Friday, February 20, 2015

Charles K. Miller House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Charles K. Miller House (1884) A.M.F. Colton, architect /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When Charles K. Miller built this house on State Street in 1884, he didn't have many neighbors. The area had recently been the site of the Catholic Cemetery, and with the dead disinterred and relocated, a prime chunk of Chicago real estate was opened for new development.

  [Charles K. Miller House, 1432 N. State Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Miller was in advertising. His firm served as a middleman between newspapers and clients who wanted to advertise in them. Miller & Co.'s territory covered the entire country, and for a while Miller ran the largest newspaper ad business concern in the nation. He did so well that in 1894 he retired and was a resident of 1432 N. State Parkway until his death.

  [Charles K. Miller House, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architect A.M.F. Colton's version of Queen Anne inspired design remained in the Miller family until 1947 when Loris Miller sold the house after his mother died, and the 9,000 sq.ft. structure was converted into a multi-unit apartment building. In 1964 plans were announced which called for the demolition of the house so a 25-story, 92-unit apartment building could be built on the large, double-lot site. Needless to say, that didn't happen. In March of this year the building was purchased for $4,985,000 by Chicago developer Steven Fifield, who must be spending a small fortune to fix up the place since he recently obtained a permit from the city's building department, "to remove and replace existing masonry facade to match. Remove and replace slate roof. Windows to remain."
Church of the Epiphany - Epiphany Episcopal Church
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Church of the Epiphany - Epiphany Episcopal Church (1885) Francis M. Whitehouse, Burling & Whitehouse, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Episcopal mission Church of the Epiphany had been organized by a small group of Chicago's near west side citizens in 1868. But by 1885 the membership had grown large enough, and financially secure enough, to commission architect Francis M. Whitehouse to design a new church building for them on a prominent corner at the intersection of the Ashland Boulevard and Adams Street.  

 [Church of the Ephiphany - Epiphany Episcopal Church, 201 S. Ashland Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1879 Whitehouse had joined forces with architect Edward J. Burling, a carpenter who came to Chicago in 1843 and was the second person in town to hang an "architect" shingle outside his door. When the west side Episcopalians asked the firm of Burling & Whitehouse to design their new church for them the office was busy with work and was widely known. Although the project was relatively small, the younger architect had a special connection with the local Protestant denomination since his father Henry John Whitehouse had once been the Episcopal bishop of Illinois. And when the building was completed, Francis included a panel in the altar reredos dedicated to the Bishop's memory.

[Church of the Ephiphany - Epiphany Episcopal Church, Wets Jackson Boulevard National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The church council asked for a design that was not "a monumental cathedral but a warm and devotional parish church," and Whitehouse delivered. The exterior was called "Norman" back in the day, but now is commonly referred to as having been designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, and the structure fit in well with its neighbors at the time. Several of the mansions that once lined Ashland Boulevard were built in a similar style and with the same Lake Superior sandstone. The bell tower, and its colonette cluster at the corner piers, was a later addition also designed by the architect.
The parish was well-to-do but not wealthy. The church struggled with its finances for decades, and in the financial panic of 1893 nearly went bankrupt, but with cash infusions from parishioners of means the church survived. Although membership today is nowhere near the 700 congregants who once filled church pews, Epiphany has changed with the times and provides services for the large number of immigrants seeking assistance at the Mexican Consulate located across the street. The sanctuary not only continues to be a place of worship, but also serves as a performance space for dance and music when pews are rearranged providing ample room for dancers and musicians.
Lytton's Department Store Building
 by: chicago designslinger

[Lytton's Department Store Building (1913) Marshall & Fox, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Henry C. Lytton's story is very similar to many of the merchants who turned Chicago's State Street into a retailing mecca at the turn of the 20th century. He started out with a small dry goods operation, which he turned into one of the city's major retailing enterprises. He called his store the "Hub" because Lytton wanted buyers to think of his emporium as the hub of merchandise. As the business became more and more successful, Hub's starting cropping up around the country that bore no relation to the Lytton empire so the Chicago name grew to, "The Hub" Henry C. Lytton & Sons Company.

