Monday, March 2, 2015

Hoyt Family Monument
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Hoyt Family Monument (ca. 1884/1904) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In the mid-to-late 1880s Alfred Theodore Andreas published an extensive history of the City of Chicago and the County of Cook. The 1884 Cook County edition included a section about the Chicago suburb of Lake View with several paragraphs about the park-like setting to be found at Graceland Cemetery. When highlighting some of the magnificent grave markers erected in the north side burial place, he mentioned the "elegant yet simple monument of Wm. M. Hoyt, just completed." Eighteen-year-old William Melancton Hoyt came to Chicago in 1855, got a job as a grocery clerk, and by 1884 operated one of the largest wholesale grocery operations in the city. The elegant monument befit a man of his stature.

  [Hoyt Family Monument, Graceland Cemetery, 4001 N. Clark Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Hoyt like many of his contemporaries, made a commitment to remain in the city after the Great Fire and rebuild. He left for for New York immediately afterward and was able to secure a number of bank loans to start all over again even though his collateral had gone-up in smoke. He re-established Wm. M. Hoyt & Co. in a new "fireproof" building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and what was then River Street - the southwest corner of today's Wacker Drive and Michigan. The spot had once been the site of the old Fort Dearborn, and Hoyt famously had a marble plaque placed into the building's facade to mark the historic location.

  [Hoyt Family Monument, National Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1903 as the holiday season was coming to a close, Chicago's "most elaborate fireproof" theater was playing host to Eddie Foy and the family friendly musical "Mr. Bluebeard." The December 30th matinee at the new, 5-week-old Iroquois Theatre's 1500-seat auditorium had sold-out, and with standing-room-only tickets available management packed the auditorium to beyond capacity with well over 1900 patrons. Since it was a matinee of popular family fare many of the Iroqouis' theatergoers that afternoon were children, many accompanied by their mothers. As the second act began an open arc lamp sparked and the flash of flame ignited a piece of scenery backstage. Foy urged the crowd to remain calm and exit slowly since the fire curtain was being lowered and would prevent the fire from spreading into the auditorium. But as the curtain was coming down it got caught on a piece of pipe and as the actors opened the exit doors backstage the burst of air caused a backdraft and flames roared across and into the auditorium. Among the families attending were William Hoyt's daughter and her three children.

  [Hoyt Family Monument, Graceland Cemetery, Chicago /Image & Artwwork: chicago designslinger]

Over 700 people perished as a result of burns and suffocation. The exit doors opened inward instead of out, many were locked to stop kids from trying to sneak-in, and in the panic and pandemonium bodies simply piled on top of bodies as people tried in vain to exit. Graeme Stewart, a longtime employee of Wm. M. Hoyt & Co. who worked his way up the ladder and into a partnership at the firm and a family friend, took on the onerous task of trying to find Emilie Hoyt Fox and her children when they didn't return to their home in Winnetka. Stewart found 36-year-old Emilie Fox's body at Horan's Funeral Parlor at 18th Street and Michigan Avenue. He found 15-year-old George Sidney Fox's body at Jordan's on Madison Street, 12-year-old Hoyt and his 9-year-old sister Emily at Rolston's on Adams Street. Funeral services were held at the family's Winnetka home and four hearses brought the remains to Graceland Cemetery for a private service attended by family members and intimate friends. The sole survivor of the Fox family unit was Hoyt's son-in-law Frederick Morton Fox. He moved back to his native Philadelphia and died, apparently overwhelmed by grief, on March 3, 1904 nine weeks after his devastating loss. His body was brought to Chicago where he was interred with his family. In 1925, eighty-eight year old William M. Hoyt's earthly remains were buried beneath the three female figures added to grocery wholesaler's elegant monument after the death of his daughter and grandchildren, seven months after the death of his wife Emilie.
Charles A. Dupee House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Charles A. Dupee House (ca.1879) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Charles A. Dupee came to Chicago in November 1854 with a degree from Yale University and a teaching job at Edwards Academy, one of the city's private schools. After only one term, the 24-year-old Massachusetts native decided to leave and travel abroad, but apparently the city had made an impression. On his return to the U.S. nearly a year later, instead of settling in and around the eastern seaboard, Dupee came back to Chicago. This time however he opted to teach in the city's nascent public school system and was assigned to the Franklin School located on the north side of town. Franklin grammar was one of only a handful of public schools in operation back then, and today, has the distinction of being the fifth oldest continuously operating school in the 655 CPS system.

  [Charles A. Dupee House, 1314 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

He didn't stay long at the Franklin school either. By 1855 the city's population had increased to the point where there were enough students to open a high school, and in 1856 the Board of Education tapped Dupee to serve as the school's first principal. In 1860, as his 30th birthday approached, Principal Dupee switched things up once again and headed off to Harvard to get a law degree. But, just like he'd done after his European adventure, when he wrapped things up in Cambridge, instead of remaining in his native Massachusetts he returned to Chicago, and passed the Illinois bar in 1862. Now set on a career in the law, in 1863 Dupee married Jennie Wells, daughter of Chicago pioneer Henry G. Wells. The young Miss Wells, it just so happened, had graduated from Chicago High School in 1860.

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

The young couple made their home in the south suburban community of Kenwood. But always itching for a change Dupee left his pastoral surroundings for a more urban environment a few miles away. After the Great Fire had obliterated most of the city's north side and the rebuilding of residential housing began to edge its way north of Division Street, prominent members of the city's business community began building elegant townhomes along Dearborn Avenue. So, by the late 1870s Dupee decided to join his contemporaries and leave Kenwood, buy an elegant 3-story townhome on Dearborn, and lived not far from the Franklin School. Dupee was on a roll. His law firm became one of the more well-connected practices in the city whose client roster boasted a number of insurance, railroad and banking institutions. Unfortunately, tragedy struck the family in 1881 when Jennie Dupee died leaving behind her husband, two teenage sons and young daughter. But never one to just sit back and lick his wounds, the 52-year-old widower married 26-year-old Elizabeth "Bessie" Nash in 1883 - and had five more children.

