[Majestic Theatre Building - Bank of America Theatre (1906) Edmund R. Krause, architect; C.W. & George L. Rapp, associates /Image & Artwork: designlinger]
"Chicago has a new vaudeville theater and it is a beauty," gushed the Chicago Tribuneon January 2, 1906. Not only was the theater a beaut, but at 20-stories, architect Edmund Krause's ornately decorated Majestic Building was Chicago's tallest structure. It was also the first public auditorium built in the city following the horrific Iroquois Theatre fire that claimed the lives of over 700 matinee attendees in 1903. As a result of that disastrous event Chicago had the strictest fire regulations in the country, and the Majestic Theatre was the first to be built under those new stringent standards.
[Majestic Theatre Building - Bank of America Theatre, 22 W. Monroe Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] The building sat on a piece of land owned by the Chicago School Board. When the federal government had a survey map of the future city drawn-up in the early 1830s, Block 142 - between Madison Street, Monroe, Dearborn, and the western line of the U.S. Reservation (today's State Street) - was designated the School Reservation block. The commissioners who were overseeing the construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal set aside sections of land to be sold by the government to raise money for the public works project, and "reserved" a few parcels for a non-existent school district as a way to finance future public education.
[Majestic Theatre Building - Bank of America Theatre, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Eventually the school block was divided into individual lots fronting Dearborn and State, and tucked in between, three narrow 27-foot-wide lots fronting Madison and Monroe. In 1857 McVicker's Theatre opened on the three Madison Street facing lots - where a McVicker's named theater building stood until 1985 -whose back lot-line butted-up against the three narrow lots facing Monroe Street. Augusta Lehmann, who with her husband Ernest J. had founded one of the city's largest department stores The Fair, had taken a 99-year leasehold on the property in 1901 for which the Lehmann estate would pay the Board of Education $27,000 per annum. The property already had three 4-story, post-1871-fire, buildings standing on it which Augusta purchased, and in 1904 she had then demolished and hired Krause to design a modern, $1.3 million, income-producing office tower and theater.
[Majestic Theatre Building - Bank of America Theatre, Chicago Downtown Theatre District /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Vaudeville was the nation's most popular form of entertainment at the turn of the 20th century, and the new Majestic would be the city's premiere vaudeville house. The office space directly above the ground floor became of the home office of the Western Vaudeville Managers Association. The theater's opening bill included performances by the "8 Allsions" an acrobatic act, magician "Hermann the Great," and jugglers "Redford & Winchester." By the late 1920s as vaudeville's popular appeal was overtaken by motion pictures the theater fell on hard times, while the office portion of the building continued to generate revenue for the Lehmann estate.
[Majestic Theatre Building - Bank of America Theatre /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Augusta's heirs had an even harder time finding anyone interested in leasing the theater once the Great Depression took hold, and the beautiful auditorium sat vacant and unused for eleven years. Then in 1945 New York's Shubert organization stepped, and for $350,000 purchased the building and leasehold from the Lehmann's, and for the next 44 years the east coast producers brought Broadway productions to Chicago in the renamed the Shubert Theatre. By the early 1990's the organization, which once operated 7 theaters in the city, sold the property to their New York rivals the Nederlander's for $750,000. By that time the office portion of the aging structure was mostly vacant, and in 2005 the Nederlander group closed the building, renovated the theater, and converted the office space into a hotel managed by the Hampton Inn franchise. The naming rights to the theater were sold to a bank.
When Chicago businessman, hotel owner, and early resident Dexter Graves died in 1844 his earthly remains could no longer be deposited in the city cemetery at Chicago Avenue, but had to be transported up to the new cemetery located at North Avenue. The Chicago Common Council had passed a law in 1843 denying any further burials in the city-run graveyard that extended from Chicago Avenue to what would eventually become Oak Street; and from the Green Bay Road, which would become Rush Street, to the lake shore. The built-up portion
of the city was on a march northward in 1843, and North Avenue seemed
far enough away to establish a new cemetery far from town.
