Sunday, March 1, 2015

South-East Asia Center
 Schlitz Brewery Tied House Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [South-East Asia Center - Schlitz Brewery Tied House Building (1904/1908) Charles Thisslew, architect (1934-5) W.C. Presto, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 2001 Steve Jobs opened the first Apple store. Although his company had been selling computers for decades, he and a few board members decided that selling their product line in purpose-built, brand-designed locations might be good for business. It was. In 1898 Edward Uihlein vice-president of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company and the brewer's Chicago agent, decided to begin selling the "Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous" in purpose-built, free-standing, brand-designated, saloon-fronted, income-producing apartment buildings. It proved to be a very profitable move.

  [South-East Asia Center - Schlitz Brewery Tied House Building, 5120 N. Broadway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Uihlein was one of four nephews of Schlitz founder August Krug. After Krug's death in 1856 his bookkeeper Joseph Schlitz married Krug's widow Anna, and in 1858 the brewery's name went from Krug to Schlitz. While working for his aunt and her new husband, Edward decided to leave his brothers, who also worked at the Milwaukee plant, and settle in Chicago. In October 1871 the Milwaukee-based beer maker shipped hundreds of thousands of gallons of surplus beer to the city as soon they received word that Chicago was burning to the ground, which ended-up being a brilliant marketing maneuver. Chicagoans expressed their gratitude by becoming loyal Schlitz drinkers and the company's sales doubled. With sales soaring, Edward was appointed the brewer's Chicago-based agent in 1874, and Schlitz began focusing on using the city's nationwide, rail-connecting-network to get their product into as many consumers beer steins as possible. With business booming, Joseph and Anna Schlitz decided to take a break from their business and headed-off for a visit and vacation to to their Bavarian homeland. Unfortunately their boat, the SS Schiller, sank on May 7, 1875 and their bodies were lost in the deep ocean waters. The Uihlein boys inherited the Krug/Schlitz brewery business.

  [South-East Asia Center - Schlitz Brewery Tied House Building, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Chicago loved beer and Schlitz was a popular brand, but competition was stiff with 60 Chicago-based breweries cranking out 100 millions gallons of foam-topped malt every year. So in 1897 Uihlein hit upon an idea that might help the Schlitz brand stand out from the competition by building saloons that carried only Schlitz beer, and in distinctive looking buildings. At the time saloons sold liquid libations in locations that looked no different than any typical retail storefront. Uihlein figured that if Schiltz built handsome architect-designed buildings with the Schlitz logo embedded into the facade, it might attract consumers attention. And if you added a few apartment flats into the mix generating even more revenue, the expense might be worth the effort. The experiment proved profitable, and while other brewers followed suit, the Schlitz globe appeared on more building facades than other other brand.

  [South-East Asia Center - Schlitz Brwery Tied House Building /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Uihlein owned property on the southwest corner of Broadway and Winona Avenues in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood was one of the last to get a brand built building. It fit the prototype perfectly - a saloon on a corner lot with apartment flats above, and in this case a restaurant in the rear with a rental hall above it. Architect Charles Thisslew designed a handful of the Schlitz branded multi-purpose properties for Uihlein before the building campaign drew to a close. His Broadway Avenue project grew a few feet longer down Winona Avenue in 1908, and the Schlitz taps drew-up glasses of beer until Prohibition cut-off the flow of liquor in 1919. Although Edward Uihelin was dead by the time the liquor-banning Constitutional amendment was repealed in 1933, the Uihelin heirs still owned the corner property and hired architect William C. Presto to design a one story addition to the Broadway side of the corner lot which came with a rustic stone and timbered facade. The former Schlitz tied house became the Winona Gardens Restaurant, soon to be followed by Howey's Old World Inn offering an 8 course dinner starting at $1.75. Next came Charlie Thompson's Robinette where you could dine on "Chicken in the Rough." Then in the late 1950s Azuma House began offering "Authentic Japanese Food and Atmosphere" at the corner of Broadway and Winona Avenues. And in 1980 Chang and Sue Joung purchased Azuma Sukiyaki Restaurant - which held-on into the early 1990s. After sitting vacant for a number of years, the South-East Asia Center moved in, and although they do not offer food - or beer - the building, which has been declared a city landmark, still bears Edward Uihlein's Schlitz brand-identifying dimensional logo.
Scoville Square, Oak Park
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Scoville Square, Oak Park (1906/1909) E.E. Roberts, architect; (1982) John Vinci, restoration architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In case you hadn't heard, walking is good for you. And before other modes of transportation took us off our feet, people walked - a lot. Can you imagine anyone walking today from say Siberia to Oregon? Of course when early humans made that trek the land masses were a little more connected, but even well into the middle of the 19th century people used their feet for overland travel. Twenty-three-year-old James Scoville was one of those people, and in 1848 he came upon the site of what would be his future home while hoofing it from Chicago to Beloit, Wisconsin.

  [Scoville Square, 137 N. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, IL. /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

He'd come across a ridge that rose slightly above the flat plain about 10 miles due west of the city, and was so impressed by the change in landscape and the view, that he made a promise to himself to return one day. It took a few years, but return he did, and in the early 1870s built a grand Victorian mansion right at the top of the inspiring crest. He'd come back to Chicago not long after his sojourn to Beloit and parts beyond, began raking in the cash, and in 1856 used some of that money to buy-up large tracts of land around that bump in the landscape which is Mother Earth's way of letting you know that you're standing near one of North America's many continental dividing lines. His purchases were located in a tiny community known as Oak Ridge, which became Oak Park, and over the next 30 years Scoville became one of the early Chicago suburb's largest land owners and real estate developers. And by the time of his death in Pasadena, California in 1893, Scoville had amassed a large and generous income producing portfolio of land and building holdings.

