West Loop Industrial Lofts

Tyler & Hippach Glass Company Building / William J. Cassidy Tire Building, Henry J. Schlacks, 1902, 344 N. Canal Street. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

West Loop Industrial Lofts

Eckhart & Swan Company Mill/ B.A. Eckhart Mill/ ADM Wheat Mill

Architects:                     Flanders and Zimmerman, William Carbys Zimmerman and John J. Flanders

Address:                        1300 West Carroll Avenue

Dates:                             1897 with additions in 1910. Grain elevators in 1927 and grain silos in 1948

Style:                              Chicago Vernacular Mill Construction Factory Loft Building

Neighborhoods:            West Loop/Fulton Market District

Tyler & Hippach Glass Company Building / William J. Cassidy Tire Building

Architects:                     Henry J. Schlacks

Address:                         Originally at 117–125 N. Clinton Street later moved to 344 N. Canal Street

Dates:                             1902

Style:                              Chicago School Style, Chicago Commercial Style

Neighborhoods:             West Loop/ Wolf Point

 

Braun & Fitts Butterine Factory / Wrigley Lodge / Salvation Army

 Architects:                    Furst & Rudolph, with Art Deco/Art Moderne Remodeling by Albert C. Fehlow

Address:                         509 N. Union Avenue

Dates:                             1891, with Art Deco/Art Moderne Remodeling in 1947

Style:                              Chicago Vernacular Mill Construction, with Art Moderne additions

Neighborhoods:             West Loop/ Wolf Point

OVERVIEW

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Chicago’s Loop central business district was surrounded by a ring of fine-quality industrial buildings. Often these loft buildings were of mill construction, and typically employed masonry construction on its exterior facades, with a heavy timber structure behind. This was  later followed by fire-proof reinforced concrete construction methods, to accommodate the heavy loading required by many industrial uses of the era. These structures are often characterized by a brick façade and expansive windows to maximize natural light. Ceiling heights were tall, often ranging from 10 to 14 feet. They are typically low to mid-rise, often between three to seven stories and have a wide footprint.

Ornament in industrial buildings is typically restrained for reasons of economy, but many exhibit a high level of architectural design. Pride of ownership likely contributed to the attractive design. These industrial buildings were typically owned and built by the business owner and as such, the buildings came to represent the company to visitors including customers, vendors, and professionals. Additionally, these buildings served as collateral for business loans to support growth. As a result, many of Chicago’s finest architects were commissioned to design these buildings.

Henry J. Schlacks is best known for designing some of Chicago’s most beautiful Roman Catholic churches. Certainly, there were vast differences between designing religious buildings and an industrial building. When he was hired in 1902 to design a new factory and headquarters for the Tyler & Hippach Glass Company Building, Schlacks applied his architectural brilliance to this very different genre and focused on material, massing, and composition. The results were an impressive building and an outstanding example of the “Chicago School or the Chicago Commercial style.”

The same design elements that were so important to industrial users in the late 19th century, including wide, open floor plans, expansive windows to maximize natural light, tall ceilings, and fireproof construction are many of the same design elements that are important to contemporary residential developers and residents. This helps to explain the success and desirability of many of the Chicago School Industrial buildings that have been converted to condos or apartments.

While many Chicago School Industrial buildings have been successfully converted to residential or office lofts, those that remained industrial have more recently been targeted for demolition and replacement by developers of high-rise residential or office towers. The proximity to the Loop central business district makes the location attractive to developers looking to convert an industrial use to a residential or office use.  Additionally, the typical wide footprint covered by a single building and owned by a single entity creates an ideal site for a new high-rise tower which requires a large parking garage on the lower floors.  

Chicago School industrial buildings are highly adaptable for residential or office use, but the critical factor that determines whether a developer will choose conversion or demolition is typically the underlying zoning. If the height allowed by the zoning generally matches the existing building, then developers typically find it more economical to adaptively reuse the existing historic building and convert it to residential or office. 

However, if there is a zoning mismatch where the underlying zoning allows for a building that is twice, five times, or even 10 times taller than the existing building, this essentially ensures the demolition of the historic building. The potential profits from a 25-story building versus a five-story building are simply overwhelming. Regardless of the quality or significance of the building, even if the historic building were built of solid gold, the zoning mismatch seals the ultimate fate of the structure and condemns it to demolition. The primary method to redirect these powerful market forces into a more preservation-sensitive direction are to adjust zoning to match the historic buildings or in certain extraordinary cases to designate the building as a Chicago Landmark.

