The Architects and the City: Holabird & Roche of Chicago, 1880-1918 9780226076959, 0226076954

This book connects architectural history with urban history by looking at the work of a major architectural firm, Holabi

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The Architects and the City: Holabird & Roche of Chicago, 1880-1918
 9780226076959, 0226076954

Table of contents :
Acknowledgments (page vii)
Introduction (page ix)
PART ONE Starting Out, 1880-1883
1 The Founding of the Firm (page 3)
2 The Partners: William Holabird and Martin Roche (page 17)
PART TWO Boom Years, 1884-1893
3 The Firm (page 29)
4 Labor Unrest and the Creation of Fort Sheridan (page 49)
5 Capital, Technology, and the Tall Office Building: The Tacoma (page 65)
6 The Skyscraper and the City: The Marquette 1 (page 101)
7 The Skyscraper and the City: The Marquette 2 (page 121)
8 Along Leafy Avenues: William Holabird's Evanston (page 145)
PART THREE Turn of the Century, 1894-1907
9 The Firm (page 163)
10 State Street in the Nineties (page 183)
11 Theme and Variation: The Loft Building (page 207)
12 Terra Cotta on State Street: The Department Store and the Tall Shops Building (page 233)
13 Golfing in the Suburbs: The Glen View Golf and Polo Club (page 255)
14 Fishing in the Wilderness: The Coleman Lake Club (page 269)
PART FOUR An Expanding Practice, 1908-1918
15 The Firm (page 285)
16 Palaces of Democracy: The Business Hotel (page 313)
17 Civic Grandeur, Civic Squalor: Cook County Courthouse and Chicago City Hall (page 337)
18 Terra Cotta on South Michigan Avenue: Automobile Row (page 367)
19 At the Corner of Michigan and Monroe: The University Club and the Monroe Building (page 389)
20 The Architecture of Communications: Buildings for the Chicago Telephone Company (page 415)
21 By Way of Conclusion: The Three Arts Club, Holabird and Roche, and the American City (page 431)
Abbreviated Catalog of Works by Holabird & Roche, 1880-1918 (page 445)
Notes (page 471)
Sources of Information (page 509)
Index (page 511)

Citation preview


CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM A series editedby — Robert Bruegmann

Joan Draper

Wim de Wit David Van Zanten

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OTHER VOLUMES IN THE SERIES Joseph Connors The Robie House of Frank Lloyd Wright Joseph Siry Carson Pirte Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago Department Store John W. Stamper Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue: Planning and Development, 1900-1930 Sally A. Kitt Chappell Architecture and Planning of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, 1912-1936: Transforming Tradition


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Works in Chicago Architecture and Urbanism are supported in part by funds given in memory of Ann Lorenz Van Zanten and administered by the Chicago Historical Society. This work was aided by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts.

Robert Bruegmann is professor of architectural history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of Holabird && Roche/Holabird &8 Root: An Illustrated Catalog of Works, 1880-1940.

The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London ©1997 by The University of Chicago All rights reserved. Published 1997 Printed in the United States of America

06 05 04 03 02 01 00 99 98 97 123 4 5 ISBN: 0-226-07695-4 (cloth) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Bruegmann, Robert. The architects and the city: Holabird & Roche of Chicago, 1880-1918 / Robert Bruegmann.

p. cm.—(Chicago architecture and urbanism) “In cooperation with the Chicago Historical Society.” Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-226-07695-4 (cloth: alk. paper)

1. Holabird & Roche (Chicago, Ill.) 2. Chicago school of architecture (Movement) 3. Architecture—Buildings, structures, etc. I. Title. II. Series. NA737.H558B78 1997

720’ .92'277311—dc20 96-22151 CIP

This book is printed on acid-free paper.