  [Scoville Square, Ridgeland - Oak Park Historic District, Oak Park /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Scovilles had one child, a son named Charles who inherited not only his father's estate but also his penchant for making money. In 1905 Charles decided to improve a piece of property that he owned on the southwest corner of Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street, which stood directly across the street from the old family home. Scoville Block was designed by a prolific Oak Park-based architect named Eben Ezra Roberts. Although not nearly as famous as his neighbor Frank Lloyd Wright, Roberts' hand could be seen in commercial and residential projects scattered throughout the western suburb. While Wright made an identifiable mark on the streetscape with his signature style, Roberts' designs incorporated historically revived stylings.

  [Scoville Square, Oak Park, National Register of Historic Places /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Scoville's improvement would not only generate substantially more income for the wealthy real estate heir, but it also provided Roberts with the opportunity to prominently demonstrate his adaptation of the ever increasingly popular Prairie Style, or Style of the Midwest as it was known at the time. Scoville Block grew in size four years after it was completed in 1905 when a seamless addition - also designed by Roberts - was constructed to provide a meeting hall, lodge rooms, and offices for the local branch of the Masons. Then in 1917 William Y. Gilmore opened Wm. Y. Gilmore & Sons dry goods store in one of the ground level retail spaces. By 1930, the year that Charles Scoville died, Gilmore's had taken over almost the entire building and added a sleek, modern, visually unifying, black glass facade to the ground level storefronts. In 1976 Gimore's closed its doors, and after sitting empty for the next year-and-a-half the Village of Oak Park purchased the building in the hopes of saving it. In 1979 a developer bought the aging property from the Village, and after a $2.5 million renovation and restoration, the rechristened Scoville Square was opened to the public in 1982.
Theophilus & Joseph R. Noel Houses
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Theophilus & Joseph R. Noel Houses (1903 & 1905) Charles Thisslew, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As a young man Theophilus Noel wasn't sure what he wanted to do, but he knew it wasn't staying in school. So in 1855 the 15-year-old set out to make his fortune and found success selling encyclopedia's and "Audubon's American Fowls" which garnered $22,000 in commission sales in one year. He then set himself up in the publishing end of things in Galveston, Texas, but by 1861 was out of publishing and into real estate investing. Real estate brought him to Chicago in 1876 as the managing agent and representative of the Texas Land and Emigrant Association, and it was in Chicago that he really hit the jackpot, not in the land business, but in the patent medicine business, which made him a millionaire.

  [Theophilus & Joseph R. Noel Houses, 2118 & 2134 W. Pierce Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Proprietary, or patent, medicine first hit the shores of this country in the 18th century when pharmacists under Royal Patent of the monarch of England sold their medicinal concoctions in the New World. By the last two decades of the 20th century patent medicines were big business on the potions market, advertised as cure alls for all manner of ailments, and were often laced with cocaine or opium, which was entirely legal at the time. Bayer made cough syrup with a dash of heroin, and one enhanced formula packed alcohol, cannabis indica, chloroform, and morphine into every teaspoon full dose. Theophilus, now often referred to as Theodore, made one more career switch in 1883 when he tried his hand in the medicinal game offering customers his "Elixir Vitae." The powder became a pill, and by 1903 V.-O. Pills, "a concentrated compound extract of Vitae One Elixir" were generating around $450,000-a-year in sales. With the cash pouring in Noel and his son Joseph commissioned architect Charles Thisslew to design a house on Ewing Place in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, which would be conveniently located near their Vitae Ore Building offices on North Avenue.

  [Theophilus & Joseph R. Noel Houses, 2118 W. Pierce Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Theo and Harriet Noel's only child Joseph was born in Texas, but grew up in Chicago. In 1893, while attending Rush Medical College, his mother died in the family's Polk Street home, and during his internship in 1894 at a hospital in Canada his father remarried. Joseph came back to Chicago to began his practice, but in 1987, three years after his marriage to Alice Warner, he decided to join his father manufacturing the Vitae brand, and became the vice president of Theo. Noel Co. in 1900. Then in 1903 when the new house was finished, Joseph and Alice moved into what was then 63 Ewing Place (now 2118 W. Pierce Avenue), while Theo moved between Chicago, his home in Michigan, and Noel Manor in Santa Cruz, California. While all this was going on things weren't going well in Theophilus eleven year marriage. In 1905, the year that Elizabeth Noel filed for divorce, Joseph hired architect Thisslew once again to design a new home for he, Alice and their two daughters one house over from the 2-year-old Noel dwelling. And to top-it-all-off, 1905 was also the year that Joseph started a banking enterprise on North Avenue, two blocks from his Ewing Place address and located near the offices of his father's company. It was an action-packed Noel year.