  [Lytton's Department Store Building, 14 E. Jackson Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Lytton used his rising personal income to invest in real estate and was one of downtown Chicago's largest property owners and in 1911 he purchased a piece of land across the street from the Hub store building at Jackson and State Streets. He then asked architects Marshall & Fox to design an office tower with ground level retail space which Henry would lease out to tenants. Unfortunately for Henry, the entrepreneur did not own the land under the existing Hub building. He leased that piece of property from Frederick Otis, and when the time came for renewal, Otis was dead and his heirs wanted more money for a 99 year land lease than Henry was willing to give. So he simply moved the Hub into the first 8 floors of the new Lytton Building in 1913.

  [Lytton's Department Store Building, Loop Retail National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Lytton retired soon after and turned over the presidency of the company to his son George. When George died of a massive heart attack in 1933, Henry stepped back into the job as president at the age of 87. In 1946, when he turned 100 and was still running the company, the Board of Directors officially changed the name of The Hub to Lytton's. The old merchant was the last survivor of Chicago giants like Marshall Field, Montgomery Ward and Richard Sears, who had changed the city's, and the nation's, retail landscape.
Henry died 2 years after receiving the honor and Lytton's - the store - lasted until 1986. In 2008 DePaul University acquired the building as part of its ever expanding Loop portfolio, and in December of 2010 the school changed the name of the building to the Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Building. This name change was in honor of the couples service to the city during the Mayor's 22-year-term. Daley is an alumnus of DePaul's School of Law, as was his father, Chicago's 21-year-term mayor, Richard J. Daley.
Thomas A. Wright House, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

[Thomas A. Wright House (1888) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Standing in front the of the Thomas A. Wright house today, its hard to imagine that this section of south Michigan avenue was once lined with so many mansions that it vied with nearby Prairie Avenue as Chicago's Millionaires Row. When Wright built his house in 1888, neighbor and meat-packing king J. Ogden Armour, lived in a 10,000 sq.ft. mansion just half-a-block away.

  [Thomas A. Wright House, 3601 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Wright made his money as a member of the Chicago Board of Trade buying and selling options in wheat, corn and pig bellies. In 1909, Charles Gunther, king of a candy domain, purchased the house and lived there until his death in 1920. While Gunther's confections were well known throughout the city and the midwest, his real claim to fame came through an obsession with collecting odds and ends of historic memorabilia, his own version of Antiques Roadshow. He played a major role in bringing the infamous Civil War Libby Prison from Virginia to Chicago in 1889, stone by stone, and opening up a museum inside its reassembled walls to show off his assemblage of bric-a-brac. When the scheme didn't prove to be very profitable, Gunther built a large indoor auditorium/arena behind the prison walls and opened the Chicago Coliseum. Over the ensuing decades the enormous indoor meeting hall hosted many a political convention along with major sporting events, as well as Bronzeville's popular drag balls before being demolished in 1982.

  [Thomas A. Wright House, Black Metropolis - Bronzeville Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As the neighborhood changed the Wright/Gunther house spent a few years as a rooming house and a publishers office, eventually returning to its roots and becoming a home once again under the ownership of Ruth Toler, who lovingly preserved what was left of the original mansion. It's through her efforts and stewardship, and the love and care given to the house by its latest owners the Donnell family, that the imposing granite house has survived, virtually intact, to this day.
30 West Oak Street
 by: chicago designslinger

 [30 West Oak Street (2007) Booth Hansen, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As you look north up Dearborn Street on a bright sunny day with a brilliant blue sky, you can almost miss the 24-story building standing at the corner of Oak Street. Built in 2007 and designed by the architects at Booth Hansen, the tower blends almost seamlessly into the landscape.

  [30 West Oak, 30 W. Oak Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

For almost 80 years the corner had been occupied by the Harriet McCormick Memorial Y.W.C.A. building, a 12-story brick structure designed by architects Berlin & Swern. Although the "Y" wasn't as sleek as the curved glass condo tower sitting on the site today, it was unique. Like spokes on a wheel, four wings sprung out from a central core to the four corners of a rectangular base, which provided plenty of light and air for the 500 room facility. In 1972 the "Y" sold the building to the Illinois College of Podiatric Medicine, and for the next 30 years Chicagoans were able to get foot service at a reduced rate provided by the school's student podiatrists.