  [Charles A. Dupee House, Dearborn Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]

The finely-honed, Athens-marble-fronted house with its elegant Second Empire mansard roof, bustled with activity. Not only were there eight children living in the house, but the Dupee's names were frequently mentioned in the society columns, attending one event after another or entertaining in their Dearborn Avenue townhouse. The law became a family tradition. The two oldest children Eugene and George followed in their father's footsteps and became lawyers, while the oldest daughter Elaine married attorney William Sidley. Then on March 26, 1902, the former educator and lawyer died in his home after a long illness. In 1908 Bessie Dupee finally packed her bags and left Dearborn Avenue. Eugene went on to become one of the movers and shakers in the city's implementation of the Burnham plan of 1909, serving as special council to the Lincoln Park Board of Commissioners who oversaw things like the expansion of Lake Shore Drive. The lawyering instinct even passed down to Eugene, Jr. who like his father and took up the bar and practiced at his grandfather's successor firm Schiff Hardin.
Crane Company Building - 888 S. Michigan Avenue
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Crane Company Building (1912) Holabird & Roche, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Back when a cloud meant the thing that we see in the sky and not a gathering place for data, another series of technologically advancing events transformed the way business was conducted. In the middle of the 19th century the U.S., like other industrializing nations, underwent a revolution in the way goods were manufactured, sold and marketed. As chimney stacks filled the air with smoke and massive manufacturing plants cranked-out more materiel than seemed humanly consumable, the number of employees needed in the front office to keep track of all this product increased. Businesses that once had a clerk or two sitting behind a table top now found themselves employing ten, twenty, thirty, or even forty or more people, working away in a sea of desks entering data the old fashioned way with a pen and ink, or the laptop of its day, the typewriter.

  [Crane Company Building, 836 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Most of this front office work was done in the factory plant itself or in an adjacent purpose-built building. But with the advent of communication systems like the telephone, and the confluence of a network of transportation systems in cities like Chicago, many business leaders left the plant behind and moved downtown into ever expanding central business districts. The McCormicks left the reaper plant on Blue Island and Western Avenues and moved downtown to Dearborn Street. George Pullman built his headquarters on Michigan Avenue and Adams Street, several miles away from his palace car works on the far south side of the city. They, and many of their colleagues, were now within walking distance of one another, and more importantly close to the financial institutions that provided the funding to keep the engines of industry humming. The elite Calumet Club on the south side of town near Prairie Avenue, or north sider's Union Club on Washington Square Park, were usurped by the much more conveniently located private clubs in the center of town.

  [Crane Company Building, Historic Michigan Boulevard District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

One of the city's great industrialists Richard T. Crane was late in coming to the downtown party. The 23-year-old, like many of his fellow New Englanders, came west and settled in Chicago in the mid-1850s. On his arrival Crane opened a small forging shop in a frame building located in his uncle Martin Ryerson's lumber yard and began operating a wrought-iron-pipe rolling mill. And as the inveterate tinkerer and inventor introduced new and innovative pipe and steam related products into the marketplace he moved from one location in the city to another, but unlike his fellow manufacturing moguls, Crane never felt the need to leave the plant and move downtown. Front office operations were always within the factory itself, and Crane's desk sat right in the middle of it all. There were no hierarchical, partitional separations at Crane Bros. Manufacturing Company, and this belief in being close to the action and part of the workforce, kept the plumbing and radiator maker from making the move that so many of his colleagues had undertaken.

  [Crane Company Building, 888 S. Michigan Avenue Apartments /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1905 the company moved from its Jefferson Street plant to a much larger piece of property located at Canal and 12th Streets. Crane hired architect Louis Sullivan to design a foundry building and a free-standing 6-story office building on the site, but all of the buildings were torn down in 1912 after Crane sold the acreage to the Burlington railroad in 1911. The 79-year-old valve, plumbing and bathroom fixture manufacturer then purchased 160 acres on the southwest side of the city at 39th and Pershing Road and built his largest manufacturing plant. And, finally, the company made plans to build a dedicated office building close to the central business district located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and 9th Street - but R.T. Crane never made the move. He died suddenly of a heart attack on January 8, 1912 before the building was completed and left the Crane operation in the hands of his sons Charles and Richard, Jr. The site of the 12-story headquarters building was only 40-feet wide which gave architects Holabird & Roche the opportunity to construct column-free floor plates. 40-foot long, steel-spanning girders were big enough to carry the floor load  leaving the floor plates wide open, and in Richard Crane, Sr. fashion, partition free. The company was eventually purchased by a New York investor in 1959 and the corporate office was moved to Park Avenue in Manhattan. Then the Standard Oil Company of Indiana moved in. When the property was converted into residential condominium housing in the 21st century, the the 40-foot by 160-foot open spans were partitioned and divided, and the building was renamed 888 South Michigan Avenue.
Pine Grove Apartments
 by: chicago designslinger

[Pine Grove Apartments (1923) Loewenberg & Loewenberg, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

For some apartment dwellers livin' the high life might mean that your building's amenities include a pool, an in-building gym, roof-top-deck, a doorman, and perhaps a screening room. Buildings like Chicago's Ritz Carlton Residences, or the residential portion of the city's Waldorf Astoria Hotel, offer-up all that and much more - an apartment with all the conveniences of luxurious hotel living.