  [Theophilus & Joseph R. Noel Houses, 2134 W. Pierce Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The silhouette of the house at 73 Ewing Place (now 2134 W. Pierce Avenue) looked very much like Thisslew's design two years earlier. But the architect changed some of the decorative detailing, and instead the rounded arch over the front porch entry of the previous house, he gave Joseph squared corners. The former limestone faced Noel dwelling became home to two new families, the William Muellers and the Henry Weinhardts, while the creator of the vitae elixir, sans wife, moved in with his son. The Noels stayed at their Ewing Avenue address long enough to see the house number change to 2134, but not long enough to see the name change from Ewing to Pierce. They moved to South Grove Avenue in Oak Park in 1912 as Joseph's banking business grew and the elixir business faded into the background. In 1905 a very public campaign against "snake oil" medicines began when the Ladies Home Journal, and then Collier's Magazine ran a series of articles debunking the claims made by patent proprietors. In 1906 the U.S. Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act which created the modern day Food and Drug Administration, and pretty much killed this version of miracle cure products. In 1940 the Association House of Chicago, of which Joseph Noel was a board member, purchased the house at 2134 W. Pierce Avenue, which is now a multi-unit condo building.
Waterman Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Waterman Building, Chicago (1920) Holabird & Roche, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

If you ever find yourself wandering down State Street in the vicinity of Chicago's Palmer House Hotel, you may notice a storefront next door to the 1920s-era hotel that looks like something out of the Deranged Manual of Design. It wasn't always that way. When the place was built in 1920 architects Holabird & Roche's retail and loft building was a handsome addition to the street, and a modern compliment to the old, post-fire Palmer hotel which was still standing at the time.

  [Waterman Building, 127 S. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The building was designed with a specific client in mind, the L.E. Waterman Company, manufacturers of fountain pens. Before ball points, Sharpies or smart phones, many people wrote with a pencil, or if you could afford it, a fountain pen. The notion that you could use a writing utensil without having to dip a quill into a bottle of ink was revolutionary, and Louis Edson Waterman figured out how to make ink flow directly to the nib via ink-filled cartridge enclosed within the writing instrument. He opened his Ideal Pen Company in New York in 1884 while his brother Elisha came out west and set-up a sales desk in the back of the Congregational Bookstore on Chicago's Wabash Avenue. The pens were immensely popular, and after renting several downtown Chicago business locations the Waterman Company decided to build from scratch and chose the site of a 6-story post-fire building on State Street.

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

Holabird & Roche's design topped-out at 7 stories, with an elaborate ground floor storefront decorated in some 500 shades of encaustic mosaic. Once you passed through the doors and into the store shoppers entered into an exquisite retail showroom that rivaled the interior of Waterman's flagship location in New York City. The upper floors were designed to be used as pen assembly and stock rooms, and the architects provided astonishingly wide, natural light producing window spans outlined in slim, Gothic-inspired, decorative terra-cotta. In 1925, soon after Waterman's opened their State Street location, a big change occurred along the adjoining brick party wall when the old 7-story hotel was demolished and Holabird & Roche's new 25-story Palmer House began construction. The new building towered over, and nearly gobbled-up, the 7-story Waterman Building. Then in 1938, with fewer pen sales due to the Depression and stiff competition from other pen makers like Parker, Sheaffer and Eversharp, Waterman's no longer needed their showroom and workspace on State Street, so the company signed a lease for space in a building around the corner on Adams and Wabash Streets.

  [Waterman Building, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the time the Three Sisters women's clothing store moved into the former Waterman salesroom in the 1940s, the desire by subsequent retailers to keep-up with the times and modernize, had begun to take their toll on Holabird & Roche's multi-colored encaustic storefront. The ground level was reworked into a sleeker two-story, limestone trimmed facade that mimicked the design of the neighboring Chandlers Shoes and Baskin mens stores. Then in the 1950s another reconfiguration of the lower two floors was accompanied by a large enamel-paneled sign board that provided the background for immense red, neon-lined lettering, which devoured two more floors of the original design. Finally, after the Beef & Brandy Restaurant moved-in in the late 1960s, white vinyl siding with plant-on windows framed by vinyl shutters was plopped-on to the second floor - an interesting choice that looks like it was made out of leftovers from a suburban developer's "Colonial" model home - while the ground floor was given a modernizing redo of curved glass, shaded by the existing burgundy awning.
1534, 38 & 40 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [1534, 38 & 40 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago (ca. 1878-1890) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Hemmed in between a 1970s high-rise and a 21st century school building are three survivors from Chicago's early Gold Coast history. Up until the 1950s the buildings on either side of 1534, 38 & 40 N. Dearborn Parkway looked very much like this extant trio. To the north, or left hand side of the picture, stood another large single family home followed by three conjoined extra-large single family dwellings. To the south, or left hand side, was a group of late 19th century single family townhouses. As time marched on and many of the old homes were converted into rooming houses, in 1955, the buildings north of the ochre-toned townhouse still standing at 1540 N. Dearborn were demolished and replaced by a women's residence called the Parkway Eleanor. Then in 1977 the row of townhouses that once stood directly to the south of the remaining cluster were demolished and replaced by the existing multi-storied, concrete-framed apartment building.

  [1534 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago/Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When 1534 N. Dearborn Parkway showed-up on the scene around 1878, Dearborn was just an Avenue and the building address was No. 602. And it didn't have the recently added third floor mansard-roof addition, but did include a decorative iron rail that added a bit of flourish to the top edge of the porch roof. Ten years before No. 602's arrival, Dearborn Avenue still looked over the last bits and pieces of the Catholic Cemetery. Even before the fire of 1871 had cleared the area of its few standing buildings, the city had begun the process of relocating the dearly departed from the two adjacent burial grounds to parts further away from the rapidly expanding town. After the fire had wiped the slate clean, a few brave souls began constructing houses on the west side of the street as bodies were removed from the cemeteries and reinterred elsewhere. No. 602 followed in the tradition of its few Dearborn neighbors reflecting the popular taste in Italianate bracketing and bays, and was occupied by one of the owners of the shoe manufacturing concern of C.H. Fargo & Co. - Samuel Meeker Fargo and his family.