Acknowledgments vii

Introduction ix

PART ONE Séarting Out, 1880-1883

1 The Founding of the Firm 3

2 The Partners: William Holabird and Martin Roche 17

3 The Firm ~ 29 The Tacoma 65

PART TWO Boom Years, 1884-1893

4 Labor Unrest and the Creation of Fort Sheridan _ 49 5 Capital, Technology, and the Tall Office Building:

6 The Skyscraper and the City: The Marquette 1 _ 101 7 The Skyscraper and the City: The Marquette 2 121 8 Along Leafy Avenues: William Holabird’s Evanston 145

9 The Firm 163 10. State Street in the Nineties 183

PART THREE Turn of the Century, 1894-1907

11. Theme and Variation: The Loft Building 207 12 ‘Terra Cotta on State Street: The Department Store and

the Tall Shops Building 233

Polo Club 255

13 Golfing in the Suburbs: The Glen View Golf and

14 Fishing in the Wilderness: The Coleman Lake Club 269

15 The Firm 285

PART FOUR An Expanding Practice, 1908-1918

16 Palaces of Democracy: The Business Hotel 313 17 Civic Grandeur, Civic Squalor: Cook County

Courthouse and Chicago City Hall 337 18 ‘Terra Cotta on South Michigan Avenue:

Automobile Row 367

19 At the Corner of Michigan and Monroe: The University

Club and the Monroe Building 389 20 The Architecture of Communications: Buildings for the

Chicago Telephone Company 415 21 By Way of Conclusion: The Three Arts Club,

Holabird & Roche, and the American City 431

1880-1918 445 Notes 471

Abbreviated Catalog of Works by Holabird & Roche,

Index 511 Maps 541

Sources of Information 509


I)... the nearly fifteen years I have been doing research on the firm of Holabird & Roche/Holabird & Root, I have received an enormous amount of help from many individuals and institutions. I have thanked many of them in the acknowledgments

section of the Holabird & Root catalog volumes published by Garland Publishing Company in 1991. If I do not repeat this voluminous list of names here, it is not for want of continued gratitude. What I shall do below is acknowledge those individuals and groups who aided me specifically on this narrative volume. I am once again deeply indebted to the Chicago Historical Society. Without the continuing cooperation of many individuals at this admirable institution this volume would never have appeared. I thank Harold Skramstad and Ellsworth Brown, former directors, and Douglas Greenberg, director; Larry Viskochil, until recently curator of prints and photographs; Eileen Flanagan of prints and drawings; and Janice McNeill, the Society’s librarian. For their staunch support of this project for many years 1 am especially indebted to Wim de Wit, formerly curator of the Society’s architectural collections and a strong supporter of this work; Scott LaFrance, curator of the Charles FMurphy Architectural Study Center until his recent and tragically early death; Margaret Kelly, acting curator of the collection; and Russell Lewis, assistant director for research and curatorial affairs, who has been involved with this project virtually from the start and who has been unfailingly enthusiastic and helpful. I am also extremely grateful to the Society for playing host to the Chicago Urban History seminar. Over the years the dedicated efforts and intellectual hospitality of stalwarts like Russell Lewis, Michael Ebner, and Ann Durkin Keating resulted in a series of meetings that have done much to expand my urban horizons.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Parts of the manuscript, or all of it, were read by Peter Hales, my colleague in the Department of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Perry Duis of the Department of History at the same institution, Sally Chappell, recently retired from the Art Department at De Paul University, Mark Burnette of the Evanston Historical Society, and Michael Ebner of the History Department at Lake Forest College. All these people offered excellent counsel. | am also grateful to my fellow editors in the series Chicago Architecture and Urbanism— David Van Zanten of Northwestern University, Joan Draper of the University of Colorado, and Wim de Wit, formerly of

the Chicago Historical Society and now of the Getty Trust in Santa Monica—for their willingness to include this book in the series. For sharing information and insights with me or challenging my thinking about some of the issues I raise in this book I thank Daniel Bluestone, ‘Thomas Hines, Scott Jorgenson, Katherine Solomonson, Mitchell Schwarzer, Eric Monkennen, Carol Willis, Eric Sandweis, and Gwendolyn Wright. I also thank Dennis McClendon of Chicago Cartographics, who not only provided the maps for both the catalog volumes and

this project, but also played a major role in shaping the content and served as the proverbial tireless fact checker. Finally, I thank several people at the University of Chicago Press, notably acquisi-

tions editors Karen Wilson, who stood by this project for ten years, and Susan Bielstein, who saw this volume to completion, manuscript editor Alice Bennett, who performed wonders in pulling together a manuscript produced in phases over many years and making it coherent, and designer Marianne Jankowski, who created the elegant format.



