Chicago gains a Louis Sullivan or two

    What a sight for sore eyes. My eyes aren't even sore and I like it. The glass going in today at Haskell Barker Atwater. No, it's not a law firm. It's a group of three buildings from 1875 - 77. Louis Sullivan remodeled them in part in 1896.

    They look so good in this photo. Like they are supposed to be there. A city, the way a city ought to be. They even make the faux-old street light look good.

    The website of the restoration team Harboe Architects tells you,

    The Haskell, Barker and Atwater Buildings are three post-Chicago Fire masonry buildings along Wabash Avenue within the Sullivan Center Complex. The Haskell and Barker Buildings were built together in 1875.... They are four stories tall with a Classical Revival stone façade capped by a sheet metal cornice. In 1896, Louis Sullivan renovated the lower two floors of the Barker Building in cast iron with his unique style of ornamentation.... This work was for the Schlesinger and Mayer Department Store (which became Carson Pirie Scott - EL) and was the precurser to the work he completed two years later for the main Schlesinger and Mayer store at State and Madison.

    The ground floor ornament was covered in the 1930s and discovered under the metal paneling.

    During construction, a previously unknown Sullivan design for the Haskell Building was also uncovered....

    This Sullivan design is similar to the Barker Building's but added in 1903 and painted a dark bronze color.

    The Atwater Building was built in 1877 by Chicago’s first architect, John Mills van Osdel....

    The three buildings are among the few surviving post-Fire buildings in the Chicago Loop and the Sullivan façades are some of his few remaining works in Chicago.

    ... As part of the renovation of the entire Sullivan Center Complex, Harboe Architects was charged with restoring the facades closer to their original appearance and restoring the Sullivan designs on the Barker and Haskell Buildings. This work included removing layers of paint to restore the original masonry and cast iron, reconstructing the missing Atwater Building cornice, reconstructing missing stone and metal beltcourses, and restoring the Sullivan-designed portions of the Haskell and Barker Buildings.

    Detail, Louis Sullivan Remodeling, 18 S. Wabash; by Bob Thall
    The Chicago Landmarks site tells you:
    These buildings provide the best remaining example of what the east side of the Loop looked like prior to the skyscraper boom of the 1890s. ... The upper floors typify post-Fire architecture, with their distinctive round arches and decorative masonry.

    So glad we have them back. Douglas Gilbert of Harboe Architects, did the necessary detective work with Chicago's resident incarnation of Louis Sullivan, Tim Samuelson.

    On May 21st, Gilbert will discuss the restoration and the rediscovered Louis Sullivan designs at:
    “Uncovering Sullivan” Thursday, May 21, 12:15 pm, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington

    Top photo and tip from Julie Burros. Thanks Julie!
    Bottom photos by Harboe Architects.

    To our faithful readers. And even our more secular ones. Send us interesting photos and tips like the top one. Be our eyes on the street.
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