  [1538 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago, Gold Coast /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

1538 was No. 604 when it was built. The dark-red rusticated-stone house with its Richardsonian Romanesque inspired arched entryway is the youngest of the three, having shown-up on the scene as the 1880s turned into the 90s. Although the same 25 feet width as its wall sharing neighbor to the south, the house was more prominently aggressive in appearance. This was where J.S. Barnes a men's hat manufacturer lived with his family. Barnes had started-out selling more than just hats in the old Tribune Building on Madison Street. Barnes & Co. once sold "ladies and gents water proof celluloid collars and cuffs in all fashionable shapes" among other mens and womens fashionable accessories. But by the time he built his Dearborn Avenue dwelling, it was men's hats all the way, and popular house styles along his street had changed as well.

  [1540 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The yellow-ochre, rusticated-stone structure at 1540 was built after its Italianate neighbor at 1534 but before the wall-sharing brownstone at 1538 squeezed itself in between. This mid-1880s addition to the block was occupied by the Truman Penfields, at what was then No. 606 Dearborn Avenue. The Penfield household not only included Truman and his wife Sarah Gaylord Penfield, but also relatives Miss Helen Starr and Mr. Truman Gaylord. In 1884 thirteen-year-old Truman - Gaylord not Penfield - came to Chicago from the Gaylord family homestead in Shelby, Michigan to live with his aunt and uncle while attending Alden Academy. He went then went back to his home state to attend the University of Michigan to study electrical engineering, came back to Dearborn Avenue in 1892, and at the ripe old age of twenty-one went to work as the manager of the subway and underground construction for the World's Columbian Exposition. When he wrapped things up at the World's Fair, he moved over to the Armour Institute and became an associate professor in the electrical engineering department. Then with the arrival of the 21st century one more change came to the upper portion of the 1500 block of North Dearborn Parkway. The Eleanor Foundation sold their prime corner lot to their neighbor the Latin School. The educational institution tore down the 1950s-era building and built a 5-story state of the art learning facility which the owners of the adjacent property at 1540 claimed caused their 120-year-old house to shift and sink a bit.
Garland Building
 by: chicago designslinger

[Garland Building (1915/1923) Christian A. Eckstorm, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1887 the City of Chicago was on the hunt for a location to build a library, and city fathers had set their sights on a site located at the eastern edge of the downtown business district on Michigan Avenue. However not everyone was on board. A group of concerned citizens argued that no government entity had the right to take possession of Dearborn Square as the site for the new public library, or any other building for that matter. In 1839 a map was drawn with the following words written smack in the middle of the blank space of the future park, "Public Ground forever to be remain vacant of Buildings." But by 1887 the city, the state, and the federal government had other ideas for the small, half-square-block plot of land bordered by Randolph and Washington Streets on the north and south, Michigan Avenue on the east, and Dearborn Place on the west.

  [Garland Building, 111 N. Wabash Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Perhaps as a sign that the decision had already been made to turn the now forlorn looking park into a construction site, the city changed the name of the street on the park's western edge from Dearborn Place to Garland Place. The Detroit-based Michigan Stove Co. had purchased a building on the southwest corner of Washington Street and Dearborn Place in 1885 across from the park, and dubbed their new acquisition the Garland Building, named for their biggest seller the Garland Stove and Range. At the time that the stove manufacturing company opened their new showroom and warehouse in Chicago, Dearborn Place wasn't much more than an alleyway, and the park had been neglected and looked a little worse for wear. Three businesses still had addresses listed along the narrow passageway, but other than that, no one paid much attention when the city changed the name to honor a popular kitchen appliance.

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

Michigan Stove stayed in their building for just 2 years before moving to a much more manufacturing friendly neighborhood outside the downtown district. The Garland name stayed attached to the building until John Drake of hotel fame purchased the property in 1894 for $300,000, now the site of the Pittsfield Building. Twenty years after Drake bought the Garland Building and dropped the name, James Heyworth of the real estate firm Heyworth & Graham hired Chicago architect Christian Eckstorm to design a building for a piece of property Heyworth owned at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Wabash Avenue, across the street from the old Garland locale. Heyworth reclaimed the Garland name for his Garland Place investment, and Eckstorm got to work on a 16-story, u-shaped tower.

[Garland Building /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Even with the advent of much improved and much better interior lighting options in the first quarter of the 20th century, big buildings masses still required old-fashioned ventilating systems for interior office spaces - windows. This was a time before air conditioning, and one of the major challenges for architects was how to get fresh air into large, lot-filling commercial structures - a very important requirement, and much needed during the summer. So although a building might occupy and large chunk of land, the structure itself could not gobble-up every square inch of property since allowances had to be made for windows that pedestrians would never see. Architects often hid their ventilation-providing set backs and interior light and air courts behind massive, solid-looking facades, but every once in a while a designer would choose to put the much needed cut-ins right-out in front. Eckstorm chose to expose his u-shaped plan by turning it out toward a very busy Washington Street for all the world to see. He had started-out in Chicago in the office of noted Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb, and had designed a number of commercial high-rise towers and small-rise warehouses since starting his own firm in 1902. Heyworth's investment proved so profitable that the building grew by another six floors in 1923 to 21-stories. And although the building was known by its 111 N. Wabash Avenue address for a number of years, it is once again the Garland Building, with its 220-foot facade towering over the former Chicago Public Library Building - and Garland Court.
Mandel Brothers Warehouse & Stable
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Mandel Brothers Warehouse & Stable (1903) Holabird & Roche, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Delivery systems. They've been around in one form or another for as long as we've been transporting something from here to there. As Chicago's Mandel Brothers Department Store grew in size and scope, the State Street based company decided that a more efficient way to deliver product to customers outside of their Loop location was to build small storage facilities in outlying neighborhoods. They weren't the only downtown retailer to make such a decision, but they did get one of the city's premiere architectural firms to design the very low profile project for them.

