutchinson Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

John C. Scales came to Chicago with his parents in 1845 when he was just 4 years old, and his father set up a commission business in town, where John eventually became a partner. Scales, the son, invested his money in real estate and purchased a section of the Buena Park subdivision on the city's then remote north side. The sandy, grassy area was just starting to undergo development when Chicago won the bid to host the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Scales joined a consortium of north siders to make the pitch that the Fair grounds be located along the north shore lake front. The Fair board was looking at a number of sites in the city and had come to the conclusion that the event should be held along the lakefront, but weren't sure if it should be on the north shore or south shore. Scales and his team raised $300,000 and secured a commitment from area property owners that they would lease the required 300 acres of land to the Fair organization for the duration. The north side group also offered the Board a further commitment of $1,000,000 upon selection of the north side site. It seemed as though the Fair just might come to Buena Park, but when the Board of Governors took a final site selection vote, the south side location won, and as they say, the rest is history.

  [John C. Scales House, Hutchinson Street Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Since the Fair deal was dead, Scales built his house, divided his piece of Kenesaw Terrace, (today's Hutchinson Street) into large housing lots and sold them off bit by bit, while Maher went on to design several homes along the street, a visual progression of his stylistic evolution. Unfortunately for John and his wife Margaret, a house meant to celebrate their good fortune was the location of much sadness. In 1895, their oldest son John H. died and his funeral service was held in the home. Then in 1906 their son Albert died and his wake was held there. Son Ralph, married in 1907, died two years later and his funeral was held in his parent's home. When John C. died in 1921, survived by his son Lincoln, 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren, Margaret held services in the house, and moved shortly after to Phoenix, Arizona.
Civic Opera Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Civic Opera Building (1929) Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When Chicago was a relatively young, wild city and starting to make its mark in the world, leaders in the business community decided that the next step on the way to urban sophistication and recognition, was to open an art museum and a build a jaw dropping opera house. They accomplished both. Then, after nearly 40 years of performances in the Auditorium Theater, built to house the Chicago Grand Opera Company, the Adler & Sullivan masterwork was slated for demolition. So in 1926 opera board president Samuel Insull lead the charge to build a new, spectacular opera building on the banks of the Chicago River.

  [Civic Opera Building, Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Insull was a utilities magnate. Electricity was his game, and he built an empire that   included the giant Commonwealth Edison franchise, the Chicago Rapid Transit Company (CRT), today's "L" system, the suburban inter-urban rail system, and a controlling interest in the electric usage of 6,000 utility providers in 37 states. In 1929, the year the new opera building was completed, he was the president of 9 other companies and sat on the board of 85 corporations, 65 of which he chaired. What you can't see today casting its long shadow on the building's impressive colonnade, is Insull's elevated spur line that hovered over the grand entrance of of the Civic Opera House, Civic Theater and the office towers of 20 N. Wacker Drive, where it ended. The small extension was part of Chicago's downtown Loop elevated system and could deliver opera goers right to the building's front door. It was torn down in the mid-1940s as part of the transformation of old, warehouse-packed Market Street into modern Wacker Drive.

  [Civic Opera Building, Chicago, City of Chicago Landmark /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

With Insull's backing, architect's Graham, Anderson, Probst & White pulled out all the stops in designing the $20,000,000 structure. Insull realized that the opera could never pay for itself, he took over the old company in 1920 when it was near bankruptcy, and built an office tower above the auditoriums of the Civic Opera House and the smaller Civic Theatre, to generate rental income in an effort to help offset the costs associated with turning out grand opera. But the stock market came crashing down in October, 1929 just 7 months after opening night. The event proved disastrous for Insull. He lost everything. Apparently he wasn't quite the businessman everyone thought he was, he had leveraged his entire empire on personal guarantees and when the markets started collapsing, so did the utilities king's finances. The building managers found tenants to lease the office space, but the opera company didn't fare as well. They were out of business by 1932, and another company was formed under the original name, Chicago Grand Opera, but they only ran for 3 years. Another company was organized in 1935, then again in 1940, but by 1946 Chicago no longer had a resident opera company to boast about.
All that changed in 1954 when Carol Fox organized the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Under the leadership of her successor Ardis Krainik, the Lyric became financially solvent, a first since the original company was founded in the 1880s, and thrives in grand style, in Insull's grand vision, to this day.
Pilgrim Baptist Church - Kehilah Anshe Ma'ariv Synagogue
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Pilgrim Baptist Church - Kehilah Anshe Ma'ariv Synagogue (1891) Adler & Sullivan, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