  [30 West Oak, Near North Side, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architect Laurence Booth must have liked the location, or the excellent views provided by the floor to ceiling windows, or just a good design generated by his office, because he moved into the building when it was completed. The floor plan divided each level into two apartments per floor coming in at about 3,000 sq.ft. per unit. Last year however Booth sold his 21st floor apartment to his neighbor, who apparently was looking to expand, and now owns an entire floor from east to west and terrace to terrace, with a spectacular view out over the city under brilliant blue skies.
Benjamin F. Ferguson House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Benjamin F. Ferguson House (1883) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Benjamin Franklin Ferguson was fairly well-off when he bought this Second Empire house on Chicago's near west side in 1884. B.F. worked in the lumber business  at a time when Chicago produced more board feet of milled and planed lumber than anywhere else in the world, and Ferguson benefited financially as one of the major players in the wood crafting business. Construction had begun on the large, single family home in 1883, but builder John Curran had run out of funds so Ferguson stepped in, bought the property, and finished the job.

  [Benjamin F. Ferguson House, 1501 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago /Images & Artwork: designslinger]

When he died in 1905, widowed and childless, he left $1.2 million dollars in trust to the city's major museum, the Art Institute. The money came with a stipulation that income from the trust be used for "the erection and maintenance of enduring statuary and monuments... in the parks, along the boulevards or in other public spaces," in the city that had brought him his good fortune. The trust was to be overseen by a committee made up of trustees of the museum who would select the artwork to be produced, and the site it would sit on.

  [Benjamin Ferguson House, West Jackson Boulevard National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Over the next 28 years 12 pieces were commissioned and erected across Chicago, some more popularly acclaimed than others, but all fulfilling the trust's mandate. That is until 1933 when the trustees, very quietly and under the radar, went to the Cook County Circuit Court and filed a petition to have the terms of the trust reinterpreted. Just what constituted a "monument" the museums lawyers asked. Could the term be applied to a building, especially if a monument is deemed enduring? The judge said yes. The museum needed space, and the Depression had wreaked havoc with funding so why not dip into the Ferguson Fund? Well, the new building didn't materialize until 1955, but the trustees used $1.6 million dollars of accumulated interest to help pay for its construction, and in a nod to the benefactor named the place the B.F. Ferguson Memorial Building. Lots of citizens were angry that the museum used the fund to help pay for a building, and an administrative office building at that, and all sorts of lawsuits were filed by various organizations, including the city. But since the Illinois Attorney General chose not to file suit, the courts threw out all the other complaints because the judges said only a case filed by the attorney general had standing. So that was that.
In 1961, as a result of the Ferguson Memorial Building action, the Illinois legislature passed a law requiring more transparency, oversight and citizen review before something similar could happen again. Ironically the trustees never built a statue of Ferguson, not that he would have ever wanted one, but there are 17 pieces of sculpture standing in the city today built with funds provided by Ferguson's initial bequest. A commemorative plaque was added to the back of the granite pedestal of first artwork ever created under the Fund acknowledging the benefactor's contribution to his city, but you can't see it any longer. In 1967 when the museum added a south wing, the Fountain of the Great Lakes was shifted from its original central position in the south garden, to the west facade of the new Morton Building. The commemoration now butts up against that wall.
Humboldt Park Field House & Refectory
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Humboldt Park Fieldhouse & Refectory (1928) Michaelsen & Rognstad, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1927 Chicago voters approved a $10 million bond issue which would help fund improvements and expansion of the city's west side park system. One of those improvements came to Humboldt Park in the form of a new field house and refectory. The word refectory found its roots in the Latin word reficere, and was used by monks to describe the dining hall of their monasteries. Universities used the term to to designate their communal dining rooms, as did fraternities, and the Park District used the word to describe any of their buildings containing a large hall that might be used for meal service. Although the open-span, interior room of architects Michaelsen & Rognstad's homage to Dutch architecture could be used as a dining hall, its primary purpose was to serve as an indoor basketball court.

  [Humboldt Park Field House & Refectory, 1440 N. Sacramento Boulevard, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Christian Michaelsen and Sigurd Rognstad also benefitted from the voters largess, and the park commissioner's faith in their work, because the team ended up designing a total of 12 buildings scattered throughout the city's west side park system. This building replaced a large, wood-shingled, 1890s-era structure which had served as the backdrop for thousands of speed skating events held during the winter on an ice covered lagoon. The field house still buzzes with activity, from basketball players to yoga practitioners, to couples celebrating their nuptials with a catered meal in the refectory.