  [Mandel Brothers Warehouse & Stable, 3234 N. Halsted Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Solomon Mandel's brothers joined their sibling in his dry goods business in 1865, a retail operation that Solomon had started in a small storefront with his uncle in 1855. By the time the Mandel organization asked the very busy office of Holabird & Roche to design a warehouse and stable building for them on city's north side in 1902, Mandel Brothers had grown into one of Chicago's major retailers. The project wasn't the first time the architects had teamed-up with the retailers, and it wouldn't be the last. The Mandel account provided a steady income stream for the architectural firm, so when the brothers came calling no job was too small, even for an office that generated around $3.5 million in billings in 1902.

  [Mandel Brothers Warehouse & Stable, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the time the ball got rolling on construction in 1903, Mandel Brothers had been through several months of labor strife. A newly organized group of horse team drivers had formed a union and called a strike against some of the largest deliverers of goods in the city. The work action threatened the financial well being of the city's largest wholesale dry goods companies, as well as Chicago's seven major State Street retailers. The merchandise so integral to these businesses survival not only had to be transported to customers in and around Chicago, but from massive warehouses to the core of the nation's transportation system - the city's train yards. As the 2-story Mandel warehouse and stable building rose-up on the corner of Halsted and today's Aldine Street, labor and business signed an agreement. On June 17, 1903 the Chicago Tribune reported the 850  member Teamsters local had signed an agreement that garnered a pay increase to $12/week for the first six months, $14/week for the next six months, then to $15, and finally to a $18/week after 2 1/2 years of service - plus two weeks paid vacation. It also guaranteed that if a driver left one company for another, he would not lose his seniority and pay, and the driver would therefore not be penalized for changing jobs.

  [Mandel Brothers Warehouse & Stable /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The deal also meant that the teamsters who operated out of Holabird & Roche's nicely detailed, 2-story brick warehouse would no longer have to clean the first floor stables, the horse's harnesses, or polish the brass fittings. Employers would now have to furnish drivers with their caps and coats, when required, and most importantly for the business signatories, no driver could strike in support of another labor organization's action. So by the time that the very handsomely appointed building was ready for occupancy, the Mandel Brothers regional delivery system had drivers ready to deliver. In the following decade the horses were replaced by horseless carriages, and by the 1920s the building had outserved its original purpose. It continued to warehouse all manner of goods and businesses over the intervening years, and was repurposed into 13-units of condominium loft-style housing in the mid-1990s.
Riviera Theatre, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Riviera Theatre (1918) C. W. & George L. Rapp, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

After doing research on an almost daily basis for the past four years, you come to expect that certain pieces of information about a particular building will to be easy to find and verify. Especially when you're researching a building that is fairly well known and listed in a number of guide books and architectural surveys. The Riviera Theatre, and its attribution to brothers and architects C.W. and George L. Rapp, is a case in point. The theater, once operated by Chicago's famous Balaban & Katz movie exhibition chain, has been credited to the Rapp brothers, who with Balaban & Katz's money, created some of the most phantasmagorical motion picture palaces the world has ever seen. And although it is well documented that Balaban & Katz didn't build the Riviera, no contemporary accounts of the time mention the Rapps as the designers of the theater even though they, and the theater, received lots of attention.

  [Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The association between the architects and brothers Barney and A.J. Balaban and Sam Katz began when the exhibitors called on the Rapps to design a movie theater on Chicago's west side called the Central Park - Chicago's first motion picture palace. On March 11, 1917, the year that the Central Park opened to much fanfare, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mr. Tom Chamales had received a $50,000 loan from Chicago Title & trust Co. on a piece of property located at the southwest corner of Lawrence and Broadway. He returned to the financial institution the following month for another $65,000 for a term of three years at 6% interest for the same 150' x 150' corner lot.  Chamales was already carrying an incumbrance of $275,000 on a plot of land for the construction of a hotel, ground floor stores, and a theater building. With construction underway, in September of that year, Chamales signed a lease with Chicago film exhibition chain Jones, Linick & Schaefer for a term of 10 years at $25-grand per annum. But Jones, Linick & Schaefer didn't make it to opening night because as the building complex was nearing completion, Chamales - who also owned the Green Mill Gardens directly across the street on the northwest corner of Lawrence and Broadway - drew up a new lease for the theater space in July, 1918 with one Mr. Lawrence A. Smith. But this time around the agreement ran for a term of 15 years at $25,000/year, with an option for two extensions of five years each at the same rental. So although Jones, Linick & Schaefer were now out of the deal, the Smith lease which was to begin on August 1, 1918, extended Chamales' potential cash flow for a comfortable income producing 25 years. But still no mention of the Rapps.

  [Riviera Theatre, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

With the Central Park under their belts, Balaban & Katz made another big splash when, in November 1917 - just two months after the Jones, Linick & Schaefer deal had been signed with Chamales - Barney & A.J. Balaban announced that C.W. and George L. Rapp would be designing another B&K theater, only this time on the north side of the city in Uptown. B&K wanted to establish a presence in a market dominated by two chains: Jones, Linick & Schaefer and the Ascher Brothers. To let the competition know they were serious about their move into new territory, they were even going to one-up themselves and outbuild the Central Park by constructing the largest theater in Chicago, and enter the north side market with a bang. Based on the Rapp's design of the Central Park, the new $750,000 building - located on a 150' x 150' lot at the corner of Lawrence and Sheridan Road just a few blocks east of the Chamales project - would have a 5-story high theater seating 3,500 people, ground floor retail space for 10 stores, and a 100-room hotel. Balaban & Katz's proposed project was identical to Chamales' multi-purpose project - only much bigger.