[Dexter Graves Monument - "Eternal Silence," Graceland Cemetery, 4001 N. Clark Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Dexter Graves saw a future in Chicago, and in 1831 and was able to convince thirteen of his Ashtabula, Ohio neighbors to gather-up their families and join Dexter, his wife, and their four young children on their journey west. When they arrived on the schooner "Telegraph" they found a cluster of log cabins built on sandy, marshy ground lined-up along the south branch of the Chicago River, west of the tall stockade fence of the old Fort Dearborn. Graves, a tavern owner in Ashtabula, built the hamlet's first frame house and opened a hotel called the Mansion House on Lake Street near what would soon become Dearborn Street. Dexter prospered, however 1844 was not a good year for the Graves family. In January daughter Lucy died at age 25, followed by her sister Emeline in February. When Dexter Graves died in April of that year at his State Street home, he bequeathed a comfortable financial legacy to his widow and daughter Louisa, to be overseen by his two sons Lorin and Henry.
The year after his father and sisters' deaths, Henry moved far out-of-town to his brother's cottage in a cottonwood grove south of the city, where a street would eventually be platted and graded called Cottage Grove Avenue. Henry immediately set to work building a 2-story frame house near his brother, and after Lorin's death in 1852 took over the management of their father's estate. Henry loved horses, especially trotters, so in 1854 he built the Garden City Racecourse at 55th Street and Cottage Grove. He acquired 400 acres of farmland near Kankakee, Illinois and raised a line a thoroughbred racers.
[Dexter Graves Monument - "Eternal Silence," City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
By the mid-1860s the Chicago City Council found itself once again having to deal with moving the North Avenue cemetery. The built-up portions of the city were once again encroaching on the formerly remote location of the city cemetery, just as the expanding population had done so 20 years earlier. So it was time to move the deceased from their not-so-final resting place to a new final place of rest, only this time to privately run cemeteries like Graceland and Rosehill. Along with many of their at rest neighbors, the graves of the Graves family were relocated to Graceland. In
1891 Henry's wife Clementine died, and when 86-year-old Henry took his
last breath on October 3, 1907 he died at home, in the 2-story frame house he had
built 62 years earlier. And it wasn't as though he couldn't afford to move - he
left an estate estimated in the $500,000 range which would translate to around $13 million today - he just never saw any
reason to leave a perfectly good house simply to show how rich he was.
[Dexter Graves Monument - "Eternal Silence" /Image & Artwork: designslinger] He saved his showmanship for the afterlife. With no immediate heirs to leave his fortune to, Henry instead willed $40,000 for the erection of a memorial fountain in commemoration of his favorite racer "Ike." The idea was to construct a statue of Ike in Washington Park standing astride a mound surrounded by a fountain filled with water to quench the thirst of parched horses. His will also directed that $250,000, about one-half of the entire estate, be used for the erection of a mausoleum at Graceland Cemetery in memory of his father Dexter, "to be opened to the public three times a week." Henry's mausoleum morphed into much less expensive free-standing monument in memory of his father, with a bronze figure designed by Chicago's pre-eminent sculptor Lorado Taft. The hooded, 10-foot-tall statue was named "Eternal Silence" by the artist, and although the city of Chicago eventually gobbled-up the surrounding neighborhood, no Graves had to be removed. See more of Graceland's monuments at: Potter & Bertha Palmer Mausoleum, Hoyt Family Monument, Marshall Field Family Memorial Monument, Martin Ryerson Mausoleum, Sullivan's Great Poem, and Stanford White's Final Design.
[John T. Davis Flats (1883) Iver. C. Zarbell, architect /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
In the early 1880s John T. Davis was on the hunt for real estate investments. He had taken over his father's wholesale dry goods company, increased sales volume and his income, and was looking for places to invest some of his cash. He not only found investment opportunities to his liking in his home city of St. Louis, but saw some potential in New York, Boston and Chicago. Stocks and bonds were all well and good, but a diversified portfolio containing solid real estate investments could offer secure returns for decades to come.
[John T. Davis Flats, 2100 Block, North Bissell Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
The real estate he purchased in Chicago seemed fraught with opportunity. Thisareaon the north side of town was close to built-up portions of the city, but still had a few large pieces of undeveloped land available on a former truck farm. The 1-square-mile section had been purchased by Connecticut businessman Joseph Sheffield in the 1850s. Sheffield was one of a number of New Englanders who saw Chicago as a place to make money and in 1850 he partnered with New Haven businessman Henry Farnum to finance the construction of a rail line that would stretch from Chicago to Rock Island, Illinois, establishing the first rail connection between the city and the mighty Mississippi. Along the way he also had an agent purchase the large section of land far from the city center located near today's heavily trafficked intersection where Halsted Street crosses Lincoln Avenue. Twenty years earlier it had been the site of a Potawatomi village. The area was flat and perfect for farming, so Sheffield rented the land to tenant farmers who trucked their goods into the city to be sold in the bustling produce market that lined the southern edge of the main branch of the Chicago River. By the 1860's the first streets were plotted and graded at the southern end of the section, and after the fire in 1871, rows of houses began cropping-up on the former farmland.
