Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spirit of the Bee Hive/Chicago Style: Ornament Removed from Building attributed to Adler and Sullivan - No Louis Harmed in Process

An architectural mystery story.

The ornament on the 1884 building is gone. Where did it go, who did it, what was it like, and what's the history behind the structure on Chicago's State Street that bore the hand of the great architect Louis Sullivan? Read all about it - and see all the pictures - here.


BW said...

Great research! Can you tell us more about the theatre?

Lynn Becker said...

Well, BWChicago, I'm looking at the Cinema Treasures page, for the Orpheum Theatre, and I'm thinking you could probably tell us a lot about the theatre. As you mention in your post on this page, the old number for the theatre, 176-178 South State, translates, after Chicago renumbered its streets, to the new number 110 South State, which would place it in the old Beehive building.
This appears to be confirmed by this photograph, where, if you look closely, the windows at the third floor level above the huge entrance arch appear to match the square-arched windows of the Bee Hive as they appear in the rendering accompanying my story, and also match it in number - 5. Moreover, if you look at the windows of the building in the right of photograph, you can see that the more pointed arches of the third floor window also match those that appear in the northernmost building of the Bee Hive rendering. So it appears the buildings were first remodeled into the Bee Hive, then into the Orpheum, then into Richman Bros, and then the northern building ultimately became a Burger King. A lot of history for a pair of such generic looking buildings!

BW said...

I had a feeling I'd be able to answer my own question - though perhaps not quite in that manner!

After looking at it more closely, I'm only more confused. The Bee Hive opened in 1883 at 174-176 State, the modern 110-112, the location of The Men's Wearhouse. *This* was the building that became the Orpheum and later Burger King. In 1885 they expanded to 178 and 172 S State, which would have a narrower facade. I would assume this was the Sullivan renovation. They later vacated 178 which would be consistent with the rendering's massing (and the numbers on it), which came from the end of the store's life. So the rendering shown does not actually include the property that is now Ulta. The Richman building, now Ulta, was built in 1928-29 on the site of two buildings (one of which had been part of the Bee Hive, and later the Bijou Dream theater and amusement parlor, followed by a Rapp & Rapp remodeled candy store), and differed surprisingly little from the familiar Rainbow facade. A rendering appears on page 9 of the March 28, 1929 Tribune. Architects were Mundie and Jensen. This means the AIC page was in fact erroneous. Richman closed the store in 1977, and it subsequently became Fayva shoes.

The actual Bee Hive/Orpheum/Men's Wearhouse building, in turn, appears to have been built in 1872 or 1882. In 1937, the Orpheum closed and the building was either remodeled or replaced by Alfred S. Alschuler, Inc, as the Kitty Kelly shoe store. It underwent further renovation in 1955. It's unclear what happened between then and Burger King, but it's curious that the facade essentially matched Richman's.

A partial occupant history for that building is below:

December 8, 1872 - June 1, 1873 - A.H Miller, Jeweler
December 30, 1872 - July 22, 1882 - J.J. McGrath Paper Hangings
July 11, 1873 - Jan 1, 1874 - Cone & Strong Jewelers
Feb 18, 1883 - March 30, 1885 (Add 178) - July 1895 - Bee Hive
September 27, 1896 - M&B (Morgenthau & Bauland) Co.
May 23, 1897 - December 18, 1898 - Berry's Candy Bazaar
January 17, 1904 - Jan 8, 1905 - Globe Optical Store
July 29, 1906 - Washington Cloak Company
Feb 10, 1907 - Mar 10, 1923- JLS - $50,000 remodel, $20,000 on entrance,
Sep 8, 1937 - 1955? - Kitty Kelly Shoes - Remodeled by Alfred Alschuler
-Burger King
-Men's Wearhouse

Lynn Becker said...

Whoa, that's an exhaustive analysis! (Some day you'll have to tell me the sources you go to develop that complete list of tenants). I defer to your great research, although I'm still a little confused by the fact of how well the windows in Beehive rendering match those in the Orpheum photo. Another interesting factoid is that for years a page on the Art Institute site, "Louis Sullivan Buildings Extant in Chicago" listed Morgenthau, Bauland and Company at "108-14 S. State Street" and it was illustrated by a photo of that 1920's ornament at the roofline. That page has now disappeared - you're redirected to the Art Institute's Louis Sullivan Collection page, although it's cached, sans photo's, here:

Thanks again, BWChicago, for all the great info.

BW said...

All from the Trib. The photo and windows do match the rendering, and they are both from the same perspective, and they are the same buildings. They're just not the Richman/Ulta building-site, they're of the building-site just north of it (now Men's Wearhouse), and the demolished annex north of that (the more egyptian styled part). That's where the confusion of the Bee Hive being a story shorter came from - the Wearhouse building is shorter. The Bee Hive did in fact extend to a third building on part of the same site as Richman/Ulta, but that was not shown in the rendering. In other words, looking at the same view today as the rendering and Orpheum photos, we would be looking at the Men's Wearhouse and a portion of the Amalgamated Bank. Siry probably should have said Sullivan united *three* buildings, not two, and obviously the cornice was not continuous after all. is the new URL for that; that is the erroneous info I was talking about (which sources back to an appendix in recent editions of Hugh Morrison's book).

It's not totally clear to me whether the Men's Wearhouse building actually is the same as the Beehive/Orpheum building, but I tend to think so, given that the height matched.

BW said...

I was wrong, the Orpheum was not in this building but rather the one to the north which now is home to Men's Wearhouse. The Richman's building as it appeared in 1929 can be seen in the March 28, 1929 issue of the Tribune.

BW said...

I do think that the bee hive building was the same as the Orpheum, however. Everything is just shifted to the north. The three-bay section to the north was part of the Pike Block/Ayer Building, built in 1872 and demolished 1955. The three-bay section was later home to the Bijou Dream nickelodeon theater. So part of the Bee Hive still stands, but the facade is totally gone.