  [Riviera Theatre, Uptown Square National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

But B&K never built on the corner of Lawrence and Sheridan, while down the street, on August 3, 1918, two days after the Chamales/Smith lease was to take effect, Balaban & Katz's Central Park Theatre advertisement for the screening times of Pauline Frederick in "Her Final Reckoning" contained a small notice at the bottom that read, "Will Open Soon - Our New Riviera Theatre - Broadway & Lawrence." So in the end the 1,900-seat Riviera became the first north side location of the B&K chain, the design of which would be attributed to C. W. & George L. Rapp. Yet, with all the publicity and notice surrounding the construction and debut of the Riviera, and the publication of other work done by the Rapps at the time, there is no mention of the brothers in relation to the Riviera. Not in the Tribune, the Chicago Daily News, the Architectural Record, Inland Architect, the Economist, Building & Construction, or The American Contractor. Between March 1917 and September 1918, a number of Rapp projects receive attention, including a $200,000 theater project they were working on at 4717 S. Ashland Avenue, around the same time of the Riviera's construction. So why no mention of the Rapps and the Riviera in major publications of the time? Just one of those interesting discoveries you find, or don't find.
Northwest Tower Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Northwest Tower Building (1929) Perkins, Chatten & Hammond, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It was heralded as the tallest commercial building outside of Chicago's downtown Loop business district. At 190 feet from the sidewalk to the top of the spire, the Northwest Tower did indeed tower over its neighboring buildings which stood, uniformly, no higher than three or four stories. The much taller 12-story tower also stood at one of Chicago's multi-cornered triangulated intersections. North Avenue ran on an east/west axis, Damen Avenue crossed over from north to south, and Milwaukee Avenue provided the dissecting diagonal. It was a prominent corner perfectly suited for a prominent building.

  [Northwest Tower Building, 1608 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The tower replaced a 3-story building which had filled the triangular plot from lot line to lot line, and made its own pointed architectural statement with a projecting, rounded corner bay that hovered over the sidewalk. The Milnoro Building was built in the late 1880s, and for 15 years, from 1905 until 1920, was the home of businessman Joseph Noel's banking institution. In 1928 Noel decided it was time to do something with the old Milnoro property, gathered together a group of business associates, and formed a building corporation to undertake the construction of the Northwest Tower. The name came easily. It stood on the northwest corner of the intersection, was on the northwest side of the city, and with its height, would become the visual beacon on the city's northwestern skyline.

  [Northwest Tower, Wicker Park/Bucktown, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The group hired architects Perkins, Chatten & Hammond who set to work laying out plans for a 12-story, Art Deco enhanced, triangular-shaped office building topped-off by a 7-story decorative tower, which in turn was capped-off by a copper encased spire containing a light beacon displaying a variety of colors. Dwight Perkins was the senior member of the team, having secured his reputation 30 years earlier as one of the original Prairie School designers. In 1894 Perkins designed a building for the Steinway Piano Company in downtown Chicago. Steinway Hall not only served as a showroom and local office for the New York-based piano manufacturer, but contained a concert hall, and on the 11th floor a suite of offices that at one time or another housed not only Perkins but other Prairie practitioners like his cousin Marion Mahoney, along with Frank Lloyd Wright, Robert Spencer, Walter Burley Griffin, Myron Hunt, Irving and Allen Pond, Hugh Garden, and Frank Lloyd Wright's one-time partner Webster Tomlinson.

  [Northwest Tower, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1905 Perkins was appointed chief architect of the Chicago Public Schools, where he incorporated some of his Prairie Style concepts into the design of a number of the city's public schools. By 1910 certain School Board members weren't happy with Perkins unwillingness to award contracts to politically connected contractors, so they charged him with incompetence, insubordination and extravagance. He fought back, demanded a trial, and was cleared of incompetence and extravagance, but found guilty of insubordination. In 1927 at the age of 60, and after a 17 year partnership with architects John Hamilton and William Fellows, Perkins, now deaf, joined the firm of Melville Chatten and Charles Hammond who had been practicing together since 1907. To honor his stature and reputation in the profession, his new partners added Perkins name at the front of the line.
1201 N. Astor Street Apartments
 by: chicago designslinger

 [1201 N. Astor Street Apartments (1909) Marshall & Fox, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

You won't find this rather elegantly sedate 3-story apartment building on the northeast corner of Astor and Division Streets listed in guide books or architectural surveys. Located at the southern edge of Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, the structure, with its charming terra-cotta columned Georgian entryway, could be located in any number of communities around the city filled with thousands of decoratively appointed apartment houses constructed in the early part of the 20th century. But there is something somewhat notable about the structure - it was one of the first multi-unit dwellings designed by a pair of architect/designers who would soon become very well known for producing some of the city's top-drawer, upscale apartment buildings.

  [1201 N. Astor Street Apartments, 1201 N. Astor Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

An innately talented designer and an architect with a firm understanding of construction and structure, Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox formed a business partnership in 1905. Marshall was born in Chicago in 1874 and came from a prosperous family. He attended the prestigious and socially well-connected Harvard School, after which he found work as an office boy in the architectural offices of Marble & Wilson. In 1895 two years after Marshall joined the firm, Marble left, and the young apprentice was made a partner. Fox was not a native Chicagoan. He'd been born in Reading, PA. in 1870, went to MIT, came to Chicago in 1891, and found work at the firm of Holabird & Roche. Marshall meanwhile went off to Europe to soak in the culture while Fox worked studiously on the innovative steel construction that would help make Holabird & Roche one of the city's most successful firms. When Marshall returned from his European sojourn he started his own firm, and in 1905 Charles Fox left Holabird & Roche, joined Benjamin Marshall and the pair founded the firm of Marshall & Fox, which would last until Fox's death in 1926.