  [Pine Grove Apartments, 2828 N. Pine Grove Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

After the First World War, Chicago experienced an apartment building boom that offered residents the perks of hotel living for not much more than the price you would pay for an average rental. Society was changing. People were more mobile, more women were entering the work force, domestic life was being redefined - and real estate developers picked-up on the new trend. The apartment hotel was meant to meet the need of this new mass market by allowing people to rent by the week, month, or year. Two to four room apartments were offered furnished or unfurnished and usually included a small kitchenette. But, if you didn't feel like cooking - remember this was before fast or pre-packaged, microwavable food was available on every street corner - management also offered meals prepared by an in-house kitchen staff served in an elegantly appointed dining room. There were smoking rooms for men, lounges for ladies, and many offered a full service lending library on the premises. 24-hour front desk and maid service was included along with a switchboard operator to answer your phone calls, and an elevator operator to take you to and from your floor.

  [Pine Grove Apartments, Surf-Pine Grove Historic District /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

With an apartment hotel project in mind, investors Robert Edelson and Hyland Paullin purchased a large piece of property on Pine Grove Avenue just north of Diversey Boulevard from the William Grace estate in 1922 for $60,000. The suburban-like community that the Graces had moved into 40 years earlier had transformed itself into a densely packed neighborhood now linked to the bustling downtown job market by several public transit lines, populated by just the kind of clientele that was showing an interest in apartment hotel life. The new Hotel Pine Grove would offer 2, 3, and 4-room apartments with a large public dining room, three private dining rooms, a glass enclosed roof garden over the north wing of the building which would include restaurant service, and of course a ladie's social lounge and men's smoking room. The apartments came unfurnished, but, as the Chicago Tribune reported, management did include a Murphy In-A-Dor bed, utilities, and an electric refrigerator, free of charge.

  [Pine Grove Apartments, Lakeview, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Architects Max and Israel Loewenberg's effusive exterior decor helped the owners market the place as a cut above the rest, offering a sense of palatial living behind the building's ornately trimmed doorway. The plasticity of terra cotta allowed the Loewenberg brothers to create a jewel box of an entry pavilion and enhance the buff-colored brick with an abundance of classically-inspired curliques and swags that would have made any 18th century European noble feel right at home. When the building was ready for occupancy in May 1923, Baird & Warner, the building's leasing agent, ran a large display ad in the Tribune with a banner headline proclaiming "The Pine Grove - Apartment de Luxe - Coupling Old World romanticism with every modern convenience." Unfortunately the luxe times were about to end. The Great Depression brought the Roaring Twenties lifestyle of a large number of apartment hotels to a close. Many were converted into rooming houses or, like the Pine Grove, became just your average everyday apartment building with none of the hotel amenities, and no Murphy beds.
Poetry Foundation Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Poetry Foundation Building (2011) John Ronan Architects, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When poet, author, and resolute publisher Harriet Monroe died in 1936 she left $19,000 to be divided among family members and friends, $5,000 to the University of Chicago, and $6,000 to Poetry, the monthly magazine she had founded in 1912 and edited until her death. When Ruth Lilly, the great-granddaughter of Eli Lilly the founder of the pharmaceutical giant died in 2009, she left behind an estate valued at $1 billion - $100 million of which had been given to Monroe's visionary publication in 2002. This combination of one women's drive, determination and commitment to verse, and another's desire to be a poet, resulted in architect John Ronan having the opportunity to design a dedicated headquarters building for a publication that had spent 99 years renting in places like the bedroom of an old mansion and a library's basement.

  [Poetry Foundation Buildling, 61 W. Superior Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The story begins on December 23, 1860 when Martha and Henry Monroe welcomed their second child - another daughter - into the family. Infant Harriet's father had come to Chicago four years earlier and by the time of her arrival he had begun, what would eventually become, a modestly successful law practice in the city. Like many Chicago families of certain means Harriet was sent to Chicago's Dearborn Seminary before heading-off to continue her education at Visitation Convent, an all girls academy in Georgetown, Washington D.C. After graduating in 1879 Harriet traveled extensively, filling her calendar with a variety of artistically-inclined salons and literary-minded events both here in the U.S. and abroad. She got her first poem published in 1888, wrote an ode that was read at the dedication of Adler & Sullivan's Auditorium Building the following year, and landed a job working as the art critic for the Chicago Tribune - which paid the bills.

  [Poetry Foundation Building, Superior and Dearborn Streets, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Then on January 15, 1891 Dora Monroe Root, Harriet's older sister, became a widow when her husband John of the architectural firm Burnham & Root, died of pneumonia. The architect was in the planning stages of the World's Columbian Exposition when he was taken ill, and after his death, Harriet moved-in to her sister's Astor Street townhouse and began to write. In 1896 Monroe's tribute to her immensely talented brother-in-law, John Wellborn Root: A Study of His Life and Work, was published. Unfortunately her career as a poet wasn't heading in the direction she had hoped it would, and finding herself frustrated by the lack of contemporary publications publishing modern verse, she decided to take action. In 1910 Monroe began visiting the offices of Chicago's leading businessmen in an effort to raise enough money to start her own publication. Determined and unstoppable, Monroe gained a new respect for all the women she encountered who acted as the guardians of their male employer's inner sanctums, and by connecting with these unsung heroes of the business world, gained access to these titans of commerce and raised the $5,000 she needed to start her publication.