On January 6, 2006 a raging fire gutted the interior of the Pilgrim Baptist Church, another loss in a long line of Adler & Sullivan buildings reduced to rubble. The former synagogue turned church, had been standing on the corner of 33rd and Indiana for 115 years when a roofer's torch apparently sparked the blazing inferno. The building was finally getting a new roof in an effort to help stop water from seeping into the interior, which was destroying Sullivan's exquisite interior ornamentation.

  [Pilgrim Baptist Church - Kehilah Anshe Ma'ariv Synagogue, 3301 S. Indiana Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1890, Dankmar Adler was asked to design a new synagogue building for the members of the Kehilah Anshe Ma'ariv congregation. Adler's father had served as the congregation's rabbi from the time of the family's arrival in Chicago in 1861 until Leibman Adler's retirement in 1882. The building followed close on the heels of Adler and Sullivan's stunning architectural achievement, 1889 Auditorium Building. Capped by a towering pyramidal roof, the 4-walls of the rough-huned limestone contained a few of Louis Sullivan's signature floral inspired panels on the exterior, but it was the interior sanctuary that exploded in Sullivan's florid motifs, accented in gold.

  [Pilgrim Baptist Church - Kehilah Anshe Ma'ariv Synagogue, National register of Historic Places, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the 1920s the neighborhood had changed and the synagogue now sat near the heart of Chicago's thriving African American community known then as the Black Belt. In 1921 the members of the 5-year-old Pilgrim Baptist Church purchased the building and began to worship in what became one of the largest African American congregations in the city. From 1926 until the 1950s, under pastor Rev. Junius C. Austin, Pilgrim Baptist could claim an active membership of over 5,000 members, often swelling to thousands more. In 1932, Thomas A. Dorsey became music director, and gospel music was born. Dorsey, once Ma Rainey's piano accompanist, combined the tempo of the blues with the resonance of traditional spirituals, to create a new harmonious sound. And it was under Dorsey's tutelage that Clara Ward, Roberta Martin and Mahalia Jackson created a rhapsody of musical vibrations that made them, and gospel, world famous.
Once the fire was put out, there was nothing left but 4 walls, smoldering debris and hope that the building would rise again. Last week, the church announced the beginnings of a $3 million campaign to raise a roof over the open space and to start work on raising funds for a 4-phase project to rebuild the structure, which will take an estimated $30 million to complete.
200 East Pearson, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [200 East Pearson, Chicago (1916) Robert S. De Golyer, architect /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

If you've been following our posts this week, we've featured two of modernist Mies van der Rohe's final Chicago projects. The city became the architect's home in 1938 after the rise of Hitler in Mies' native country and an invitation to come to Chicago to head up the architecture program of the Armour Institute, soon to be the Illinois Institute of Technology. After spending a few years living in hotel rooms, in 1941 Mies moved into an apartment at 200 E. Pearson, where he lived until his death 28 years later.

  [200 East Pearson, Chicago, Campbell Apartments, 200 E. Pearson Street, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The building was built by George Campbell in 1916 and designed by an up and coming architect named Robert S. De Golyer. The Italian-palazzo-inspired box offered two, 6-room apartments on each of its five residential floors. The ground floor contained a lobby, service areas, a small apartment for the building manager and servant's quarters. Although the apartments had only 6 rooms, they were large, and included two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a butler's pantry plus a maid's room off the kitchen which included its own bath. Depending on the year and the marketing, 200 E. Pearson was sometimes referred to as the Campbell Apartments, after the owner, but more often than not the building was simply known by its address. When Mies moved in, units were renting in the $400/month range, which ate up more than half of his annual $8,000 I.I.T salary. After Campbell's death, there were rumors that his son was going to divide vacated apartments into smaller units to increase the income potential. So in 1946 the ten occupants got together, formed a co-op, pooled their resources, and bought the property for $113,000, which has remained a cooperative ever since.