1. book grew out of an effort to understand the vast and varied man-made landscape that constitutes the Chicago metropolitan area and its hinterland. I set out to _ explore aspects of this story by carefully examining the enormous body of records available for one of America’s largest and most prominent architectural firms, the organization that started as Holabird & Simonds in 1880 and has continued to the present under successive partnership agreements as Holabird, Simonds & Roche; Holabird & Root; Holabird, Root & Burgee; and finally, once again, Holabird & Root. My work on this topic started when I arrived in Chicago in 1978 to teach at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Like many other newcomers I was at once attracted and repelled by the city, exhilarated by its sheer size and diversity but dismayed by the rawness and apparent disorder. I soon became aware that my reactions were typical. For over a century newcomers have had to come to terms with a place where huge industrial buildings jostle against modest single-family houses and miles of commercial

strips and rail yards all but overwhelm the occasional park or public building. In a search for the order behind this landscape, I started to look for a topic that could serve as a point of departure for investigation. At the time, Chicago was known in architectural history primarily as the place that had created the great commercial structures of the “Chicago School” of the 1880s and 1890s, the reform domestic work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his followers in the “Prairie School” in the early twentieth century, and the modernist work of Ludwig

Mies van der Rohe and his American followers in the postwar “second Chicago School.” For reasons I did not then fully understand, these buildings and their treatment in standard histories left me unmoved, so I looked elsewhere. What caught my eye was the set of spectacular stepped-back office buildings of the 1920s, among them ix

INTRODUCTION the Chicago Tribune, Palmolive, Board of Trade, and Civic Opera Buildings. To my amazement I could find very little serious writing about them, even though when they were built they were among the best known and most discussed structures in America. It turned out that one after another of the most compelling examples were by the same firm: Holabird & Root. On further inquiry I discovered that the firm still existed and that in 1979 it had donated to the Chicago Historical Society almost all of its drawings and other records created before 1945. I went to look. Thus began a project that has occupied me more or less continuously for over fifteen years. The first step, even before the monumental task of processing all the drawings at the Chicago Historical Society was completed, was an exhibition I curated there in 1980, with an accompanying essay on the firm in Chicago History. In this exhibition and essay I tried to create a framework for discussing the work of the firm outside the traditional plot of the two “Chicago schools” and to deal with the work not as part of the evolution of “progressive” styles but as a record of intervention by the architects into the built fabric of the city. Once the show was over, I had intended to move on to other work, but in 1982 Ann Van Zanten, then curator of the Society’s architectural collections, proposed transforming the manuscript catalog of the firm’s drawings into a small published catalog introduced by a series of short essays we would write. Shortly after I agreed to collaborate on this effort but before any substantial work was started, Ann’s life was tragically cut short, and the project continued under my direction.. The more I studied the drawings and other records, and the more | searched for information about the firm in the other collections of the Society, the more I realized how important these documents could be in revealing unexplored as-

| pects of the city’s history. Both the entries and the essays mushroomed as I found the materials necessary to flesh out the historical context of the firm’s work. Soon it became apparent that the project could no longer be shoehorned into a single volume, let alone the small-format book originally envisioned. At about that time an editor at Garland. Publishing Company proposed publishing the catalog separately in a multivolume edition. After years of labor by me and by students and volunteers at the Society under my direction, the three-volume catalog Holabird & Roche/ Holabird &8 Root: An Ilustrated Catalog of Works, 1880-1940 finally appeared in 1991. It documents over fifteen hundred projects for new buildings, substantial remodelings, interiors, and furniture designed by the firm between 1880 and 1940. In these volumes I attempted to collect and summarize as much information as could be found on the firm’s commissions, using the Holabird & Root archives at the Chicago Historical Society as well as a broad array of other materials. ‘This work, primarily documentary

rather than interpretive, forms the basic underpinnings of the present project. Although this book is intended as a self-contained narrative and has its own abridged x