[John T. Davis Flats, Sheffield National Historic District. Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] In 1883, one year after Sheffield's death, John Davis purchased 16 vacant lots on either side of Bissell Street from Garfield (today's Dickens Street) north to Webster Avenue. Davis hired architect Iver C. Zarbell to design a group of row house apartments - or in Chicago verbiage "flats" - on each side of the block, which Davis hoped to rent to middle class businessmen and their families.
[John T. Davis Flats, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Zarbell mixed together a concoction of a variety of architectural styles of the day to enhance thefacades of the Davis rows. But rather than run the entire group as a conjoined row of houses, the architect allowed for a narrow breathing gap, or "gangway" between individual buildings. In the center of each block stood the largest of the group with ten flats per mansard-roofed structure, then on to six-flats, before shrinking down to 3-flats, for a total of 14 buildings in all. For added visual pleasure each flat combo contained its own unique compilation of detailing while holding on to a cohesive scheme. Some of the units contained up to 10-rooms which could be had for a rate of $20.00 per month, or approximately $458.13 in 2013.
[John T. Davis Flats, Bissell Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] The red brick block capped by a handsome mansard roofline, underwent an earth rumbling change when the first components of the steel structure supporting the tracks of the Northwest Elevated Railroad were constructed on January 23, 1896 at the intersection of Fullerton and Sheffield Avenues. Fullerton was a mere two blocks north of Webster, and Sheffield ran parallel to Bissell. The "L" would travel down the alley that separated Bissell and Sheffield, and the elevated structure would pass directly behind the row of houses on the west side of Bissell Street. Davis' row of flats not only survived the construction of the "L," the Great Depression, and the changing demographics of an urban neighborhood, but they are now located in an area that has become one of Chicago's choice residential locations, where Mr. Sheffield saw opportunity 160 years ago.
[University Station - Produce Terminal Cold Storage Building (1928) Henschein & McLaren, architects; (2006) adaptive reuse, Pappageorge Haymes, architects /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Inthe mid-1920s so much produce came into Chicago via railcar that the Burlington and Chicago & Northwestern yard at Wood and 16th Streets was known as the "Potato Yard," where more potatoes were shipped than anywhere else in the world.
[University Station - Produce Terminal Cold Storage Building, 1550 S. Blue Island Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Like the beating heart of a massive circulatory systemChicago sat at the center of North America's rail network. After the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad first laid tracks across the city landscape in 1848, as the railroad industry boomed, so did the number of rails crisscrossing city streets. By the early 1890s the volume of train traffic had increased to such levels that hundreds of miles of grade level tracks were not only causing traffic headaches, but an increase in pedestrian deaths and injuries. Imagine having to maneuver yourself in and around airport taxiways while trying to get from one side of town to another - the time had come for the city to take action.
[University Station - Produce Terminal Cold Storage Building, Blue Island Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
In 1893 the aldermen of the Special Committee for the Abolition of Grade Crossings recommended that their colleagues in the City Council approve a measure requiring the Illinois Central and Rock Island railroads to elevate their tracks within the city's borders. Soon all the other rail companies that had tracks laying within Chicago's corporate borders were required to follow suit. It took another 23 years, but by 1916 almost every single piece of steel rail that had once been at ground level was now 10 feet above grade level, resting on a man made embankment.