ADM Mill, 1300 W. Carroll Ave. Photo Credit: Serhii Chrucky
ADM Mill. Photo Credit: Serhii Chrucky

Eckhart & Swan Company Wheat Mill

OVERVIEW: Eckhart & Swan Company Wheat Mill

Once a gritty and hard-working meatpacking district, the Fulton Market District has rapidly been transformed into a trendy destination with many new bars, restaurants, residences and offices.The significant reinvestment and rapid development caused the demolition of many of the historic industrial buildings which once dominated this district.

Fortunately, in 2015 approximately 85 historic industrial buildings were protected from demolition or inappropriate modification as they were included as contributing buildings in the Fulton-Randolph Market Landmark District. Within the Landmark District, many of the contributing historic buildings have been or are currently in the process of being renovated or incorporated into new construction in a preservation-sensitive way. The Landmark District has not slowed the transformation, but has helped to redirect and shape it so that the character of the district would not be lost.

Unfortunately, the Fulton-Randolph Market Landmark District covered only approximately 12 blocks of the approximately 50 blocks that comprise the neighborhood. The majority of the historic industrial buildings in the West Loop are beyond the Landmark District boundaries and are therefore unprotected and are at risk for demolition. Not surprisingly, many of the historic buildings close to the Landmark District, but beyond its borders and without protection, have been in the first wave of demolition and replacement.

Recent losses include the Chicago Machinery Building designed by D.H. Burnham & Company in 1910.  Formerly located at 1217 W. Washington, it was a three-story commercial and industrial building with an outstanding highly ornamented façade and an elaborately detailed cornice. The white glazed brick contrasted beautifully with the maroon-colored ornament and arched window openings. Despite an intensive preservation advocacy effort, it was demolished in January 2018.

The Hollenbach Building at 808 W. Lake Street was designed by Worthmann & Steinbach for Hollenbach Seed Company in 1912. It was a three-story red brick elegant building with terra cotta ornament and an articulated cornice. Though located only a few hundred feet from the protections of the Fulton-Randolph Market Landmark District, it was demolished in January 2021. 

In both cases, the final decision regarding the fate of the historic building rested solely on the whim of the developer.  In both cases, the historic facades could have been incorporated into the new construction.  In both cases, the developers chose not to bother spending the time, energy or effort to save the historic facades.

HISTORY: Eckhart & Swan Company Wheat Mill

The Eckhart & Swan Company/ B.A. Eckhart Milling /ADM Wheat Mill and Silo complex at 1300 West Carroll Avenue at the west end of the Fulton Market District is an amazing series of buildings which should have been creatively reused for an innovative development. The existing 250,000-square-foot ADM mill facility sits on a 2.2-acre site and includes a series of brick loft buildings ranging from three to six stories tall and a soaring concrete structure with more than a dozen silos. The oldest buildings in the complex were built in 1897 and were designed by William Carbys Zimmerman and John J. Flanders.  It was reportedly the largest mill in Illinois at the time it was built.

The grain elevator was designed by M. A. Lang in 1927 and the grain silos were built by Bulley and Andrews in 1948. The complex was in constant operation until it was shuttered by ADM in 2019.  It was reported to be Chicago’s last active grain elevator.  

Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 with a population of approximately 4,000. Within less than 20 years, Chicago had emerged as the grain capital of the world. The explosive growth of the wheat and grain production was made possible by two revolutionary agricultural inventions of the 1830s; John Deere’s steel plow and Cyrus Hall McCormick’s Mechanical Reaper. Chicago was surrounded by a “prairie sea” comprised of very rich and very tough sod. The steel plow allowed midwestern farmers to easily till the tough prairie soil and the McCormick Reaper allowed them to efficiently reap all that they had sowed. By 1854, Chicago emerged as the busiest grain port in the world.

Grain was one of the major industries upon which Chicago was built. It spurred the growth of the railroads and commodities futures trading which are represented by Chicago Union Station and the Chicago Board of Trade building. In fact, the 31-foot-tall statue which stands atop the Art Deco Chicago Board of Trade building is Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain with a sheaf of wheat in her left hand. 