IN T R ODUCTION catalog, anyone interested in the full documentation for any of the firm’s buildings should consult the catalog volumes. To make this easier, throughout this book I have supplied the entry number from the catalog after the initial reference to a Holabird &

Roche project. - _ |

This book is the first of a projected two-volume set whose goal is to examine the work of the firm from an interpretive historical perspective. This volume deals with 1880 to 1918, tracing the origins of the firm, its early work, its maturation in the boom years of the 1880s and early 1890s, and the slow but steady growth of expertise in many building types in the first two decades of the twentieth century, all under the leadership of the founding partners, William Holabird and Martin Roche. ‘The second volume will cover the years from 1919 to the early 1940s, including the work of the firm during the boom period of the 1920s, the lean years of the depression, and the war years. During the period covered in the second volume, the firm was dominated by a second generation of partners, including John A. Holabird and John Wellborn Root Jr. At first glance some of these dates may seem arbitrary. Ending this volume at the

end of World War I, for example, might seem illogical, since the founding partners both lived into the 1920s, John Holabird until 1923 and Martin Roche until 1927, and it was not until 1927 that the firm name changed from Holabird & Roche to Holabird & Root. But the name change only made official a transition that had been in progress since the mid-1910s, when the next generation first entered the office, so I have chosen to end this volume with World War I and start the second volume with the return to the office, immediately after the war, of the young men who would lead the second generation. Likewise I have used 1945, the date of John Holabird’s death, as the cutoff for the second generation, even though John Root lived until 1965. This reflects the fundamental changes that appeared in the firm and in the city in the postwar period and the cutoff date of the Holabird & Root donation to the Chicago Historical Society.

Organization and Goals of the Book I have tried to link two fields of study that I feel ought to be close cousins but in practice have been distant relatives. As | became increasingly aware in preparing this book, the rift between architectural history and urban history runs deep and presents a formidable challenge to any project of this kind. Much of the “urban history” of the past several decades has grown in response to the crisis of the central cities in the post-World War II years. Historians of the city xi

INTRODUCTION have been especially keen on identifying and exploring what is specifically “urban” in the development of our metropolitan regions. ‘They have concerned themselves with what they felt were the most fundamental elements that generated America’s great cities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, then left them vulnerable in the postwar years. Because of this interest, their focus was largely on the city center and on the elements in it that survived from the traditional industrial city. They have been less interested in what happened at the periphery of the metropolitan area. In addition, because the training of historians focuses primarily on social, political, and economic forces, on the printed word and the statistical table, they have often given short shrift to the fabric of the Euilt environment. Buildings, whether the apartment blocks along Haussmann’s boulevards or the early office buildings of late nineteenthcentury Chicago, are usually presented as illustrations of the effects of more basic historical forces. With a few notable exceptions, historians have tended not to see the design and construction of buildings as integral parts of the city’s development. Modern architectural history, on the other hand, grew out of a completely different set of concerns. Heavily influenced by the theoretical ideas of nineteenth-century art history, one branch of architectural history has been concerned with categorizing buildings according to either their aesthetic merit or how they fit into a great chain of stylistic development running from the pyramids to Versailles to the Villa Savoye. Another strain exhibits a strong impulse to see buildings in moral terms. Does a given building honestly express its function, its structure, the age in which it was built? Out of the effort to reconcile these often conflicting goals, much of recent architectural history has tried to correlate “progress” in programmatic and technical means with a succession of “progressive” styles, usually the creations of single, heroic designers. Once the canon of approved works was established, the architectural historian could go back to recover some of the social and economic factors that led to the production of a given building. But these factors, it was clearly implied, could never get to the heart of the design, since the role of art is to transcend the specific circumstances that led to it. Because what was important and less important was already determined, moreover, the architectural historian’s task was to flesh out the details of a story whose main lines were presumed to be known. The result has been a dramatic split between the city as seen by a historian and the city as seen by an architectural historian. Many of the biggest or most prominent structures in any American city barely appear in architectural history, and many of the major monuments of architectural history are extremely marginal in the tale told by