[University Station - Produce Terminal Cold Storage Building, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Along a stretch of west 16th Streetjust east of the Wood Street "Potato Yard," the Chicago & North Western and the ChicagoBurlington& Qunicyrailroads shared an 80-foot wide embankment that supported ten lines of track. The Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad had four lines running on an embankment that the railroad had constructed about 100 feet north of the C&NW/CB&Q elevated road bed, leaving a gap between these two concrete-lined piles of earth. Seeing an advantage in a narrow strip of land bookended by three major, continental-crossing rail lines, a syndicate was formed by Laurence Cuneo, Mary S. Cuneo, Peter Costa, Edward J. Ward and Frank E. Roth who purchased a gap-lined piece of property for $150,000. Plans for an 11-story, 300,000 square-foot, $2,000,000 cold storage facility at Blue Island Avenue and 15th Place with era-appropriate Art Deco flourishes were drawn-up by the architectural firm of Henschein & McLaren, and construction got underway in the summer of 1927.
[University Station - Produce Terminal Cold Storage Building /Image & Artwork: designslinger] The Cuneo family, like the Costa's, were long time produce wholesalers in the city and had played a large role in the relocation of the old produce market from South Water Street to nearby 15th and Morgan Streets in the early 1920s. With the massive "Potato" yard located just west of their site, the syndicate hoped to profit from the proximity to the adjacent rail lines and the new wholesale produce market around the corner. The 108-foot-wide by 278-foot-long structure was to be the first in a series of cold storage warehouses the group intended to build in the embankment-splitting-opening, but only Produce Terminal Cold Storage Building #1 ever saw the light-of-day. After serving as a storage facility for over seven decades, the building was converted into residential condominiums in 2006 under the guidance of architects Pappageorge Haymes. Today homeowners at University Station live sandwiched in between the still active rail lines of of the CSX and Union Pacific railroads, tucked inside the massive concrete structure like the variety of vegetables before them.
[Ludington Building (1892) Jenney & Mundie, architects /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Did he or didn't he design the first tall commercial high-rise supported entirely by a metal frame? That question has been debated ever since the "Father of the American Skyscraper" decided to try something new and design a skeletal framing system to support the Home Insurance Building in downtown Chicago in 1885. Some say yes, some say not quite. Whether he deserves the title or not, architect William Le Baron Jenney continued to push the limits of steel technology in tall building, while at the same time employing and training some the city's future brand name architects like Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, William Holabird & Martin Roche.
[Ludington Building, 1104 S. Wabash, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Twenty years before Jenney arrived in the city in 1868, NelsonLudington headed to Chicago to establish a branch of his Wisconsin and Michigan based lumber company. It was a good move on both their parts. Jenney became a famous architect and Ludington became a rich lumberman and banker. When Ludington died in 1883 he left his wife and two daughters an estate valued in the $800,000 range, and while providing for his wife during her lifetime, the bulk of the money was left to the two sisters. The oldest daughter Mary had caused quite a stir in 1868 when she married Charles J. Barnes, Midwest president and chairman of his family's A.S. Barnes & Co. publishing house. The Ludington-Barnes nuptials included a wedding reception hosted by the bride's father for an unheard of, and newspaper headline worthy, 2,000 guests. Younger daughter Jennie, whose wedding reception was somewhat more sedate, had married into the family business when she chose George Young a Denver-based lumberman as her husband. And although Mary and Jennie were the beneficiaries of their father's bounty, Ludington gave his sons-in-law oversight of their wives booty by naming them the executors.
[Ludington Building, National Hisotric Landmark /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Barnes & Co. was one of the top five publishers in the country of children's andschool textbooks. In 1890 Barnes, along with the three other top producers, formed the American Book Company to beat out top-spot holder Harper & Brothers. To facilitate the expanded Chicago operations Mary Ludington Barnes, with the approval of her executor and husband Charles, used some of the Ludington inheritance to build a commercial building on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Harmon Court (8th Street) and hired William Le Baron Jenney as their architect. The $400,000 eight-story building would house the offices of the American Book Company on floors 6 through 8, with light manufacturing below, and large display windows on the ground floor for what the Chicago Tribune called "a carriage repository." Jenney wrapped the exterior of his steel structural cage in a veneer of decorative terra-cotta - the largest entirely terra-cotta clad structure of its time - visually exposing the frame in way that other buildings with light steel frames buried their true structural nature in a cloak of heavy masonry.