  [200 East Pearson, Chicago, Streeterville, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Although the apartment seems spacious for one person, Mies hardly ever lived there alone. One of his three adult daughters would often take up residency at their father's place, often two at a time, plus there was his live-in housekeeper. As he aged and his arthritis became crippling to the point of immobility, architects from the Office of Mies van der Rohe would visit him at home to go over the business of a very active and lucrative architectural practice.
Many people who know Mies' work are surprised to find out that the man who was so instrumental in the creation of modern architecture lived in such a classically designed building. Especially when his most famous apartment complex, 860-880 Lake Shore Drive stands just a few blocks from Pearson Street. The developer of the world famous "Glass Houses" Herbert Greenwald, offered Mies an apartment in one of the towers when they were completed in 1951, but the architect declined. Supposedly he didn't want to live in a building where he might encounter other tenants who could corner him in an elevator and compliment him on his innovative design or berate him and complain. It's also been said that he got much more pleasure looking out at the two towers from his paned, double-hung apartment window, rather than standing inside his glassed-walled apartment building and looking out at the world.
330 North Wabash - IBM Building
  by: chicago designslinger

 [330 North Wabash - IBM Building (1971) Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Office of Mies van der Rohe, architects; C.F. Murphy & Associates, associate architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In May 1968 the International Business Machines company announced that they would be constructing a new building in Chicago designed by the internationally renowned, 82-year-old architect Mies van der Rohe.

[330 North Wabash - IBM Building, 330 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The dark brown tower would be Mies last Chicago building, the end in a long line of projects constructed in the designer's home city of the past 30 years. The building contained all the signature elements of the Miesian method keeping things down to the essentials, resulting in a purely modern structure for a modern time. Often faulted for the starkness of his buildings, the architect made no excuse for the lack of decoration for decoration's sake, firmly believing that architecture should be a reflection of its era. To him, the buildings he designed embraced the technology of the times, no different than what medieval masons did when they figured out how to use the tools and materials at hand to build the great cathedrals.

    [330 North Wabash - IBM Building, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

He was often taken to task for decrying decoration while at the same time applying rolled steel I-beams to his exteriors, which some argued were pure decoration. Although the thin vertical beam structurally supported the floor to ceiling windows, critics felt that the "Less is more" architect was in violation of his own principles. Mies countered that good design is good design, and that nothing coming off his drafting table had anything more than it needed.
While Mies was involved in the design of the IBM tower, he didn't live to see it completed. He died two years earlier in 1969 at the age of 83. Gone but certainly not forgotten, he was recently saluted as one of architecture's greats in a series of celebrations around the world commemorating the modern master on the anniversary of his 125th birthday, March 27th.
2400 Lakeview Apartments
 by: chicago designslinger

[2400 Lakeview Apartments (1963) Mies van der Rohe, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Herbert Greenwald was a young, up-and-coming developer in 1946 when he met recent German emigree and former Bauhaus director Mies van der Rohe, the head of the architecture program at the Illinois Institute of Technology. It was a pairing that would help reshape the residential landscape of Chicago architecture.

  [2400 Lakeview Apartments, 2400 N. Lakeview Avenue, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

After several apartment building projects and a productive partnership lasting 17 years, the 2400 Lakeview Apartments would be the pair's final adventure together. Forty-three-year -old Herbert Greenwald was killed in a plane crash in 1959 just as work was getting underway on the project, and although Mies would continue to work with Greenwald's successor firm Metropolitan Structures, the architect would never build another apartment building in Chicago.

  [2400 Lakeview Apartments, Lake View, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The structure was the result of a design program the architect had devised for his buildings which he fundamentally believed was an expression of the very essence of modern 20th century construction and design. While considered by some as one of the greatest architects in the history, not everyone was enamored with his clean-lined, meticulously delineated habitats. Mazzola Woods was not an admirer of Miesian minimalism, which Mr. Woods made abundantly clear in a 1964 Chicago Tribune profile. Woods hired the House of Raymond Jacques to frame the floor to ceiling windows with pilasters topped by lattice cornices and filled with white felt Roman shades. The flat, slab doors were wallpapered over to tie into the walls, and a large brass and crystal chandelier was hung in the dining area all in an effort to add some drama to an interior "devoid of architectural interest."
19 South LaSalle Street /Association Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [19 South LaSalle Street /Association Building (1893) Jenney & Mundie, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architect William Le Baron Jenney had designed a few groundbreaking buildings in Chicago by the time staff architect William Mundie's name was added to the firm's letterhead. When the Chicago chapter of the Young Men's Christian Association came to the architects offices in 1892 to see about a new building, the paint adding Mundie's name to the door had just dried.