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

Monroe rented a room in an old mansion that stood at 543 Cass Street just south of Ohio Street which had been converted into office space. Although the former E.B. McCagg home is long gone and Cass Street is now Wabash Avenue, Monroe launched Poetry: A Magazine of Verse from that location on September 23, 1912. For the next 24 years, through sheer force of will, Monroe was able to turn-out a monthly journal that published some of the first works of authors whose names would come to be recognized around the world, and who would go on to win Nobel Prizes. Ruth Lilly hoped that one day she would become one of those people. Although Poetry never published one of Lilly's submissions, she was so touched by the magazine's encouraging rejection letters that she endowed fellowships for young poets through the magazine's Modern Poetry Association. Then in 2002 she shook the philanthropic, poetic and publishing world with her gift of $100 million in Lilly stock. The little poetry engine that could now became the repository of one of the largest financial windfall's in financial gift-giving history. Then in 2011, after 99-years as renters, the Poetry Foundation, which now oversaw the publication of Monroe's magazine, moved out of their basement headquarters at the Newberry Library and into their purpose-built, wholly-owned, 25,000 square-foot, John Ronan-designed ode to Harriet Monroe.
Crilly Court, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Crilly Court, Chicago (1885) / Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Like many 18-year-olds Daniel Crilly wondered what he wanted to do with his life. Things weren't going badly for him in his native Pennsylvania but he wanted something more, and in 1857 there were only a few options to choose from - college not being one of them. So he made the decision to head out west and landed in Iowa City, Iowa where he found a job building houses. By 1868 he was ready for a change and decided to make a play for the big time. This move took him to Chicago, and it proved to be a fortuitous choice. By the time of his death in the summer of 1921, Crilly had turned-over a real estate portfolio worth well over $1 million to his children. A million bucks doesn't sound like all that much divvied-up 5 ways these days, but it would translate to around $2.5 million per child in 2013 dollars.

  [Crilly Court, Chicago, 1700 Block North Crilly Court /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When he first arrived in the city the ambitious young man found work in the meatpacking industry. Once he had saved-up enough money, he bought a piece of real estate as an investment and never looked back. By the time he acquired a 4-acre parcel of property on Chicago's north side in 1884, Crilly owned a downtown Chicago office building bearing his name, and a large home on mansion-lined South Park Boulevard representative of his status as a successful businessman. His north side investment ran along the west side of Wells Street north to Florimond Street (now St. Paul), then over to North Park Avenue, down to Eugenie, and back over to Wells. The tract was owned by Florimond Canda, a former officer in Napoleon's army, who had inherited the Chicago acreage upon the death of his brother Charles.

  [Crilly Court, Chicago, Old Town Triangle National Historic District /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The real estate developer built a group of homes along his North Park property line and a row of conjoined townhouses on a tiny lane he cut through the middle. He named the block-long street Crilly Court, and had the word "Private" carved into the stone pillars at either end. With the stroke of a masons chisel, Crilly made it clear that this enclave was a cut above the rest. The decoratively-trimmed row of houses were rented to middle class businessmen and their families, and although students were among the renters, they came from reliably respectable, Blue Book listed families. Once the houses were completed in 1885 Crilly kept the remaining land vacant until the demand for housing in the population-expanding neighborhood increased. In 1893 he built an apartment complex that ran along the east side of Crilly, and paid tribute to his children by putting their names in the decorative rectangular stone pediment over the entry doors.

  [Crilly Court, Old Town Triangle Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

At the time of his death, Crilly's real estate investment in the neighborhood had grown to include the southern half of the Wells Street block that sat directly across from his Crilly Court, children-named, Wells-facing building. But, by the time the first quarter of the 20th century was roaring, the area around the "Private" lane had seen better times. In 1931 Edgar Crilly - Daniel's son and legatee - decided that the time was right to try and improve the fading fortunes of the area now known as Old Town. By the time of Edgar's death 30-years later, Old Town's bohemian, trendy, and property-value-increasing reputation was well on its way, and when the family decided to sell Daniel Francis Crilly's multi-acred parcel in 1963, the heirs became $2 million richer.
Essex Inn
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Essex Inn (1961) A. Epstein & Sons, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Chicago's Grant Park-facing stretch of Michigan Avenue has a long and storied hotel history. In 1870 the elegantly appointed Michigan Avenue House hotel rose on the southwest corner of Congress Street, and narrowly escaped being consumed by the flames of the Great Fire a year later. Post fire, the Gardner Hotel rose out of the ashes on the southwest corner of Jackson Street, followed by the Beaurivage and the Richelieu - all in the same block. Then in 1889 came Adler & Sullivan's monumental, multi-purpose Auditorium Building with its combined hotel/office/theater complex, followed by architect Clinton Warren's Auditorium Annex three years later. That building was enlarged in 1902 with a design by Holabird & Roche and renamed the Congress Hotel, then in 1908 architects Marshall & Fox designed the Blackstone Hotel for the Drake brothers a little further down the street. Finally, in 1927, Holabird & Roche returned - this time at the southern end of the accommodating avenue - with their massive Stevens Hotel.

[Essex Inn, 800 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the late 1950s a new hotel hadn't risen along Michigan Avenue's park-facing frontage in over 30 years, but Eugene Heytow was about to change all that. The 25-year-old entrepreneur along with his investor, dermatologist, brother-in-law Martin Gecht, had created an entity called the Aristocratic Inns of America and were interested in three corner properties at the southern end of Michigan overlooking the park. Each parcel contained a gas station with lots of room to spare so the partners snapped-up all three and then hired the architectural firm of A. Epstein and Sons to draw up plans for three hotels for each corner. Abraham Epstein had started his structural engineering firm in 1921 and when Raymond and Sidney joined their father's company in the mid-1940s, the Sons were added to the company's name. By that time Epstein had morphed into a design/build firm overseeing not only the structural components of construction but also the design. The mixing of two different disciplines ruffled the feathers of the esteemed American Institute of Architects who felt that architects were designers not contractors, and Sidney never forgot the, "snobby snub." He refused to join the AIA, even as he and Raymond grew the company into one of the largest firms in the country, and still refused to join even after the architectural association changed their policy.