[Ludington Building, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
In 1910 Charles Barnes retired, and in the same year American Book made plans to relocate from the Ludington Building on Wabash Avenue to 22nd Street and Calumet. Charles died in 1921 followed by Mary a year later. Their daughter Bertha had died in 1913 supposedly of a broken heart following the death of her husband James Clinch Smith on the Titanic in 1912. So the building and the remainder of the lucrative Ludington/Barnes estate was left to their sole surviving child, Nelson Ludington Barnes. Upon his death in 1939, the building and estate was passed to his three children, Mary Ludington Sudler, wife of real estate tycoon Louis C. Sulder, and her brothers John and Nelson, Jr. By the mid-1950s 60+ years of weather and coal soot had turned the exterior into a dingy, dirty mess so the heirs had a coat of white paint slapped on to the dark brown terra-cotta in an attempt to brighten things up a bit. In 1960 the family decided that the time had finally come to sell their namesake building and in stepped Roy Warshawsky. His father Israel had come to Chicago from Lithuania in 1915 and began selling used auto parts at the corner of State Street and Archer Avenue. By the time Roy purchased the Ludington Building, Warshawsky was the largest direct mail auto parts supplier in the country.
[St. Clement Church (1918) Barnett Haynes & Barnett, architects /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Between 1850 and 1900 so many people from the loosely defined confederation of states, duchies and kingdoms that we know today as Germany migrated to the city of Chicago, that by the turn of the 20th century one in four Chicagoans had either arrived in the city from that Northern European region, or had a parent who had done so. Germans outnumbered the second largest ethnic group, the Irish, by two-to-one.
[St. Clement Church, 642 W. Deming Place, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
With those kinds of numbers German immigrants and their children could be found in clusters all around the city, but a large majority settled on Chicago's north side. And like many of their fellow migrants, the German speaking settlers organized religious institutions in their common language neighborhoods, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. If you came from the northern states of the Germanic empire you were mostly likely a follower of Luther, while to the south you followed the doctrines set by the Pope in Rome. One of the first Catholic parishes in Chicago, St. Joseph's, was organized by north side German dwellers in 1846, followed soon thereafter by St. Michael's in 1852.
[St. Clement Church, Lake View, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Adam Kasper's parents left their home in southern Germany in the late 1830s, came to America in search of a better life, and settled in Indiana. But by the time Adam turned 16 in 1858, he'd decided, like his parents before him, better opportunities were going to be found elsewhere. So the ambitious teenager packed his bags and headed to the emerging metropolis of Chicago to seek his fortune. After a career working his way up the ladder and establishing himself in the city's multi-million-dollar generating wholesale grocery industry, A.J. Kasper & Co. became one of the city's more successful coffee, tea and spice wholesale concerns. By the mid-1890s, and with his financial success secured, this father of five sons and four daughters moved his family from their home on Ridge Avenue in Evanston and into a much larger single family dwelling in the city. Deming Place was lined with large houses on generous lots owned by a number of successful businessmen with German sounding surnames, so the Kasper's fit right in. After a few years in the neighborhood, Kasper got some of his fellow German Catholic neighbors together and decided that the time had come to build a church closer to home. It was quite a trek down to the German speaking parish of St. Michael's, and although the German led masses at St. Alphonsus were a little nearer, Kasper and his neighbors Frank Ehlen and Louis Hugel decided to petition the Catholic archbishop James Quigley and ask to establish a parish in their neck of the woods. It was the last of the German Catholic identified churches to be established in the city.
[St. Clement Church, Deming Place, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Quigley gave the okay, and in 1905 appointed 30-year-old Francis A. Rempe as pastor while Kasper started rasing the funds needed to build a school and church building. For the next 10 years the parishioners of St. Clement worshipped in a space tucked inside the school building. In 1915 Kasper put into motion plans to build a free-standing church edifice across the street from the school/church building on the corner of Deming Place and Orchard Street, and just a half a block from his own home. With seed money in hand, Rempe chose the architectural firm of Barnett Haynes & Barnett to design a house of worship along the lines of the Roman Catholic cathedral in St. Louis which the designers had recently completed. Work got underway in the summer of 1917, and the cornerstone was laid that September.
One year later on September 8, 1918 the new Byzantine-inspired St. Clement Church was dedicated by Chicago's new archbishop George Mundelein - who on his father's side was of German descent. Now Kasper could stroll down Deming Place to Chicago's most spectacular example of early Christian architecture. The financially successful wholesaler tuned the business over to his sons the following year, and days after celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary on September 8, 1924 Kasper collapsed on the fairway of the Edgewater Golf Club and died of a heart attack at age 72. His wake was held in the living room of his home and his coffin was carried down the street to St. Clement for a funeral mass. Because of his efforts and his never-ending financial support the church's rose window was dedicated in his name. The Kapser home no longer stands on Deming, but his fellow founder Frank Eheln's small frame cottage still stands over on Burling Street, and Louis Hugel's handsome two-story greystone can still be found on nearby Wrightwood Avenue.