, the urban historian. The Holabird & Roche buildings most discussed in modernist architectural history were usually relatively inexpensive speculative structures at the fringes of the Loop that could be classified as belonging to the Chicago School. Alxii

IN T R OD UCTION though these buildings were not unknown to discerning viewers at the turn of the century, they did not for the most part elicit much comment, even in the architectural journals. Many other Holabird & Roche buildings from these years that are barely mentioned in modernist architectural history, on the other hand, loomed large on the cityscape. Few Chicagoans were unaware of the LaSalle Hotel, the Boston Store, or the Cook County Courthouse and Chicago City Hall. In trying to place the buildings of Holabird & Roche more firmly within the realm of urban history, I have paid little attention to many of the matters that have most engaged architectural historians. For example, I have made relatively little attempt to attribute designs to individual designers. Except in a few cases, this practice does not seem particularly fruitful. To say that Martin Roche “designed” the Tacoma Building is fundamentally misleading. Holabird & Roche, like many large twentiethcentury commercial architectural firms, was organized more like a business office than an artist’s studio, and almost all projects were the product of many hands. Although Martin Roche himself undoubtedly drew much of the ornamental detail for the Tacoma, evidence makes it clear that his partner William Holabird, as well as the client, Wirt D. Walker, the contractor, George A. Fuller, an elevator manufacturer, and a terra cotta salesman all played large roles in its creation. I hope that these essays will suggest something of the daily operation of the firm and how its members engaged with all the other players involved in creating the built environment. This book is meant to be a set of interlocking explorations into the operation of

the architects in the city. The Holabird & Roche material is ideal for this purpose because it covers so many building types with such extensive documentation. Although the high office building must be part of this discussion, many of the most illuminating building types have rarely appeared in architectural histories. The telephone switching station and automobile showroom provide fascinating evidence on the search for an appropriate expression for new pieces of the urban fabric. The design of a major military installation or a large city hotel illustrates the process of city building in miniature, since each constituted its own small world. The work at the Glen View Golf and Polo

Club or the Coleman Lake Club in northern Wisconsin provides a rare glimpse of the architects at the intersection of work and recreation. Writing this work presented substantial conceptual and organizational problems, in part the result of the immense scale of the enterprise. Between 1880 and 1940 Holabird & Roche was responsible for thousands of commissions, some built, others remaining on paper, ranging from tombstones and boiler room alterations to entire industrial and institutional complexes. Holabird & Roche worked on programs as diverse as racetrack grandstands and public housing projects, for sites all over the country and abroad, often making it difficult to imagine that the projects were all the work of


INT ROD UCTION the same architectural office. Yet there was clearly a kind of unity. After some acquain-

tance with the firm’s work, it is often not hard to pick out its other buildings, even when the buildings seem at first glance quite different. The great challenge was to convey some sense of this unity and at the same time to point out the particulars that best illuminate a specific time or place and shed light on the city building process. To deal with this problem, within each of the four major divisions of the book a chronological chapter on the organization, personnel, and business practices of the firm is followed by a set of detailed explorations of particular issues. [hus the chronological chapters (1, 3, 9, and 15), form a self-contained narrative. Each of the other chapters is organized around one or more specific topics. Some deal with the development of a given building type: for example, the department store on State Street in the years 1890-1910; others explore the workings of the real estate market, as in the creation of the speculative office building; still others trace the role of clients like the Chicago Telephone Company; the changing character of specific areas of the city like the corner of Monroe and Michigan; or the importance in Chicago history of a single landmark structure such as the Cook County Courthouse and Chicago City Hall. I hope by this method to balance the need for narrative unity with the possibility of extended exploration into topics that cannot fit within any single plot line. Another problem sprang directly from the nature of commercial architecture. Commercial architects, like all architects, functioned in part as artists. They tried to make their buildings beautiful as well as useful. But if they wanted to stay in business, they also functioned as businessmen. Like many businessmen, members of the Holabird & Roche firm did not feel it was in their best interest to indulge publicly in speculative musings or make known their aesthetic reactions to the work of their own firm and others. There are only a few scraps of evidence on what anyone in the firm thought