    [Essex Inn, Historic Michigan Boulevard District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The contiguous wall of Michigan Avenue masonry that had faced the park for generations had recently been broken by the steel and glass structure Epstein & Sons had designed and built for the Borg-Warner Corporation, while Heytow's hotel projects would be of a smaller scale. Of the three, the hotel at the southwest corner of 8th Street and Michigan would be Aristocrat's tallest and glossiest. At 14-stories it didn't beat-out the 29-story Stevens - now Hilton - Hotel. But its sleek, modern, metal and glass curtain walls stood in stark contrast to the weighty, soot-coated surfaces of the Auditorium and Congress Hotel, and garnered enough attention to land Gene Heytow in Life Magazine standing on the balcony of the newly completed Essex Inn.

  [Essex Inn, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The association between the brothers-in-laws and Sidney Epstein went beyond hotel design and construction. Epstein was an investor in the Aristocratic Inns venture and served as a director of Heytow and Gecht's Amalgamated Bank. And by the time Heytow died in 2010, Life Magazine's Chicago wonder boy had become the owner of a number of other hotels, been a majority shareholder in a few more banks, and served as chairman of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, overseeing the McCormick Place Convention Center complex and Navy Pier. Martin Gecht kept-up his dermatology practice until his death at the age of eighty-four in 2005, leaving behind an art collection which was donated to the Art Institute of Chicago. Sidney Epstein is still going strong at ninety, while the 52-year-old Essex Inn is approaching middle age.
Aon Center - Amoco Standard Oil Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Aon Center - Amoco Standard Oil Building (1974) Edward Durell Stone, architect; Perkins & Will associate architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When John D. Rockefeller died in 1937 he was the world's richest person - a title that he has been able to hold on to even though he's been dead for over 75 years. If you able were to gather together the estimated net worth of today's top 5 billionaires and put all that money into one account, that horde of cash still wouldn't reach Rockefeller's net worth at the time of his death - which would be around $365 billion in 2013 dollars. His fortune was based on oil - the gathering, refining, marketing and selling of the planet's liquid gold. But according to the federal government the oil tycoon's control of 90% of the domestic market was illegal, and in 1911 the billionaire was compelled to break-up his Standard Oil Trust into a series of subsidiaries, one of which, Standard Oil of Indiana, was based in the midwest and headquartered in Chicago.

  [Aon Center - Amoco Standard Oil Building, 200 E. Randolph Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Standard Oil had maintained offices in Chicago since the 1880s and in 1927   consolidated their scattered workspaces into one location on south Michigan Avenue. Forty-years later when company chairman John Swearingen decided that it was time to move, Standard of Indiana had grown into one of the world's largest oil-producing corporations and the old building didn't prominently proclaim the company's dominant presence in the global marketplace. He picked a potentially eye-catching site on the north edge of Grant Park at Randolph Street close to the 41-story Prudential Building and a little west of the 40-story Outer Drive East apartment building. Standard purchased land that sat several feet below the elevated deck of Randolph which bridged a sliver of acreage that belonged to the Illinois Central Railroad. The property had once been the home of the massive railyard of the Illinois Central Railroad, and while the rail line had begun making plans for a monumental redo of their lake front acreage in the late 1920s, the Great Depression and the Second World War stymied their efforts. So the plan didn't really start to take shape until the Prudential Insurance Company built their project in the early 1950s. After securing the site, Swearingen selected over two dozen architectural firms to submit ideas, narrowed the field, had the remaining firms refine their proposals, and the winner ended up being New York-based architect Edward Durell Stone with Chicago-based Perkins & Will as the local architects of record. Stone would be responsible for the overall design of the building while Perkins & Will would take on the job of translating the concept into the actual working drawings and oversee construction.

  [Aon Center - Amoco Standard Oil Building, Illinois Center, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Swearingen was a Chicago powerhouse. Standard of Indiana employed over 8,000  people in the region, and it was during the native South Carolinian's tenure that the company went from what he considered a "second rate" oil company, into one of the world's largest corporations. Architect Edward Durell Stone got noticed after designing the new home of New York's Museum of Modern Art with Phillip Goodwin in 1939. He gained international recognition in 1954 for his U.S. Embassy building in New Dehli, and designed the General Motors Building and the controversial museum building for Huntington Hartford in New York City in 1964. The facade of the new, 83-story, Standard Oil skyscraper resembled Stone's General Motors project but the internal structure of the equal-sided square tower in Chicago was supported by the exterior wall frame and an inner central core which provided for column-free floor plates, much like the design architect Minoru Yamasaki's would utilize for his World Trade Center buildings in lower Manhattan.