As poet Carl Sandburg wrote in his legendary poem “Chicago”:

Hog Butcher for the World,  

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, 

Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler; 

Stormy, husky, brawling, 

City of the Big Shoulders.

 

The mill and silo buildings provide a direct connection to Chicago’s historic wheat industry and should be both recognized and protected.

THREAT: Eckhart & Swan Company Wheat Mill

Shortly after Archer Daniels Midland announced plans to close the historic wheat plant in June 2017, the property was sold to Sterling Bay, one of the most active  developers in the Fulton Market District and Chicago. Preservation Chicago met with Sterling Bay to encourage adaptive reuse of at least some portion of the historic building complex. Sterling Bay has experience with the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and initial renderings released by Sterling Bay in January 2020 indicated the adaptive reuse of the 6-story mill building and a few of the silos. 

Preservation Chicago would have celebrated the development if it had proceeded per the rendering. It would have been a creative adaptive reuse that recognized and honored this interesting building and the Chicago history it represents. It also would have represented a significant investment in the construction of a large, modern office building.

But the renderings were only conceptual and aspirational.  With no protections in place to prevent demolition of the historic building, a demolition permit was applied for, issued, and demolition commenced the following day in February 2021.  When pressed, Sterling Bay admitted that they planned to clear the entire site.

 RECOMMENDATIONS: Eckhart & Swan Company Wheat Mill

Experience developers know that it is far easier to develop a vacant lot than to replace a historic building, so they often will seek to demolish historic buildings prior to beginning the process of seeking approval for a new construction project. This way community stakeholders will be presented with the option of supporting either a building or a vacant lot.

The timing of the demolition is unfortunate, but not surprising.  Neither the specific development plan nor the necessary increased zoning request has yet been presented by the developer to the City, Alderman, or neighborhood. By the time these stakeholders have an opportunity to comment on the proposed development, all of the historic elements will have been demolished.  Any potential future negotiation to grant a highly valuable zoning increase in exchange for preserving some of the historic building has been eliminated by the timing of the demolition. 

Preservation Chicago recommends that the City of Chicago eliminate this problematic “scorched earth” loophole. If the demolition permit and construction permit were issued simultaneously, this issue would be addressed. One of the potential solutions is the City could require a two-year freeze on zoning increases for properties after they demolish a building 50 years or older, unless the demolition permit and construction permit were issued simultaneously. Another option would be to mandate detailed review of all demolition requests for buildings 50 years or older. Recommend reuse where appropriate, and place greater fees and building material reclamation requirements to foster more opportunities to consider reuse.

Cassidy Tire. Photo Credit: Serhii Chrucky

Tyler & Hippach Glass Company

HISTORY: Tyler & Hippach Glass Company

The Tyler & Hippach Mirror Company Factory / Wm. J. Cassidy Tire Building, located at 344 N. Canal Street, is threatened with demolition to make way for a new 33-story apartment tower.

Tyler & Hippach Glass Company was founded in 1887 and produced high quality glass and mirrors for furniture companies in Chicago and across the country. In 1902, they hired renowned architect Henry J. Schlacks to design their new headquarters and factory on Clinton Street. Schlacks was a highly accomplished architect who is better known for designing many of Chicago’s most beautiful churches.  He was no stranger to commercial architecture and began his architectural career working in the office of Dankmar Adler & Louis Sullivan. The building is an excellent example of a “Chicago School” or “Chicago Commercial Style” and is a fine example of a steel-framed structure of its era.

The Tyler & Hippach Glass Company was a leading glass manufacturer in Chicago during the late 19th and early 20th century, and research suggests that it likely glazed or supplied the glass windows and elements to many celebrated Chicago School buildings, many of which are designated Chicago Landmarks.  The Tyler & Hippach Glass Company name is not familiar to many Chicagoans today perhaps due to the extraordinary series of tragedies suffered by the family which owned the company. The Hippach Family was in the audience at the Iroquois Theater in 1903 and lost two children during the disastrous fire that impacted life safety standards across the country. After a European vacation, the family set sail in April 1912 on the maiden voyage of a new ship called the Titanic.