  [19 South LaSalle Street /Association Building, 19 S. LaSalle Street, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

At the time the Y.M.C.A. was meeting regularly in the auditorium of the Farwell Building, (not to be confused with the Michigan Avenue Farwell) accessed through a former alleyway known as Arcade Place, marked today by an elaborate entry gate topped with decorative ironwork. So when the Association decided to build their own building, they simply chose a site across Arcade at LaSalle Street and gave the architect's a long list of their desired uses for their new home.

  [19 South LaSalle Street /Association Building, Central Y.M.C.A Building, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When the 14-story tower opened in 1893, the designer's had delivered. The interior included, among other things, a 2-story gymnasium, handball and tennis courts, a swimming pool, a 1,500 volume library, offices, and a large parlor behind the arched 2nd floor windows, trimmed in marble, mosaics, and mahogany, all for $900,000. The building was accessible to young men regardless of economic status or ethnicity, but as the Chicago Tribune stated, "this is no place for a young man addicted to coarseness. Beer, tobacco, cards, profanity and vulgarity are unknown quantities in this luxurious retreat."
The Central Y.M.C.A offered classes at the high school level as well as college courses, and later became a haven for those seeking a higher education but not having the financial wherewithal to do so. By the 1970s the building itself was worth far less than the land it stood on, and the Y purchased a smaller building in the Loop where they continued to offer classes but without the physical education component. Jenney & Mundie's building was sold and the tower was converted into office space, the La Salle Street entrance was closed-up, and the main entry was accessed through a cleaned-up Arcade Place.
Frederick J. Lange House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Frederick J. Lange House (1893) Thomas W. Wing, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In September of 1893 architect Thomas Wing let the final contract on a house he had designed for Frederick Lange and construction got underway on the $45,000, 3-story brownstone located on Deming Court, today's Deming Place. The rusticated stone, bay-fronted exterior was impressively enhanced with the addition of an impressive porch trimmed in a florid band of rinceaux ornamentation supported by four carved cushion capitals.

  [Frederick J. Lange House, 612 W. Deming Place, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]

The late 1890s and early 1900s were a busy and prolific time for Wing. He cranked out a number of apartment flats, from the small five room apartment above a storefront to buildings with 7 large, 10-room apartments. One of his best clients at the time was Mr. George V. Hankins, bon vivant, race track and horse owner, and notorious gambler. Hankins used some of his million of dollars in winnings to invest in real estate, and high-end real estate at that. Wing designed a building for Hankins once located at Michigan & 36th Street on Chicago's near south side, heralded as the city's most luxurious apartment dwelling. Built at a staggering cost of $275,000 in 1895, the 11-room apartments were fitted with beautiful hardwoods, marble bathrooms, mosaic tiles, fireplaces, hot water and steam heat.

  [Frederick J. Lange House, Arlington Deming Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Frederick Lange's didn't stay in the house long. The 20-room mansion with a third floor ballroom was sold in 1905 to Rudolph S. Blome for $25,000, and why Lange was willing to take $20,000 less than it cost to build the house is unclear. Blome was an up and coming concrete contractor who had married Miss Viola Dix in 1899, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Albert Breiting who lived further east on Deming, so he was familiar with the neighborhood. Apparently Blome got along so well with his in-laws, that not only was he willing to buy a house down the street from them but in 1906, he, Viola and Mrs. Breiting went on a several week tour of France, Italy and Germany together.
The Blomes left the brownstone mansion in the 1920s to take up residence on Astor Street in the Ambassador Hotel. The house was eventually purchased by the Brainerd family, sensitive custodians of Wing's turn-of-the-century handiwork for three generations.
Harris Trust & Savings Bank Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Harris Trust & Savings Bank Building (1911) Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Norman Waits Harris arrived in Chicago in 1882 after a successful 14 year career in the Cincinnati, Ohio working in the financial industry. He had just returned from a long tour of Europe and instead of returning to the Queen City on the banks of the Ohio River, he decided to start a bond brokerage house in the City of Big Shoulders along the shores of Lake Michigan.