  [Aon Center - Amoco Standard Oil Building, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When the building was completed in 1974 it was the tallest building in the city, and was a very publicly projecting testament to John Swearingen's tenure. Stone's structural-plan-providing narrow vertical bands of windows framed by equally narrow vertical bands clad in white Cararra marble made the already towering skyscraper appear even taller. Unfortunately the choice of the Italian-quarried-stone proved to be a bad one. Given Chicago's unforgiving climate the marble slabs didn't hold up well when faced with the city's weather extremes. In 1992 Standard Oil of Indiana, now known as Amoco, undertook a massive desconstruction/reconstruction of their four 1,136-foot tall facades and replaced the marble with a more climate resistent granite. John Swearingen had retired by then, and in 1998 British Petroleum began retiring the Amoco brand after purchasing the American-based conglomerate. BP began moving personnel out to the suburbs soon thereafter, and in 1999 the Aon insurance company moved into the vacated space. They took on the name of the tower for themselves, then in 2012 Aon moved their corporate headquarters to London. Ironically, ten years after BP began moving personnel to the burbs, the company moved back into the city since their increasingly younger workforce had chosen the city over the suburbs. However, BP did not choose to re-relocate back into the Stone/Swearingen tower.
Michigan Avenue Lofts
 Karpen & Standard Oil of Indiana Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Michigan Avenue Lofts - Karpen & Standard Oil of Indiana Building (1911) Marshall & Fox, architects (1927) addition, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1880 a 22-year-old German-Jewish immigrant named Solomon Karpen took the $580 he had saved-up since arriving in Chicago eight years earlier and opened a furniture upholstery business. Solomon's father Moritz had been a cabinet maker in a part of Prussia that had once been Poland - and returned to being Poland after the First World War - and brought his wife and eight sons to Chicago hoping for a better life in the 19th century's version of the land of milk and honey. Upon his arrival in the U.S. in 1872, the oldest Karpen boy used the carpentry skills he had learned under his father's tutelage to find work in the Chicago's burgeoning furniture manufacturing industry. With his savings he opened S. Karpen & Bros., and as Solomon's younger siblings came of age the brothers portion of the company expanded along with the business.

  [Michigan Avenue Lofts - Karpen & Standard Oil of Indiana Building, 910 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When you're strolling down Michigan Avenue today past Chicago's Art Institute and the ever popular Millennium Park, it's hard to believe that when Karpen & Bros. moved into a shop and showroom on the lake-facing boulevard, the avenue was lined with loft manufacturing buildings that stood side-by-side with some of the city's more prestigious hotels. Their 6-story building on the west side of Michigan at Adams Street looked directly into the looming glass facade of the Interstate Exposition Building and was close to the city's bustling manufactured-goods-transporting train stations. The network of rail lines that converged at the center of the centrally located U.S. city turned Chicago into a manufacturing mecca, which in turn greatly improved the fortunes of Solomon and his brothers. But, as he wrote in a 1912 essay titled, How to Become A Millionaire, "No matter what money you have, don't allow it to be idle."

  [Michigan Avenue Lofts - Karpen & Standard Oil of Indiana Building, Historic Michigan Boulevard District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Solomon never allowed any monies invested in property to sit idle. He sold the Adams Street corner to the Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company for a tidy profit, bought the bankrupt Hotel Richelieu building just down the street for a song, and by the time he was able to realize a tidy profit from the sale of that building in 1910, S. Karpen & Bros. had become the largest upholstering and furniture manufacturing company in the world. For his next move Solomon took a long-term leasehold on a large corner lot at Michigan and Eldridge Court (today's 9th Street) for 99-years from the Otto Young estate. He had the architectural firm of Marshall & Fox draw-up plans for a 20-story building even though the furniture-making-mogul would only be building to a height of 13-stories, where the company occupied less than half of the space and rented-out the rest. In 1926, after 15 years of occupancy, even though Karpen Bros. had plenty of money in the bank, Solomon sold his 13-story, U-shaped structure to the Standard Oil Company of Indiana for $1 million more than he'd paid for it.

  [Michigan Avenue Lofts - Karpen & Standard Oil of Indiana Building, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1889 John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company established a 1,400-acre refinery in Whiting, Indiana adjacent to the Illinois border - which also just happened to be near the recently expanded border of the City of Chicago. Given the size of the Whiting refinery, the oil tycoon decided that Standard needed a regional office in the area and instead of choosing nearby Gary, Indiana he chose to go a little further up the Lake Michigan shoreline and opened offices in Chicago's bustling central business district. By the time Standard purchased the Karpen Building and the land underneath it from the Young estate in 1927, Rockefeller's Standard Oil trust had been broken-up into several subsidiary companies and Standard of Indiana had become one of the largest and most profitable of the regional outposts. The purchase of the building and land allowed Standard to consolidate their scattered Chicago offices into one building, and needing more space, they undertook the construction of the additional floors that Marshall & Fox's structural framing had planned for. Architects Graham, Anderson, Probst & White not only added a few more floors to the structure, they also incorporated a discreet "S" and "O" into the white terra-cotta heraldic panel near the top of the now 20-story building. By the late 60s Standard was ready for a new, modern, up-to-date, Chicago-centric headquarters and began construction on a new building at the north end of Grant Park. The aging Karpen & Bros. property sat vacant, was rented by the State of Illinois for a period of time in the 1980s, sat vacant again, and was converted into residential condominiums in the mid-1990s. It marked the beginnings of a long line of conversions that now stretch along the entire length Michigan Avenue's Grant Park-facing facades.
Fred Eychaner House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Fred Eychaner House (1997) Tadao Ando, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In October 1991 New York's Museum of Modern Art exhibited the work of Tadao Ando, a renowned Japanese architect who had never attended architecture school or spent several years apprenticing at an architectural firm, he just taught himself what he needed to know. Ando became famous for his use of concrete and glass and creating a signature style that was all about light, space, and privacy. His early projects turned inward away from the messy chaos often found in Japan's intensely, tightly-packed cities, and it was his 1976 Azuma Row House that brought him the first taste of international recognition. Apparently while attending the New York exhibit a wealthy, intensely private Chicago newspaper printer and broadcast station owner decided to contact Ando in Japan about building a house in Chicago.

  [Fred Eychaner House, 665 W. Wrightwood Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Fred Eychaner owned and operated a company that printed newspapers for small publications who didn't own their own presses and contracted the work out. He used some of his printing income to invest in a television station, which in turn brought him even more money. When the time came to build a home on a large lot on a densely-packed city street, Eychaner wrote Ando a letter in early 1992 and offered the architect his first project in the United States. It took five years to get the house built. The first contractor left when the architect and client realized that the concrete work wasn't working, the second also couldn't get a handle on the design, but a third was finally able to finesse the project to completion. Ando's aesthetic perfectly suited Eychaner's very private personality. The concrete slab, street-viewable facades gave the print and broadcast owner a perfect barrier between a surprisingly open, airy and light-filled interior living space and exposure to the public way. Divided into three sections, the separate living environments were joined together by glass-enclosed transitional areas that belied the structure's bunker-like public face.