In 1906, the Chicago & North Western Railroad began planning the expansion of its West Loop terminal. The plans called for the purchase and demolition of blocks of buildings along the east side of Clinton Sstreet to erect the rail trestle from the new station that still exists today. Numerous early Chicago buildings were razed to make way for construction of the rail trestle, including a number which the project engineer from the period noted were historic.

The recently completed Tyler & Hippach factory building also stood in the way of the rail expansion. However, it was determined that the five‐story factory building was too valuable to demolish, so alternate plans were made to lift and move the entire building out of harm’s way.

The Chicago & North Western Rail Company purchased the building from Tyler & Hippach and made plans to move the entire 6,000-ton structure approximately 220 feet to the south and east. William Grace & Company was hired, and they brought in Harvey Sheeler, a highly regarded engineer and building mover, to prepare plans to move the massive brick factory building. Sheeler had patented a system for moving large and heavy objects on steel rollers, a system which was celebrated for its great successes.

In 1908, tracks, screw jacks and teams of workers were assembled to move the building 52 feet south and 168 feet east to the building’s current location at 344 North Canal. At the time, Sheeler claimed it was the largest building ever moved. Others marveled that not a single crack formed in the masonry or that even one brick was loosened.

In 1908, The Engineering Record reported in their September 19, 1908, page 317 that it was the largest building move ever completed. This article from the period also noted details regarding the remarkable contribution of the original owners to Chicago’s architecture and their tragic personal story.

The factory remains largely intact from its original appearance. Most of the original windows remain in place, with the exception of in‐filled openings and newer units on the first and second floors on the north and south elevations.

 

THREATS & RECOMMENDATIONS: Preservation Chicago believes the building could be considered for Chicago Landmark designation as it was designed by a prominent architect. Other structures by Henry Schlacks are protected under a Chicago Landmark designation, and this is a rare surviving example of an industrial building by him.

Preservation Chicago has encouraged the City of Chicago to take steps to create a Chicago Landmark designation and encourage the developer to incorporate the Cassidy/Tyler & Hippach Glass Company Building into the larger residential development proposed for this site. There is ample room for both new and old to coexist.

Current zoning would allow for a 33-story building, but a zoning change is required to allow for a residential use and the proposed 50% increase in the total unit count from 228 to 343 units. Preservation Chicago strongly encouraged 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly to require that the historic building be incorporated into the new construction $150 million development plans as part of the zoning change.

We outreached to 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and to the developer, The Habitat Company, to encourage a preservation-sensitive project. Additionally, Preservation Chicago spoke in favor of preservation, adaptive reuse and incorporating the existing building into the new construction plans at the community meetings held in December 2019. 

After the community meeting, Alderman Reilly agreed to support the new development without any requirements for preservation. The project has moved through various City of Chicago approvals culminating in the approval of Chicago City Council in June 2020.

Salvation Army. Photo Credit: Serhii Chrucky

Wrigley Lodge / Salvation Army Building

OVERVIEW: Wrigley Lodge / Salvation Army Building

Due to skyrocketing valuations, the Salvation Army is planning to sell it’s building complex at 509 N. Union Avenue. The Salvation Army had considered renovating the four buildings on the site, but ultimately decided to offer the property for sale. The complex of buildings is expected to sell for between $30 million and $40 million. The underlying zoning would allow new development much taller and denser than the existing structures. 

The Wrigley Lodge / Salvation Army Building is a unique blend of two distinct architectural styles. A soaring Streamline Modern element joins the 5-and 6-story red brick industrial lofts to create wonderfully balanced asymmetry.The result is an iconic building.  Its distinctive appearance and important history make this building an important one to save.

HISTORY: Wrigley Lodge / Salvation Army Building

Wrigley Lodge / Salvation Army Building has an important history. The building was designed by C. J. Furst and Charles Rudolph in 1891. Furst & Rudolph also designed the stunning John York Store building at 1932 S. Halsted. Charles Rudolph later served as the Chicago Board of Education’s architect and designed many beautiful Chicago Public Schools including the James Mulligan Public School Building at 1855 N. Sheffield, which has since been converted into apartments.