  [1201 N. Astor Street Apartments, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In October 1908 when the Chicago Tribune announced that they were designing a new 6-unit apartment building for W.M. Morrison at Astor and Division, the office was also busy working on a new hotel for the Drake brothers on the site of Timothy Blackstone's old Michigan Avenue mansion, as well the Maxine Elliott Theatre in New York City. They also had another small Diversey Avenue apartment building project on the drafting table, which was published in the October 1908 issue of Architectural Record. Then, starting in 1911, in rapid succession, came the apartment projects that would add even more luster to the designers portfolio: 999 E. Lake Shore Drive; 199 E. Lake Shore Drive; and 1550 N. State Parkway.

  [1201 N. Astor Street, Astor Street Historic District /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Morrison's real estate investment on the edge of Chicago's mansion-packed Gold Coast neighborhood was atypical for the area north of Division Street. There were a few apartment house scattered hither and yon - one of the first ever constructed in the neighborhood stood right across the street, designed by none other than Holabird & Roche in 1897. But Morrison was willing to bet that if he gave people large floor plates with 8 to 10 rooms and kept the number of units to a minimum, he'd be able to fill his 6-flat building with socially registerable people. And he did. The year after the building was completed, the 1910 edition of the Chicago Blue Book included all six apartments and their inhabitants. And in 1912, Marshall & Fox's 12-story, steel-framed Stewart Apartments would rise just down the street at the corner of Division and Lake Shore Drive, providing massive, many-roomed, floor-through apartments for ten very lucky cooperative families. By the 1970s Morrison's smaller project stood forlorn and mostly vacant. Many people strolling down Division Street in those days couldn't help but notice the old, yellowed and water-stained, linen roll-down shades covering every window. They looked like they hadn't been opened in decades. But today the building has been spruced-up, refurbished, and provides housing to a handful of lucky Marshall & Fox dwelling condominium owners.
Alonzo M. Fuller House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Alonzo M. Fuller House (1890) Frederick W. Perkins, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Frederick W. Perkins was a Chicago based architect who had a very lucrative and productive career - yet most people have never heard of him. Even so, Perkins was one of the city's socially registered go-to architects at the close of the 19th century and first quarter of the 20th. And for those who may be wondering, he was not related to the more famous and achitecturally recognized Dwight Perkins. This Perkins designed homes and investment properties for some of the city's bigger big wigs like Joseph Leiter, son of Chicago retail and real estate tycoon Levi Leiter. F.W. Perkins designed Chateauesque style mansions for Philip Armour on Prairie Avenue and John Shedd on Drexel Boulevard. The Lake Forest house Shedd had built for his daughter and son-in-law Charles Schweppe was a Perkins commission, and the summer homes on Mackinac Island for industrialist Michael Cudahy and attorney Lawrence Young - which later became the summer residence of the Michigan's governor - were done by Perkins as well. His style choices were eclectic to say the least, which apparently made him a popular choice for some of the city's prominent residents. But before those jobs appeared on Perkins' drafting table, and four years after starting his private architectural practice, the Phillips Exeter Academy and MIT graduate designed one of his first major residential commissions for wholesale grocer Alonzo M. Fuller in 1890 in a style influence by the work of architect Henry Hobson Richardson with a few Queen Anne-styled flourishes added into the mix.

  [Alonzo M. Fuller House, 4832 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Alonzo Fuller came to Chicago in the early 1860s and got a job working in the fancy candies and fruits emporium of William M. Hoyt. Three years later Fuller and his co-worker Robert Bennett bought the store from Hoyt and watched their business venture go up in smoke along with a large portion of the rest of the city in 1871. They rebuilt, but in 1873 merged their enterprise with Hoyt's new wholesale grocery business and Fuller married Hoyt's sister Lotta. In 1882 William M. Hoyt & Company was incorporated with Hoyt as president; Fuller as vice-president, general purchaser and sales manager; and Bennett as secretary/treasurer. By 1890, when Perkins's house for the Fullers was built, Hoyt & Co. was generating over $3 million in yearly sales.

  [Alonzo M. Fuller House, Hyde Park - Kenwood National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Chicago's wholesale grocers supplied the food stuffs found in small grocery stores  around the city and the Midwest. Back-in-the day before the mega-corporate grocery store chains appeared on the scene, the small neighborhood market was the main supply line for meats, along with canned and dry goods products, for millions of shoppers. Due to the city's strategic transportation location, Chicago became home to some of the largest wholesale grocers in the nation- and William Hoyt & Co. was one of them. Given his stature as one of the ones who'd made it big in his adopted city, Fuller decided to build his multi-storied mansion on a very large lot on an up-and-coming street lined with other very large lots, in the Kenwood section of Chicago. Fuller's Ellis Avenue, and the adjacent Drexel Boulevard, would become the site of some of the city's largest houses, built with some of the city's large fortunes. Yet for all the energy and expense put into their "we have arrived" dwelling, the Fullers only occupied the house for a relatively short eight years when the 63-year-old wholesale merchant decided to retire from Hoyt & Co. and sell Perkins's stone-faced architectural statement.