  [Harris Trust & Savings Bank Building, 119 W. Monroe Street, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By 1907 N.W. Harris & Co. had sold over $700,000,000 in municipal bonds when the company was given a state charter to organize as the Harris Trust & Savings Bank, with Norman W. Harris ensconced as president. The company was the primary bond trader west of New York City, and Harris was ready to spread his wings into the ever expanding world of American capitalism. After getting the new operation up and running and making even more money, he hired the very prestigious architectural firm Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge in 1909 to design a building where he could house his burgeoning business enterprise. The heavy, marble sheathed, column-arcaded base with it's deep-set entry ways gave the building a substantial foundation to sit on, which you might say, was a nice visual statement declaring that this was a rock solid financial institution and a safe to put your money.

  [Harris Trust & Savings Bank Building /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In today's branded and marketed obsessed world, it's hard to imagine that we haven't always lived like this, but there was a period in history when branding was a relatively new concept. When Harris started out in Chicago he decided that a letterhead comprised of some elaborate script wasn't going to be enough to make him stand out from the crowd, so he joined the majesty of the king of the forest with the Harris name. Shepley and associates gave the company symbol a powerful presence on the bank's Monroe Street headquarters by including space for an 8x8 foot bronze bas-relief panel depicting a lion perched proudly on a rock, which was a bit more dramatic than the polished bronze lion's head on the door plates of Harris Co.'s previous offices in Holabird & Roche's 1895 Marquette Building. The lion became so identified with the Harris brand that 100 years after it first appeared, Leo is still maintains a prominent place in the institution's corporate identity.
William V. O'Brien House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [William V. O'Brien House (1894) Flanders & Zimmerman, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

At a time when a lot of upper-middle class housing was heavy with stone work and   classical details, architects Flanders & Zimmerman took a different approach in 1894 for client Martin O'Brien. The house almost feels like it might have come from the hands of an emerging Prairie School stylist, an early Frank Lloyd Wright perhaps from around the time he was working on the Charnley House with Louis Sullivan. The house was an unusual departure for the team who built office buildings and apartment flats that looked typical for the era. They never returned to this mode of design, which makes the structure all the more unique.

  [William V. O'Brien House, 426 W. Arlington Place, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Known as the William V. O'Brien house, the large, single family home was actually commissioned by Martin O'Brien, William's father. The elder O'Brien was a very prominent Chicago art dealer who had opened a frame and engraving emporium in 1855. O'Brien's frame shop went from emporium to art gallery in 1875 when he opened a new establishment next door to the old one on Wabash Avenue. When he asked Flanders & Zimmerman to design this Arlington Place house, O'Brien's Art Gallery was selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of art every year, and was considered one of the top sales galleries in the country for easy-on-the-eye pastoral settings and portraiture.

  [William V. O'Brien House, Arlington Roslyn Place Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

William started working with his father when he was 20 years old and continued on in the business after his father's death. Although Martin is recorded as having built the house, the William V. O'Brien's filled the society pages with all sorts of soirees and events listed as happening on Arlington Place, including the theft of $1,600 worth of Mary O'Brien's jewelry in 1902. The gallery sold what would be considered safe, conservative art, which apparently was also a reflection of the owner's personal taste as indicated by a comment William made in 1940. There was a storm of protest over the content and worthiness of the artwork created under Franklin Roosevelt's Depression-era WPA project and William O'Brien was one of the more outspoken critics. He was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as having "said that the WPA art movement is 'cock-eyed, full of tripe. The Communist element is strong in the project, most of it stinks.' "
By 1941 apparently a lot of people thought that the art the O'Brien Galleries represented stank as well. It wasn't keeping pace with the changing tastes of art world swirling around it and sales had been on the decline for over 15 years. The O'Brien's had moved from their Lincoln Park area home by the time William closed-up shop, and in the early 1920s new owners made a substantial change to Flanders & Zimmerman's design.  Originally the two front archways contained a window on the left and an opening on the right fronted by granite stairs which led onto a porch and the front door. The steps were removed, the architect's original window was pulled from the left side, and both openings were filled-in with the windows we see today.
Chicago Temple Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Chicago Temple Building (1924) Holabird & Roche, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The spire of the First Methodist Episcopal Church first rose up on the corner of Washington and Clark in downtown Chicago in 1845, the final time was when one topped this high-rise office building dedicated in 1924. The First United Methodist Church still calls the building home, and has worshiped on the site since moving a log cabin to the spot in 1839.