  [Humboldt Park Fieldhouse & Refectory, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

There was a time when you could skate, or boat, from the field house to the nearby boathouse, but that ended when a path was created that divided the single body of water into two. I can remember, and this was a while ago, when you were able to come out of the arched arcade level of the field house and go straight into the water. And years later, when the water's edge was lined with tall reeds, making it hard to even see the lagoon water. So it was a nice surprise to find kids enjoying themselves, splashing around in the water, cooling off on a hot summer day, with Michaelsen & Rognstad's Dutch-treat in the background.
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.
311 South Wacker Drive, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [311 South Wacker Drive (1990) Kohn Pedersen Fox, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

There is something missing from this picture. Imagine if you will two 50-story towers running up the angled sides of 311 S. Wacker. That was the plan when the building was designed by architects Kohn Fox & Pedersen in 1990, but the economy and lots of unleased floor space in the completed 65-story structure put the kibosh on a trio-towered skyscraper.

  [311 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

One part of the original plan that did eventually see the light of day was the 6-story Winter Garden, an architectural device that was very popular back in those days of post-modernism. The problem of filling the building with tenants didn't have as much to do with too much space, as it did with bad timing. Conceived 5 years prior to its opening in a booming commercial real estate market, new high-end office space was in great demand. Plus the city of Chicago was working hard to revive the downtown core by encouraging new office projects along a stretch of Wacker Drive which was once a vibrant manufacturing and warehousing district that had seen better days, and was in need of revitalization. Unfortunately by the time 311 South Wacker was ready for occupancy, the economy was rocky and renters were hard to come by.

  [311 South Wacker /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

But, standing rather isolated at Wacker's southern edge, the 70-foot high drum crowning the top of the building became an instant landmark on the city's skyline, and a dramatic, sometimes derided, compliment to the dark, boxy, 110-story tower next door then known as Sears. Jump to 2010 and Sears has become Willis, and plans are in the works to build a glass tower next to the northwest facing diagonal corner of 311. The southwest facing diagonal will continue to overlook a parking lot for the foreseeable future.
Century Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Century Building (1916) Holabird & Roche, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Century Building stands, barely, with its Neo-Manueline decoration hanging on for dear life, hoping for a future that extends beyond its 20th century roots and far into the 21st.

  [Century Building, 202 S. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Century was finished and ready for occupancy in 1916, and was the period that dotted the end of a 7-building sentence which lined downtown Chicago's State Street, written by the architecture firm of Holabird & Roche. To decorate the exterior, the architects looked to Portugal and a late Gothic period named after the country's king, Manuel the First. Portuguese architects revived the style in the 19th century, and the Chicago designers added their own twist to the 16th century ornamentation. The 16-story high-rise was built by the Buck & Rayner Drug Store Company who put one of their stores on the ground floor, and leased the upper floor offices to doctors and dentists. Soon called the Twentieth Century Building, perhaps after one of the independent drug stores the Buck & Rayner syndicate owned, the name was shortened to the Century by the late 1930s.

  [Century Building, Loop Retail National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

And there it sat. A little worse for wear after years of coal-sooted, acid-filled air slowly ate away at its terra-cotta face, while still providing cover for small shop owners on the upper floors. The building was eventually purchased by Home Federal Savings and Loan, with a banking floor in the old drug store space at ground level and offices above. Then the Feds stepped in.
One of the Federal Center complex buildings sits directly behind the Century, and after 9/11 the government wanted to do everything they could to insure the safety of their property. They began purchasing adjacent buildings in 2003 and eventually landed the Century through eminent domain. How much longer the 20th-century structure will survive into the 21st-century is anyone's guess. But for now it's still standing, in all of its glorious, well-worn, Manulined splendor.
Consumers Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Consumers Building (1913) Mundie & Jensen, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Most of us assume that when we see a large building standing on a piece of land that the owner also owns the ground underneath, often that is not the case. So when druggist and real estate entrepreneur Jacob L. Kesner decided he wanted to build a commercial high-rise structure on a piece of State Street real estate in 1913, he had to lease three separate parcels of property to build one, cohesive building.