  [Alonzo M. Fuller House, Kenwood Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The house was purchased by the very aristocratic sounding Wellington E. Cudney. Ironically - or not - Cudney was also in the wholesale grocery business as a purveyor of meat and meat associated products in and around the Midwest region. A grocer, or hotel kitchen for instance, would order sides of beef from Cudney & Company Wholesale Provisions that would be shipped-out to locations near and far from their plant at Orleans and Kinzie Streets. And although the Cudneys lived in the house for far longer than the Fullers by the time of Wellington Cudney's death in 1931, Alonzo M. Fuller's name will be forever attached to the Ellis Avenue manse because in the way of the world of house naming, it's usually whoever commissioned the job and ponied-up the cash in the first place, who gets to keep the name.
Ann Halsted House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Ann Halsted House (1884) Adler & Sullivan, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In the early part of 1883 Ann Halsted visited the architectural offices of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, two architects who had recently formed a 2/3 to 1/3 working partnership. Adler had been practicing as an architect longer than his younger partner and the firm's drawings still bore the title block D. Adler & Co. As for Mrs. Halsted, her husband had died a year earlier and she was ready to build a new house for herself and the five children she now had to raise on her own.

  [Ann Halsted House, 440 W. Belden Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Henry S. Halsted was a sailor at heart. He'd learned his trade in his native England  before landing on the shores of Lake Michigan and settling in Chicago in the 1850s. He eventually accumulated a small fleet of schooners that sailed the Great Lakes, and at the time of his death in 1882 owned more vessels than any other person in the city. He was just 56-years-old when he succumbed to pneumonia and left his widow Ann with an estate valued at $150,000 - and those five kids to take care of. Named sole executrix, Ann inherited around $6.6 million in today's dollars, and set to work running Henry's business, which she took very seriously. At the time she visited Adler and Sullivan Ann Halsted was embroiled in a law suit claiming that the State of Illinois had charged too much tax on two of her vessels. A state statute declared that commercial vessels should be taxed in the district in which they were berthed or enrolled. A Cook County statute declared that such a vessel should be taxed in the district in which the owner resided, which would result in a lower tax rate for Mrs. Halsted. Unfortunately for Ann the court found that the county could not supersede the state, so she had to pay-up.

  [Ann Halsted House, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

She had better luck with her plans to build a new house on a large lot near Lincoln Park just steps from the city's northern boundary at Fullerton Avenue. She and Henry had built a home a little further south of the new location right after the fire in 1871, and, ever the enterprising business person, after the move north, she had that single family home torn down and replaced it with four income producing townhouses - also designed by Adler & Sullivan. As for the new home, for anyone familiar with the later more renowned and expressive work of Louis Sullivan, the Halsted house seems remarkably restrained and very un-Sullivanesque. But this was early on in the Adler & Sullivan partnership and was very typical of the type of work the firm was doing at the time. The house wasn't your typical hyperkinetic Queen Anne styled single family home which was so popular in the 1880s. The designer of this 2-1/2 story brick house on Belden Avenue was searching for a new vocabulary, expressed in a simpler geometric massing and with restraint in the amount of exterior detailing. And the ancient Greeks would have loved the absolute symmetry of that street fronting face.

  [Ann Halsted House, Lincoln Park, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Halsted family moved into $15,000 home in the spring of 1884. Ann raised her children there, and died there in 1931. At that time, with the country in economic collapse, large, old, and out-of-date single family homes were often divvied-up and converted into multi-unit apartment buildings or rooming houses. The Halsted house escaped that era of conversion, as well as in the 1950s when another wave of re-purposing or demolition hit the market, and then the 1970s, 80s, 90s and into the 21st century. So that today the Ann Halsted house remains a single family home, one of the most intact and well preserved of Adler & Sullivan's residential commissions, and the only free-standing home from the partnership still standing.
Reynolds Fisher House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Reynolds Fisher House (1890) Patton & Fisher, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1889 the City of Chicago and the Village of Hyde Park merged and became one. If you had cut-out a map of the city as it existed back then and placed it over an outline of the borders of the village, the city would have fit snuggly into the boundaries of the village, so in one fell swoop the map of Chicago doubled in size. The oversized village was made-up of a number of small community clusters separated by swatches of open prairie. The area dubbed Kenwood was considered the most fashionable residential section, so when architect Reynolds Fisher decided to build himself a house, he chose the northern edge of the genteel colony as the site for his picturesque shingle-covered dwelling place.

  [Reynolds Fisher House, 4734 S. Kimbark Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The picturesque style of architecture evolved over a period of time after a group of mid-18th century artists decided that the formality of Neoclassicism was too confining and tightly wound. A bit of Greek, Gothic or Baroque here and there wasn't bad, but it was out with strict formality and in with asymmetry. Idyllic landscapes portrayed in picturesque paintings and gardens reflected a less formal pastoral ideal, and envisioned architecture and art in a much more romaticized fashion. The movement would later provide inspiration for the works of the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and the painter Thomas Kinkade. The style was also a perfect jumping-off point for Chicago area real estate developers in the late 1880s offering "sublime and beautiful" urban/suburban settings free of the harsh realities of inner city life. A promotional brochure bore the very straight forward and descriptive title, "Picturesque Kenwood."

  [Reynolds Fisher House, Hyde Park - Kenwood National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Fisher's house was about as picturesque as you could get at the close of the 19th century, and bore all of the hallmarks of what would eventually come to be known in the U.S. as the Shingle Style. It's hard to imagine today looking at the painted surfaces and asphalt roofing of the house, but when the structure was completed in 1890 the stained wood shingles covering the roof and walls blended much more effortlessly into the natural landscape. Surrounded by other large shingle-surfaced houses set far back from Kimbark Avenue's curb line, Fisher's street was the consummate expression of a picturesque archetype. But he didn't stay here for very long. After a partnership with architect Normand Patton that lasted for 16 years, in 1901 Fisher decided to leave architecture and Chicago behind, move to Seattle, and join his brother William, president of the Pontiac Brick & Tile Company, as the firm's treasurer.