The Wrigley Lodge / Salvation Army Building was originally built as the Braun & Fitts Butterine Factory in 1891. At that time, margarine was an innovative disruptor in the butter industry. The dairy industry was sufficiently threatened to wage a passionate lobbying campaign that resulted in the 1886 federal Margarine Act to hinder the growth of margarine through aggressive taxation and expensive licensing fees. The lobbying effort was also waged at the state level. Wisconsin, Michigan and multiple other states banned margarine completely, while in Illinois, the butter lobby was successful at getting a law enacted in 1897 to prohibit the coloring of margarine. Braun & Fitts considered moving its operations to Indiana, but ultimately decided to remain and challenge the constitutionality of the law. They continued to manufacture and color margarine with the expectation that they would be arrested. Arrests were made and after a series of trials, the law was struck down as unconstitutional in 1898. However, a new federal law imposing a 10 cent per pound tax on colored margarine was passed in 1902, which the Supreme Court upheld in the 1904 decision McCray v. United States. 

Ironically, in 1912, the building was sold to the butter manufacturer Dairy Farm Products Company. In 1916, it was purchased by William Wrigley Jr. and it returned to margarine production under the Downey-Farrell Company, a company in which Wrigley had a stake. In 1923, the building was sold to the Duz Company, a powdered soap manufacturer.

William Wrigley Jr. repurchased the building in 1929 with a very different intention. The Black Friday stock market crash occurred on October 25, 1929. Approximately one year later, Wrigley donated the property to the Salvation Army for use as a lodging house for unemployed men. A formal ceremony was held on October 23, 1930 to open the “New Start Lodge,” soon to be renamed the “Wrigley Lodge.” Lewis E. Myers, chairman of the Salvation Army’s board and president of the Chicago Board of Education, presided over the event, and it featured many prominent local civic and religious leaders as speakers. 

Wrigley Lodge had the capacity to lodge 1,200 men nightly and to feed over 2,000. But the goals were more broad and included rehabilitation services, paid employment opportunities within the buildings, and assistance in finding employment.  Baths were available and clothing was fumigated each night. Plans included the installation of a barber shop, tailor shop, and shoe repair shop, each to be manned by craftsmen found among the lodgers.  The craftsmen were to be paid, but their services were to be free to the lodgers.

The Wrigley Lodge served as a homeless shelter throughout the Great Depression and World War II.  Following the war, it increasingly served as a veterans’ rehabilitation center to assist returning servicemen.

After the war, the Salvation Army began a fundraising campaign to remodel the building, and on December 9, 1947, a permit was issued for the alterations. It was remodeled in the Streamline Moderne style including the striking, asymmetric, vertical entryway with glass block and rounded corners.

Streamline Moderne alterations designed by Albert C. Fehlow were made to the building in the late 1940s. Albert C. Fehlow designed multiple Art Deco buildings for the Salvation Army in the Midwest, including their St. Paul, Minnesota headquarters, the Navitas House in Detroit, and the Men’s Social Service Center at 61st and Wentworth in Chicago.

The newly remodeled building housed a rehabilitation center for homeless and disabled men and a thrift store, which helped fund the center’s operations and employed some of the men who resided in the building. The building’s new uses were necessitated in part by the planned demolition of the Salvation Army’s Central Social Services Center, which was scheduled to be torn down to build the Congress Expressway.

Once an important element of Chicago’s historic urban skyline, the number of rooftop water tanks in Chicago has declined steeply. However, the Salvation Army water tank atop the building was restored in 2017. The Salvation Army is to  be commended for restoring the building’s highly visible and iconic rooftop water tower and saving an important remnant of a once ubiquitous part of Chicago’s cityscape.

THREATS & RECOMMENDATIONS: Wrigley Lodge / Salvation Army Building

Due to skyrocketing valuations, the Salvation Army is planning to sell the building complex at 509 N. Union Avenue. The underlying zoning would allow new development much taller and denser than the existing structures. It is likely that a developer would demolish the historic buildings and clear the site.

The Salvation Army building is an outstanding structure that should be protected and preserved as part of any redevelopment of the site. Preservation Chicago encourages the Salvation Army, 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett, and the City of Chicago to make this a requirement upfront so that potential buyers will accommodate this in their plans from the outset.

West Loop Industrial Buildings Make Preservation Chicago’s Most Endangered Buildings List; This year’s list includes the Old Archer Daniels Midland Wheat Mill and the Tyler & Hippach Glass Company building, also known as the Cassidy Tire Company building, Mauricio Peña, Block Club Chicago, 2/24/21