  [Consumers Building, 220 S. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

With 99-year ground leases in his pocket, Kesner hired the architectural firm of Mundie  & Jensen to design a 21-story, state-of-the-art office building. The architects sheathed the steel skeletal frame in a coat of gleaming white, glazed terra-cotta, which was in keeping with the fresh clean look of neighboring State Street structures, and a signature of their practice. Called the Consumer Building for Kesner's primary tenant the Consumer Ice & Coal Company, the name stuck, even after Kesner and the ice & coal wholesalers were long gone.

  [Consumers Building, Loop Retail National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Kesner eventually left the drug store business and built a large real estate empire which unfortunately collapsed in a sea of debt in 1938 when Kesner filed for voluntary bankruptcy claiming personal liabilities of $10 million. The building was owned by the Kesner Realty Trust, but the trust also filed for bankruptcy with $4 million in liabilities. The property passed through several owners before being acquired by the Federal government, whose Federal Center complex sits right behind the Consumer. The government has maintained Kesner's old building, but with a large redevelopment program in the works, the fate of Jenney, Mundie & Jensen's 95 year old project is in question.
Singer Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Singer Building, Chicago (1926) Elmer C. Jensen, Mundie & Jensen, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When the Singer Manufacturing Company built their Gothic Revival tower in 1926, the firm was at the top of the sewing machine business.

  [Singer Building, Chicago, 120 S. State Street, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The building was constructed on the site of an older Singer Building built in 1902. The 25-foot wide lot had one of the narrowest frontages along State Street, Chicago's main shopping district. As skinny as it was, the structure still provided the company with enough room for a Singer store on the ground floor, offices, storage space and workrooms on the floors above, with even enough room left-over for sewing classes which were offered to the public. Although not as wide as its neighbors, when the building was built, the neighboring facades were not as visually overwhelming as the 5-story graphic next door. And the former 11-story Fair Department Store building which stood across the alley, wasn't quite as massively reflective as today's Citadel Center. Still 25 feet doesn't allow much room for a grand architectural statement. But architect Elmer C. Jensen wasn't intimidated by the narrow site and gave the 10-story structure a vertical push by incorporating slim bands of windows rising up the building face, and a more commanding presence with Neo-Gothic ornamentation molded into creamy, glistening, glazed terra-cotta forms.

  [Singer Building, Chicago, Loop Retail National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The skinny tower almost didn't survive the city's 1979 malling of State Street because of the alleyway. When the street was closed to traffic, trucks needed access to the alley for deliveries to other buildings, so the Singer was to be sacrificed for a truck turn around, cum cul-de-sac. By then, the Singer's upper floors were vacant, and the ground floor was occupied by the Ferris Wheel Restaurant which provided the owners with enough income to pay the real estate taxes. For the city, the building was just in the way, but the plan to tear down Jensen's little gem was scuttled, and the Singer survived with the Ferris Wheel as a long-time tenant.
In 1984 a new owner proposed a $2.5 million renovation to be overseen by Hasbrouck Hendersen Architects. It wasn't until 1996 however that things really began to happen with the Gothic tower, when Hasbrouck Enterprises' Charles Hasbrouck, purchased the long-neglected building for $240,000. His company spent $3 million to renovate and convert the former commercial structure into nine, 2,100 sq.ft., floor-through condominium apartments, in the same spaces where Singer sewing machines once hummed.
Lucius B. Mantonya Flats
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Lucius B. Mantonya Flats (1887) Curd H. Gottig, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Although only three stories tall, 1325 N. Dearborn Street in Chicago has several interesting components - some you can see, some you can't. First, and most obviously, there are the Moorish arched windows, not a common sight around the city in 1887 when the building was constructed, or today for that matter. Then there are the names associated with this atypical looking 3-flat, the regal sounding Lucius B. Mantonya, original owner and builder, and the eccentric sounding Curd H. Gottig, the architect. Unusual nomenclature that fits perfectly with this eye-catching apartment dwelling.