  [Fred Eychaner House, Lakeview, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The property Eychaner had purchased for his Ando house contained two exisitngs buildings with a wide yard on the east side of the plot. The 2-story single family dwelling at 665 W. Wrightwood had started-out with the address 1729 W. Wrightwood, and originally sat in the middle of a large oversized lot. When the city finished its revamp of the street numbering system in 1910, 1729 became 665 and not long after, the large lot grew a little smaller when a 3-story apartment building was squeezed into the sideyard to the west. Eychaner returned the property back to its original generous dimensions by tearing down the original house and the apartment building. But instead of locating his new home back to the middle, he used the far eastern edge of the plot of land for Ando's concrete composition, leaving room for a tree-filled, green, privacy screen to the west.
Park View - Park Grove Manor Apartments, Oak Park
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Park View - Park Grove Manor Apartments (1922/1927) E.E. & Elmer Roberts, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Who knew that Oak Park resident and Chicago area-based architect Eben Ezra Roberts had such a sense of humor. Thirty-five years into a very productive career, Roberts introduced a bit of architectural playfulness into a handsome courtyard apartment building that hadn't shown-up in any of his previous projects. Perhaps it was his son Elmer, who was working with his father by this time, who had suggested that they have a little fun with this one.

  [Park View - Park Grove Manor Apartments, 173-181 North Grove Avenue, Oak Park, IL. /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

E.E. Roberts came to Chicago in 1888 and found a job in the office of architect Solon S. Beman at a time when Beman was busy cranking out projects for railcar innovator George Pullman. Then, with a few years of experience under his belt, in 1893 Roberts decided to set-off on his own and establish a firm in the suburb of Oak Park. There was also another young, up-and-coming architect at work in the west Chicago suburb, and even though Roberts never achieved the worldwide recognition of his neighbor Frank Lloyd Wright, more Roberts designed buildings appeared on Oak Park's streets than Wright's. Unlike the Prairie Style nonconformist, Roberts was willing to adapt any number of popular, revival styles and apply them to his residential and commercial work as needed. He was a much more comfortable choice for many his more traditional minded neighbors.

  [Park View - Park Grove Manor Apartments, Oak Park, Oak Park Historic Landmark, Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture National Historic District /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Roberts was the client as well as the owner of the Grove Avenue apartment building complex. The multi-phase project, constructed in two sections in 1922 and then in 1927, sat on a sizeable plot of land at the southwest corner of Grove and Ontario Streets. The architect had combined two individual pieces of property - each of which had a large, single family, home sitting on it - for his U-shaped multi-unit real estate investment. The lot on the north side of the conjoined parcel had been the residence of businessman William Spooner, who like many of his upper-middle-class neighbors commuted to his downtown Chicago office by train. Spooner was also very active in the Congregational Church which was located just around the corner on Lake Street, and served on the board of the Scoville Institute, which his across-the-street neighbor James Scoville had constructed at the corner of Grove and Lake. It was a very tight-knit community.

[Park View - Park Grove Manor Apartments, Oak Park /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The house to the south had once been the home of J.L. Cleveland, another commuting businessperson who served as the assistant land commissioner of the Chicago & North Western Railroad. Roberts bought the two properties, had the houses torn down and the first phase of construction got underway. And although the expressive gargoyle-like faces didn't make it on to the upper part of one section of the "U" if you circle over to the Ontario Street facade and look up, you'll see the that father and son had even more fun with the countenances framing the service entrance.
Couch Mausoleum
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Couch Mausoleum (1858) John M. Van Osdel, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As we sit here in the thirteenth year of the 21st first century, it's hard to imagine that 155 years ago the built-up portions of the north side of the city of Chicago were just edging toward Division Street. Standing today at the intersection of, say, Division and Dearborn you'd have to summon-up all your imaginative powers to try and visualize what the sparsely populated area looked like on a dreary March day in 1857 when the family of Ira Couch traveled all the way up to North Avenue on the outskirts of town and deposited their loved one in the City Cemetery.

  [Couch Mausoleum, North LaSalle Drive, Lincoln Park, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

This northernmost version of the municipally-owned-and-operated city of the dead was created in 1842 when the burgeoning borough of Chicago began to encroach on the borders of the old cemetery located at Chicago Avenue and the lake. The Common Council, fearful that decomposing body vapors would contaminate the expanding residential community, decided to set aside a triangle of land at North Avenue and the lake as the location of a more remote, and hopefully less befouling burial ground. The parcel was located at the far northeast corner of the city map that looked like a small triangular-shaped bump which had broken free of the municipality's perfect 90-degreed-cornered corporate border, and seemed like the perfect place for a new graveyard.

  [Couch Mausoleum, Lincoln Park, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Ira Couch came to Chicago in 1836 the year before the town was officially incorporated as a city. Ira's tailor shop was located next door to the Tremont House, one of the few hotels in town which he bought the year after his arrival, with the intent to create the city's finest hostelry. Couch's luxuriously branded lodging place burned to the ground in 1839 and he rebuilt across the street on the southeast corner of Lake and Dearborn Streets. That building was destroyed by a fire in 1849, and Couch's third edition of the Tremont House would be the grandest of them all. The large five-story, "fire-proof" brick structure designed by architect John M. Van Osdel contained 250 of the finest hotel rooms the city had to offer, and was open for business the year after the fire. In 1855 Couch decided to divest himself of a share of the hotel and he and his brother James brought in John Drake as a partner. Couch used the capital to increase the size of his ever expanding portfolio of Chicago real estate, and was considered to be the city's first millionaire. He didn't get to enjoy his good fortune for very long. While on a vacation in Cuba the hotel/real estate magnate died after coming down with what was thought to be a cold. His body was brought back to Chicago, and on March 5, 1857 he was interred in the City Cemetery.