  [Chicago Temple Building, First United Methodist Church, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When the congregation first arrived with their log-walled structure 172 years ago,   Chicago's population numbered around 4400 people and the church was located in the heart of town. Eventually four churches were clustered in a two block stretch of Washington Street, the Universalists were right next door to the Methodists, while the Unitarians and Presbyterians were across the street. By 1857 the small town feel of the city was changing as the population grew and spread its wings out over the prairie, and the downtown churches started following their congregations out from the city center and into the neighborhoods. First Methodist stayed around because of a clause in the leasehold on their land. The family who donated the plot to the church in the 1830s stipulated that the property would remain in the Methodists hands as long as they remained on the deeded corner. So unlike the other churches who saw their property values rise as the area became the city's commercial core, sold and then used the income to move and build anew, First Methodist was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  [Chicago Temple Building, First United Methodist Church, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

To get the most out of their now valuable corner and still provide church services, an enterprising group of elders came up with an idea to build a new building that would contain commercial and retail space on the first two floors, with a two-story auditorium space above for meetings and worship. The rental income was to be used to build more church buildings in Chicago and provide financial support for area congregations. The building burned down in the 1871 fire and was replaced with a larger structure, which in turn was demolished to make way for Holabird & Roche's super-sized Chicago Temple Building. The plan was so successful that by the time the tower rose in 1923 rental income over the years had covered a portion of the construction costs of over 200 churches in the Chicago area.
The Gothic revival skyscraper almost didn't get built as planned. The city had a building height restriction of 260 feet at the time, and with the base of the tower rising to the allowable height the 140 foot spire didn't conform to code. The ordinance allowed setbacks based on a complicated formula of building mass, street frontage and lot size, but the spire overloaded the calculation. Needless to say - it got built anyway. In 1952, Myrtle Walgreen donated money to the church for a small chapel to built inside the framework of the spire in memory of her late husband Charles, founder of the chain of drugstores. The Guinness Book of World Records named it the tallest place of worship in the world, the highest in the heavens.
Blackstone Hotel, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Blackstone Hotel, Chicago (1908) Marshall & Fox, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

During his career and partnership with Charles Fox, architect Benjamin Marshall designed some of Chicago's most elaborately decorated building exteriors. He used the plasticity of terra-cotta to adorn his buildings like a baker piping out acres of ornamental icing on a cake. In 1908 when the team drew-up plans for the Blackstone Hotel, the red brick tower was trimmed in a sea of white-glazed, baked-earth tiles that looked like whipped confectioner's sugar.

  [Blackstone Hotel, Chicago, 636 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The hotel was built by the sons of John Drake a pioneer Chicago hotelier. Drake became famous as the man who took a chance, and with luck on his side, made one of the great purchases of a lifetime. As the Chicago Fire started to burn the awnings of Drake's 1850s-era Tremont House the hotel owner salvaged as much cash and silver as he could from the safe, squeezed the money into a wagon and headed for the safety of the lake's waters. There, looming in front of him on the corner of Congress Street, stood the recently completed Michigan Avenue Hotel. With a leap of faith, he walked in and offered the owner cash on the spot for the hotel and its contents. As the fire approached the shoreline the blast furnace of flames turned north and Drake's hasty purchase not only survived the inferno, but became the only downtown hotel to remain standing in the city's 2,000-acre burn district.