  [Lucius B. Mantonya Flats, 1325 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Mantonya name had been passed down to Lucius from his Huguenot ancestors, and although we may think of Curd and its relationship to lemons, the name is not unknown in the architect's native Germany. There was a very famous German actor named Curd Jurgens who played the perfect villain in the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me. Mantonya apparently made a killing in his shoe and boot business because it provided him with the funds to invest in lots of Chicago real estate. His Dearborn Street building was one of a number of properties he owned along the avenue, and are known today as the Mantonya Flats. Flats was the term often used to describe a Chicago apartment building, and although old fire maps designate the structure as a "Flat" building in the 1920s, the mark given in the 1906 map was a "D" for "dwelling," indicating a single family home. And in the 1894 edition of the Chicago Blue Book, Tuesday was receiving day at Mr. & Mrs. L.B. Mantonya's home, 493 Dearborn, the building's address prior to the citywide street address re-numbering system begun in 1908.  

 [Lucius B. Mantonya Flats, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By 1909 the Mantonyas were living further down Dearborn in another one of Lucius' recently constructed properties. And by the 1950s, when this building was a multi-unit rental, the Mantonya was bracketed on either side by properties that had been converted into rooming houses as the Gold Coast neighborhood began a decline which had started during the Great Depression, and the Mantonya wasn't spared. Some Chicagoans may remember the many years that the building was covered under a layer of battleship grey paint. Today the paint colors on the unusual Moorish arched, keyhole windowed facade look much better than the drab military color, although it's interesting that the blue stripe which has been there for decades, still remains.
Boeing Corporate Headquaters
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Boeing Corporate Headquarters (1990) Ralph Johnson/Perkins + Will, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When partner and lead designer Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will oversaw a group of architects and engineers working on a new project in the late 1980s, they confronted a challenge, constructing a skyscraper over an active set of train tracks. Although building over train lines was nothing new, this site presented a unique problem - some of the structural members needed to support building would land smack in the middle of the tracks.

  [Boeing Corporate Headquarters, 100 N. Riverside Plaza, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

To solve the problem the engineers came up with a solution that called for a system of trusses that would cantilever, or hang, over the section of track where there was no room for train-blocking support columns. With that issue taken care of, the architects added a colonnade along the base of the box for moral support. Tenants may have been fearful of occupying a building that didn't look like it was being held up, the way we think a building should be held up. In a moment of whimsy, the designers also added a projecting slab that rose out the main tower and added a clock face to its flat sides. At 560 feet above street level, the clock has been called the tallest in the world.

 [Boeing Corporate Headquarters, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The building gained a bit of notoriety at the turn of the 21st century when Boeing, makers of airplanes and high-tech military equipment, decided to leave their Seattle home of almost 100 years and relocate their corporate headquarters to Chicago. The move was intended to create a new image for the older, established company in a new century. To be known as the Boeing World Headquarters, the choice of name and decision to move did not sit well with their world-wide employees, especially when word started leaking out about how much money executives were spending on their new offices.
After a series of scandals, which happened not long after after the moving in, which   included a military contract fixing conviction and an affair between the chairman and a subordinate, the new chairman and CEO named the building to a much less inflammatory Boeing Corporate Headquarters in 2006, which didn't seem to ruffle any feathers.
300 North LaSalle
 by: chicago designslinger

 [300 North LaSalle (2009) Pickard Chilton, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Although Mr. Trump's tower gets lots of press and thousands of pictures posted on the web, 300 North LaSalle, located just down the Chicago River from Trump Tower, shines just as brightly.

  [300 North LaSalle, 300 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Chicago's riverbanks have seen quite a transformation over the past 80 years. Once lined with brick warehouses taking in cargo from ships that docked along the river's edge. Today there are only a few of those old structures remaining, and all have been adaptively reconfigured for other uses. The site of architect's Pickard Chilton's tower once housed an undistinguishable 7-story brick warehouse, but the building burned to the ground in a dramatic fire in January, 1951. The next structure that rose on the site, in 1955, was a parking garage owned by the city, which became known as the "traffic court garage" since it was located directly across the street from an old warehouse that had been converted into offices and courtrooms for all those ticketed parking and moving violators. The garage wasn't much to look at, but it did have a kind of modern, mid-century, clean-lined vibe to it with its concrete parapet walls and open air slots.