  [Couch Mausoleum, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1858 Couch's remains were placed into a mausoleum designed by Van Osdel - a final tribute to his former client. But even before Couch's body had arrived at the cemetery gates, there were stirrings about moving the city's funerary grounds once again. In 1855 business owners following the old Green Bay Road (Clark Street) on its diagonal march past the southwest corner of the cemetery, petitioned the city to have the graveyard moved. By 1865 the Common Council agreed, stopped burials in 1866, and in 1869, with the enforcement power of an act of the Illinois legislature establishing a new park on the site, ordered the removal of over 20,000 interred remains overseen by the newly empowered Lincoln Park Commissioners. With an allotment of legislatively appropriated funds the Commissioners first had to purchase privately owned plots of land within the park's boundaries, then use any remaining funds to assist in the removal of the dearly departed. It was a long drawn-out process. Most families were willing to move, some were not, and some simply couldn't afford to. By the early 1890s when the area had been cleared of gravesites, the Couch mausoleum was still standing and the family, who had fallen on hard economic times, couldn't afford the $3,000 price tag for the removal of the 50-ton structure to another cemetery. The Commissioners weren't willing to pony-up the cash and decided, temporarily, to mask the tomb with greenery. By the 1980s decades of temporarily placed shrubbery had overtaken the neglected stone burial chamber which many passersby assumed was an abandoned park comfort station. In the late 1990s the city undertook a restoration of the tomb and reinstalled a replica of the original fence, but apparently no one opened the door to find out just how many people were at rest inside. So although Ira Couch is not alone, just how not alone remains a mystery.
The Brewster, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [The Brewster, Chicago (1893) Enoch Hill Turnock, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Chicago is once again undergoing a tall apartment building building frenzy. There are approximately 8,300 units scheduled to be completed by 2015 in buildings as tall as 60-stories  - and that's just within a 2 mile radius of State and Madison Streets. One-hundred-and-twenty years ago Bjoerne Edwards wanted to get in on the city's tall building craze with plans to build a towering 8-story apartment building on a piece of property that he owned on the northwest corner of Diversey and what was then Park Avenue, now Pine Grove.

  [The Brewster, Chicago, 2800 N. Pine Grove Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Apartment living wasn't exactly new to the Chicago residential scene at the close of the 19th century, but stacking dwelling units on top of one another beyond three or four stories was still considered somewhat controversial, especially in low density residential neighborhoods. The year that Edwards decided to take the tall building plunge there were a handful of 8-story apartment towers in the city, and only a couple that reached into the 9-to-10-story range, but none of them were located anywhere near the intersection of Diversey and Park Avenues.

  [The Brewster, Chicago, National Historic Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The area around Edwards' planned Lincoln Park Palace was still pretty suburban-like in appearance even as dense city living was slowly inching its way north, and it took another decade before the tightly-packed neighborhood of today started to encroach on the primarily single family district of the 1890s. The area had an upscale feel to it, with large homes on large lots and a smattering of large, 2-story, stone-fronted townhouses with generous interior floor plans. So when the neighbors heard of Edwards' plans they weren't very happy and felt that the project was completely overscaled for the area. In spite of the community's concerns Edwards' project went forward under the supervision of Chicago architect Enoch Turnock, a former employee of William LeBaron Jenney one of the city's most forward thinking and innovative commercial tall building designers.

  [The Brewster, Chicago, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Turnock's rusticated stone exterior capped by an elaborate frieze and cornice, masked a multi-layered interior that only residents and their guests would get to see. The building's narrow, interior light court was a visually dynamic solution to multi-level accessibility, and a relatively uncommon sight in the city. The famous Mecca Flats on the south side of Chicago contained a massive light-filled interior court, but since it was broader, more open, and only 4-stories tall, the impact was different. The stairways found in the Monadnock and Rookery Buildings in the central business district provided their own sense of stair climbing drama, but the vertical passageways were more enclosed, and their commercial designs were meant to house office workers not apartment dwellers. Turnock may have found inspiration in the multi-storied light court of architects Edward Bauman and Harris Huehl's now demolished Chamber of Commerce Building at the corner of La Salle and Washington Streets, one of the most structurally innovative buildings of 1889. Bjoerne Edwards didn't get to see his high-rise project completed. While inspecting the building he fell from the roof of the light court and died on July 31, 1895 from the injuries he sustained after hitting the floor 8-stories below. He left his wife an estate encumbered with debt, and in order to clear-up the mess she sold her share of the Lincoln Park Palace in January, 1901 for $75,506.76 to one of the building's investors, Henry Strong. The Lake Geneva, Wisconsin resident was busy buying-up other Chicago property that winter including a 3-story flat and store building on the northwest corner of Chicago Avenue and Paulina Street for which he paid a tidy $33,000. Strong changed the name of the Lincoln Park Palace to the Brewster, and as the neighborhood around the building morphed into what we see today, the main entrance of the building was moved around the corner to the former "Ladies Entrance" on Pine Grove. Mrs. Edwards moved from her Palace apartment into the 2-story greystone right next door which had been virtually swallowed-up by the construction of Edwards' towering structure. And, which it just so happens, is still standing today in the shadow of the tall, well-preserved, condominiumized, and multi-landmarked Brewster.