  [Blackstone Hotel, Chicago, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Soon after the fire, John Drake sold his Michigan Avenue property and became owner and manager one of the city's premiere hotels, the Grand Pacific. That hotel closed in April, 1895 and Drake died the following November. Jump forward to 1908, and Chicago sees one of the last remnants of the formerly opulent Michigan Avenue residential district disappear when Mrs. Timothy B. Blackstone vacates her 50 year old mansion. She left for another large house on elite Prairie Avenue because her house was going to be torn down and replaced by Drake's sons John, Jr. and Tracy's Blackstone Hotel. Soon the stopping off point of U.S. presidents, the opulent looking structure provided guests with luxury accommodations and a view of the lake. Unfortunately the Great Depression undid the Drake brothers, and they lost the hotel as a result of the financially devastating event.
The Blackstone became one of those "Oh, I remember when" hotels. Tattered, a little worse for    wear, in need of a redo, yet packed with history, in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the building became renowned as the venue for two of the city's longest running entertainment productions. The Jazz Showcase arrived in 1972 offering a devoted clientele a weekly dose of great music until 1995 when new owners took over the building. The theatrical whoddunit Shear Madness arrived in 1982, bringing 1.3 million people through the Michigan Avenue entrance before closing up shop in 1999 when the building was shut down by the city for having over 1,000 building code violations. The former grande dame of Chicago hostelries sat empty until 2005 when a $128 million update and rehab, with Marshall & Fox's swirls and swags cleaned and refurbished, launched the Blackstone into a new, bright and shiny future.
111 South Wacker Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [111 South Wacker Building (2005) James Goettsch, Lohan Caprile Goettsch, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architects Lohan Caprile & Goettsch's sleek high-rise filling the corner at Wacker and Monroe Street in downtown Chicago will someday be as identifiable as early 21st century as the building it replaced was considered iconic mid-20th century. Once the site of Perkins & Will's 1963 U.S. Gypsum Building, renowned for its notched corners and 45 degree angle, the building was the first modern skyscraper to be demolished in the city of Chicago. Abandoned and asbestos filled, the structure was torn down in the early 90s and the corner lot sat vacant until the new tower rose in its place in 2005.

  [111 South Wacker Building, 111 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Led by architect Jim Goettsch, the new 53-story building was designed to utilize the foundations of the old 18-story structure, and in an ingenious move Goettsch and his team incorporated a multi-level above ground parking garage into the lobby design. The garage ramp courses through the main entry level highlighted by a very dramatic ring of recessed lighting wrapped in stainless steel.

  [111 South Wacker Building, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

And if you look closely behind the glass curtain wall  as the building sweeps down to street level, you'll notice a V sitting on top of a ground floor post. That's where the architects and engineers solved the problem of carrying the weight of the new super-structure down and into the existing foundations below on 8 slender, stainless steel wrapped columns. An elegant marriage of engineering ingenuity and great design.
Marlborough Apartments, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Marlborough Apartments, Chicago (1923) Robert S. DeGolyer, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

If you're an investor developing an apartment building in 1923 for an upscale clientele, pick an aristocratic name like Marlborough and an architect who can design a building in keeping with the the pedigree of the name, and you have the beginnings of a superb marketing campaign geared for your target audience.

  [Marlborough Apartments, Chicago, 2600 N. Lakeview Avenue & 400 W. Deming Place, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architect Robert S. DeGolyer was very busy during the the 1920s turning out designs for one top drawer apartment building after another. DeGolyer's handiwork was sprouting up along the lakefront from the Gold Coast to the northern boundaries of Lincoln Park. His decorative choices were, well, eclectic to say the least. The man designed for his client, the site, and whatever historically correct architectural trend worked for the job at hand. At the Marlborough, DeGolyer chose Adamesque details, a style named for 18th century British architect Robert Adam, to finish out the exterior. It was an appropriate choice given that Duke of Marlborough built one of the most impressive houses ever constructed in Britain.

  [Marlborough Apartments, Chicago, Lake View, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The business of building the Marlborough provides an interesting insight into a particular form of financing and development for a particular type of building. The apartment house was built by Mr. W. G. Souders, president of the Marlborough Building Corporation. When the structure was completed and ready for occupancy, the building was purchased by 11 resident owners, including Mr. Souders, who then organized the Marlborough Building Corporation. The remaining 90+ apartments would be marketed and leased to a discreet and discerning group of renters with the income generated going to the corporation. The apartments facing Lincoln Park were large but not huge, although they did include a maids room off the kitchen. The apartments that surrounded an interior courtyard along Deming Street were smaller, but the building did offer dining room service for those who weren't interested in using their tiny kitchens. That service disappeared a long time ago, and although you could rent a Deming, courtyard-facing 1BR for $165/month, today the Marlborough is an entirely owner owned condo building.