  [300 North LaSalle, River North, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The architects paid homage to the old parking facility at the base of their building with an outline of materials and color reminiscent of the lower level of the former concrete auto park. From that river-nudging platform, a high-tech, Gold LEED-CS certified, gleaming glass and polished steel skyscraper towers over the waterline. Extra height interiors with floor-to-ceiling tinted panels, not only provide filtered natural light but stunning city views for the lucky employees who fill the building's 52 fully-leased floors. The structure achieved record status in 2010 when developer/owner Hines Interests sold their $450 million investment for $655 million, in a faltering real estate market no less, and set new high-price benchmark for a Chicago office building.
Harold Washington Library Center
 by: chicago designslinger

[Harold Washington Library Center (1991) Hammond, Beeby & Babka, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It took the Chicago Public Library 15 years to relocate its main branch from Sheply Rutan & Coolidge's 1897-era nod to Classical architecture on Michigan Avenue, to Hammond, Beeby & Babka's 1991 postmodern statement on State Street. During that decade-and-a-half, three quarters of the 8 million volume, publicaly accessible collection spent time "temporarily," housed in an old warehouse.  

 [Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Finally though, in the Fall of 1991, the Harold Washington Library Center opened to the public. The journey to get to this block-long plot of land on South State Street was long and arduous, but the architects gave the citizenry an instantly recognizable landmark.

  [Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The journey from Michigan Avenue to State Street began in 1969 when librarians alerted city officials that their grand Tiffany mosaic-lined, glass-domed structure was out-of-date and out-of-room.
A plan was proposed that called for tearing down the old building and constructing a new facility on the same site. But that scheme was filed away within a year for an alternative idea which called for incorporating the older building into a newly built facility. Then politics got in the way. After the turmoil of four mayoral administrations in a 7 year period, finally, in 1986, during Mayor Harold Washington's tenure, the Library Board, with city secured land in hand, floated a $175 million bond issue to provide funds for the new building, as well as the entire city-wide, library branch system. It took $144 million of those dollars to complete the central library, but unfortunately Mayor Washington didn't live long enough to see the facility completed, he died of a heart attack November 25, 1987 and the building was named in his honor.
Perry H. Smith, Jr. House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Perry H. Smith, Jr. House (1887) Cobb & Frost, architects (1991) addition and restoration, Hammond, Beeby & Babka, architects /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

On November 7, 1930 a letter arrived at 1400 N. Astor Street instructing the home's owner James Offield to pay a large sum of money to guarantee the safety of his daughter, who the writers threatened to kidnap unless Offield ponied-up the cash. Young Betty Offield's mother Dorothy was the daughter of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., so the real target was Grandpa who was one of the country's wealthiest citizens at the time. Nothing ever came of it, and in 1932 Betty's parents sent out an engagement announcement announcing their daughter's betrothal to James Hunt. The young debutante was now in line to inherit 1/10th of her recently deceased grandfather's multi-million dollar estate. But we're getting ahead of ourselves, the story of 1400 begins decades earlier with Mr. Perry H. Smith, Jr. the man who actually built the house on the northwest corner of Schiller and Astor Streets.

  [Perry H. Smith, Jr. House, 1400 N. Astor Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Perry H. Smith, Sr. had made a ton of money in railroads and real estate. He died in 1885 and left his widow, 3 sons and a daughter, over $2 million which was a lot of cash back in those days. In 1887, Perry Junior went to the offices of Henry Ives Cobb and Charles Frost and asked them to design a house for he and his family on a largely vacant, newly emerging Astor Street. Potter Palmer had recently constructed one the the largest houses in Chicago around the corner, and Smith was ready to follow Palmer into the Astor Street wilderness. In 1891, Perry's wife Emma, a member of Chicago's mighty McCormick clan, became ill and they decided that she needed to seek a cure in Europe and so the Smith's sold the house. The red brick mansion went through a number of owners before the Offield/Wrigley purchase, including Louise de Koven Bowen who purchased the house for her daughter in 1913. Mrs. Bowen lived just up the street at 1430, in one of Astor's larger abodes.

[Perry H. Smith, Jr. House, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Dorothy Wrigley Offield lived in her Astor Street home until her death in 1979 at age 92. Betty had died three years earlier in Pasadena, CA. The house went up for auction in 1983, and the gavel came down with a winning bid of $600,000. In 1991, architects Hammond Beeby & Babka did a very sensitive addition at the rear of the 15,000 square foot house, including the brick-wrapped turret that compliments Cobb & Frost's design so well that you'd never guess it was new.