[Holy Name Cathedral (1875) Patrick C. Keeley, architect; (1893) Willett & Pashley, architects; (1914) Henry J. Schlacks, architect; (1969) C.F. Murphy & Asoociates, architects /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
On December 9, 1853 under the banner headline New Catholic Church, the Chicago Tribune had this to say about the diocese's new cathedral, "The only regret we have is in the fact that a building so beautiful in all of its proportions is to contribute to the aggrandisement of a powerful, aggressive, and as we believe dangerous hierarchy perfectly organized and directed by men of great sagacity and untiring energy." So sayeth the Tribune about the 84-foot wide by 194-foot long edifice under construction on the city's north side. It would be Chicago's largest house of worship.
[Holy Name Cathedral, 730 N. State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Bishop James Van de Velde had made the decision to move the cathedra from its perch at St. Mary's of the Lake Cathedral on Wabash and Madison Streets up to the north side of the city where the Catholic bishopric owned a large chunk of land bordered by Huron and Chicago Avenues, and today's State Street and Wabash Avenue. The city's first bishop William Quarter had established the University of St. Mary's of the Lake on the northern half of the block in 1844, and as the city's population edged northward Van de Velde decided to use a piece of the southern half of the property for the new cathedral. The University had a small chapel, the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus on the site, so the Bishop decided that once the new building was completed the chapel would be closed and that the name would be shifted over to the prominent new location of the bishop's chair. But Van de Velde's tenure overseeing the expanding western Catholic outpost was drawing to a close, so that by the time the new cathedral was completed in 1854 Anthony O'Regan was in the bishop's seat.
[Holy Name Cathedral, North State Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] The imposing $100,000 structure at the southeast corner of State and Superior Streets was left barely standing after the fire in 1871 had leveled the surrounding neighborhood. Only the tower of St. James Episcopal Cathedral located around the corner and the tower of the water works on Chicago Avenue stood defiantly among the debris. By this time O'Regan was gone and the current bishop, James Duggan, was living in a sanatorium recovering from a nervous breakdown. So it fell to Coadjutor Bishop Thomas Foley to decide what to do next. A temporary wood structure was built behind the burnt-out brick building and Foley set about building a new cathedral, but this time on the north side of Superior at the northeast corner of State. He picked New York architect Patrick Keeley to design a church on an even grander scale, and Keeley, whose portfolio was packed with ecclesiastical wonders, filled the bill.
[Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Keeley chose native Joliet limestone, the same masonry used on nearby St. James and the water works, for the exterior, and embellished the entire structure, both inside and out, with Gothic flourishes. Apparently Keeley's interior wasn't quite stately enough for the city's first archbishop Patrick Feehan who now governed the nation's second largest Catholic population. So Feehan undertook a major 3-year restoration of the entire 15-year-old building in 1890, which included magnificently enhancing the interior. Architects Willett & Pashley oversaw the installation of imported Italian marble for the columns, walls and altar, while the windows openings were filled with painted art glass and the ceiling was turned into an intricate assemblage of pieces of carved walnut enhanced with gold leaf and a series of murals. True to form the Tribune once again took "a useless and gluttonous priesthood" to task bemoaning the fact that "the Protestant people of Chicago should be obliged to feed, clothe and warm hundreds of Catholic Irish poor." Therefore speaking "On behalf of the Protestant brethren of this city" instead of spending great sums of money on decorating their "great barn of a cathedral, the built-fed Catholic clergymen" should "fit-out the interior as an almshouse, and the Bishop's palace as an infirmary, and by all means let the Catholics take care of the Catholic poor."
