At this year’s Open House Chicago, sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, I went to see the interiors of buildings not normally open to the public. And what struck me most were the rich details…the ornate little extras, little treats for the eyes built in to the old spaces.
Whatever happened to those days of craftsmanship? When those little flourishes mattered? Now it seems that buildings are mundane. Character has disappeared in favor of efficiency, productivity, mass production and bottom lines.
Nope. They don’t make ’em like they used to!
In the Chicago Motor Club building (now a Hampton Inn), there is the muraled map of the old U.S. highways and parks, some exquisite– picture grandma’s-silver –detail around the elevators, and a wavy curve to the staircase in that same smooth silver.
A view of the Union Carbide Building (built in 1929, now the Hard Rock Hotel), supposedly built to resemble a champagne bottle with gold foil at the top…as seen from the Old Dearborn Bank Building (built in 1928, now the Virgin Hotel).
Built in 1926, this place is lusciously FULL of ornaments…Isis, seahorses, cats, jesters, plush red seats and elaborate lanterns and chandeliers.
An accurately scaled model of Chicago made in plastic…right down to the Bean.
Elevator floor indicator in the building that houses the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
The Fine Arts Building elevator…still manually operated, with a grated door and up/down bulbs, these elevators make the smoothest sound.
Practicing violins, pianos and voices echo through the stairwell of this old building, still an artists community, just as the Chicago’s Fine Arts Building was meant to be.
Well worn and appropriately detailed banister knobs in the stairwell of the Fine Arts Building in Chicago.
At the William Harris Lee & Company stringed instrument shop in the Fine Arts Building Chicago. Seeing these workstations where violins, violas, cellos, and stand-up basses are lovingly carved and brought to life was a highlight of the day! And who knew that a little File Gumbo spice is built-in?
At W.H. Lee & Company, Violins, Violas and Cellos wait. Fine Arts Building in Chicago.
Posted in: Chicago, Preservation
Tagged: © carol fletcher, art deco, building details, buildings, CAF, chicago, chicago architecture foundation, chicago motor club, details, fine arts building, history, OHC, old dearborn bank building, Open House Chicago, ornament, preserve history, santa fe building, union carbide