[Holy Name Cathedral, Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament /Image & Artwork: designslinger] More changes were on the way for the cathedral building, helped along by the doctrinal changes instituted by the Second Vatican Council. By the mid-1960s the 90-year-old structure was sinking in Chicago's spongy soil. The roof needed replacing, the interior needed a thorough cleaning, and the altar now needed to face the congregation instead of the wall. So in April 1968 the cathedral was closed, and under the direction of Archbishop John Cardinal Cody the building underwent a massive restoration and updating. Structural repairs were undertaken, the old Italian marble altar was removed, and a new 10-ton, Argentine marble altar was installed. The old wood floor was taken-up, a new basement was built. The disintegrating painted glass windows were replaced with stained glass, and the ceiling was given a polish, and the $2.5 million restoration was completed in time for midnight mass, Christmas Eve 1969. The Tribune praised the redo this time around, but about 100 people protested outside decrying the use of church funds for a building rather than for helping the poor. Forty years later the 133-year-old building was in need of another new roof, and a refurbishment of the wood ceiling. In the early hours of a February morning in 2009, for the second time in the church's history, a fire nearly destroyed the cathedral. Firemen quickly responded to flames that had broken-out in the attic of the roof and although there was massive amounts of water to deal with in the aftermath, the quick response had saved the building. When the restoration was complete, no onecomplained about the expense. See more of the neighborhood's other bishop's seat at: St. James Cathedral, Chicago, and more from Willett & Pashley at: It's Good to be Cardinal.
[Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Building (1908) Christian A. Eckstorm, architect /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
What do you get when you combine a scale, a windmill and a gas powered engine? The makings of Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Over time, add to that a variety of other items like washing machines, radios, air conditioners, diesel engines, locomotives and fire hydrants - and you have the company brothers Thaddeus and Erastus Fairbanks started in 1829.
[Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Building, 900 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
In 1824 E. & T. Fairbanks began making cast iron plows in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. They then began manufacturingmachinery used in the hemp dressing business which led Thaddeus to patent a design for a large platform scale that could be used to weigh agricultural products like bales of hemp. His scale designs didn't end there, and soon E.& T. Fairbanks & Co. were making larger and larger capacity platform scales that you could drive a wagon on to, weigh the load, unload the contents, re-weigh the empty wagon, subtract its weight, and move on to the next load of corn, hay, coal, or even steel. Since manufacturing the scales was a major undertaking, Fairbanks & Co. set-up shops around the country and overseas in England. In 1853, 20-year-old Charles Hosmer Morse, a St. Johnsbury native, joined in his uncle in the Boston office of the Fairbanks company in an entry-level clerk position. It wasn't long before Morse found his calling as a sales rep and was sent to Chicago in 1855 to set-up a Fairbanks outpost with L.L. Greenleaf. After spending three years in Cincinnati establishing a Fairbanks presence in that part of the country, Morse returned to Chicago in 1869 and rejoined the Fairbanks, Greenleaf & Co. office.
[Fairbanks, Morse & Co., National Historic Landmark, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Morse, like many post-fire Chicagoans wasn't going the let the destruction of his business by the Great Conflagration stop him in his tracks. He bought-out Greenleaf, renamed the business Fairbanks, Morse & Co., and used the city's central location in the vast expanse of the western United States to his advantage. His territory covered everything from the Allegheny Mountains west to the Pacific Ocean, and by the turn of the 20th century Fairbanks, Morse was not only in the scale business but had also become a leader in the production of the new-fangled gasoline powered engine. With business booming, Morse purchased a piece of property at the northeast corner of 16th Street and Wabash Avenue in 1906 and planned to spend $400,000 constructing a building from which he could oversee his ever expanding empire. Instead, in 1907 construction began on a new Fairbanks, Morse & Co. building at the southwest corner of Wabash Avenue and Eldridge Court (9th Street today).
[Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Building, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
The exterior of architect Christian Eckstorm's 7-story, loft-style building was enhanced by a decorative cast-iron frame that outlined the lower two floors. When the building was completed in March 1908 Morse moved his offices from Franklin and Monroe Streets to Wabash and Eldridge. The business hummed along as Morse expanded the company even farther into a variety of far flung business enterprises, and when he died on May 5, 1921, his two sons inherited the company and their father's multi-million dollar estate. Unfortunately Charles, Jr. and his brother Robert didn't see eye to eye. The first kerfuffle arose in 1936 when Charles tried to out fox his brother and launch a proxy fight. Things settled down for the next 20 years before Charles once again felt that under his brother and nephew's oversight, the company wasn't performing up to its full monetary potential. This very public and nasty proxy battle lasted 3 years before the dust settled and Fairbanks, Morse was spun-off into a series of industrial-based entities that are still in operation to this day. While the former headquarters building has been converted into loft condominiums, Fairbanks still produces scales.
[First Unitarian Church of Chicago (1897) Hull Memorial Chapel, William A. Otis, architect; (1931) Denison B. Hull, architect /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
In religious circles the Unitarians have historically stood out from the crowd as oneof the more liberal-minded institutions along with their older Universalist brethren. Christian-based Universalism came to the U.S. from England in 1793 with the belief that salvation was universally available to everyone without stipulations. They also took a stand on the more socially liberal side of things by supporting the separation of church and state, women's rights, the abolition of slavery, and numbered Chicagoans like George Pullman among their adherents. Unitarians organized themselves on this side of the Atlantic in 1825, and unlike the Universalists didn't believe that the Holy Trinity was made-up of three separate entities, but instead that the trio were all wrapped-up in the unity of one higher power. Unitarians were considered even more liberal and outside the mainstream of Christian doctrine than the Universalists.
[First Unitarian Church of Chicago, 5650 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger] Before Chicago became a city in 1837, both the UniversalistsandUnitarians had established congregations in the small hamlet. As the city grew, each joined other early-settler denominations and erected houses of worship near the courthouse square. From LaSalle Street east to Dearborn, the First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First Methodist, First Universalist, and First Unitarian were lined-up, steeple to steeple, along Washington Street. But as the Lake Street business district grew southward and started to encroach on the residential neighborhood, the churches began to move further east and south, this time along Wabash Avenue. The Universalists moved in 1857 followed by the Unitarians in 1863. And although their church building survived the Great Fire, the congregation headed even further south soon afterward settling-in on the corner of Michigan Avenue and 23rd Street in 1873.
[First Unitarian Church of Chicago, National Historic Landmark /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
Morton and Eudora Hull were long standing members of the Unitarian congregationand like many pioneer families followed the southward trek of their fellow congregants, and their church. In 1897, their son Morton and his sister Eudora decided to build a chapel in memory of their parents and in tribute to the family's longstanding fellowship with First Unitarian. University of Chicago president William Rainey Harper convinced the Hulls to build the parental memorial on a corner lot at 56th and Woodlawn adjacent to the university campus, and architect William Otis was given the commission. The chapel would be placed at the southwestern corner of the lot to allow for a much larger church edifice to be erected in the not-to-distant future - which didn't happen for 34 more years.
[First Unitarian Church of Chicago, Hyde Park /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
As the 1920s were drawing to a close, Morton Denison Hull, Harvard law graduate, former Illinois gubernatorial candidate, and U.S. Congressman from Illinois' 2nd District, pledged $500,000 to finally finish the job. The congressman's son just happened to be an architect and Denison Hull incorporated Otis' chapel into a "high church" English perpendicular design very much in keeping with the overall look and feel of the university's main campus buildings. Hull Memorial Chapel was now part and parcel of a larger sanctuary, along with a crypt down in the basement that made room for cinerary urns. One of the crypt's future occupants, 60-year-old Morton Hull died on August 20, 1937 and his ashes were placed soon thereafter in the basement burial chamber. In 1961 after a century of espousing similar beliefs while remaining separate entities, the Unitarians and Universalists joined together to become the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. While continuing their long tradition and expansive embrace of liberal tenets into the 21st century, the church building didn't fare as well. In 1991 the congregation spent $300,000 in an attempt to repair and preserve the crumbling brick and stone steeple but to no avail. After a thorough inspection in 2003, the 85-foot-high spire was found to be beyond repair and was dismantled. As the structure's steel framework was exposed during the demolition, it was determined that the decision had been the right one. Chicago's extreme weather conditions had not been kind to the corner tower's cap, rust had corroded the steel by as much as 3/4 of an inch, and had completely eaten through many of the rivets.
2014. It hasn't even started yet and already our calendar is overflowing. Lots to doatdesignslinger studio over the next 364 days in addition to a potential book project under consideration. So our publishing routine here at designslinger will be undergoing a bit of a change - we'll be posting once a week from now on - on Wednesdays.
But before we sign-off on this first day of our fourth January in Chicago, we want to wish our loyal readers, subscribers, and followers, a very Happy New Year! - and see you back here on the 8th.