about the important architectural issues of the day—or about any subject, for that matter. I have tried to piece together what fragments I could find to give some sense of these men, but in the end access to them must be primarily through a close reading of their buildings. My desire to discover something of the point of view of the authors

behind the works has reinforced the decision to talk about minor as well as major buildings in the firm’s oeuvre. Sometimes a tiny bank in a rural area can reveal more about its creators than a skyscraper in the Loop. This, then, is a book about how the partners and employees at Holabird & Roche operated in the urban realm, how they used Chicago, its central business district, its neighborhoods, its suburbs, and its vast hinterlands as a place to build a career and make a living, to engage in civic and cultural activities, and to find relaxation and relief from urban pressures. It is about how their work shaped the city and how it reflected XIV

INTRODUCTION some of the most important forces in urban life during the years between the late nineteenth century and the end of World War I. It is a study of the architects and their city. One final point. I have tried to present the work of the architects from the standpoint of their own time and, whenever possible, to describe how their buildings were

seen and judged at that time. I attempt to show, for example, that the fixation by modernist historians on the few relatively undecorated loft and office buildings of the 1880s has led to an unbalanced picture of the work of the firm and the way it was received in its own day. But it is useless to suggest that I have achieved objectivity, a goal as futile as it is naive. The past is a shifting landscape that is seen anew by each successive era, and it is obvious that few scholars would engage in a study of this magnitude without a definite point of view. In case my own program is not immediately clear, let me state at the outset that I greatly admire both the work of the firm and the city it helped create. 1 believe, moreover, that the kind of architectural history that elevates the reputations of single iconoclastic creators over those of firms like Holabird & Roche, which were responsible for substantial portions of our cities, in the end demeans both profession and city and alienates the public. A book like this might be seen as a defense of the existing order of the city. It is true that the kinds of buildings designed by Holabird & Roche and presented here were commissioned by a relatively small segment of the American population, the segment that actively controlled day to day much of the production and wealth of the country. But I hope no one will read this work as an unthinking apology for the firm or for the American upper middle class it served, or as a call to return to some former golden age. The changes in Chicago during the years covered by this book were enormous, and they were often achieved at great cost. Although there is now a certain nostalgia for the city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was far from being a golden age. Even more than most American cities, Chicago was often harsh and turbulent in its social and political environments as well as in its physical and climatic ones. It cannot be denied that the attitudes of just such upper-middle-class citizens as William Holabird and Martin Roche, by upholding the status quo, could be considered partly responsible for the class dissension, labor unrest, and environmental problems of these years. I do not want to downplay these problems. In this book the labor trouble that in part led to the creation of Fort Sheridan, the invasion by commercial buildings of South Michigan Avenue, one of Chicago’s most prestigious residential areas, the widespread fear and resentment aroused by big buildings put up in the speculative frenzy of the 1880s and 1890s, and even the deforestation of the landscape of northern WisxV

INTRODUCTION consin by Chicago lumber interests are all episodes connected in one way or another

with the commissions of the firm. ee And yet for all these problems, Holabird. & Roche and its clients were engaged _ in an optimistic enterprise. They felt that the problems of change were temporary and were more than offset by the great increase in opportunities for all citizens. Certainly the architects and their clients created buildings that most citizens from that day to this have found both useful and aesthetically pleasing. For all its faults, the American political and economic context they worked in made possible, if not a golden age, at least a remarkable variety of living, working, and recreational environments. No previous society in history boasted more choices and chances for the population at large. Thus readers should feel free to see this book as a reminder of how design professionals and other citizens can operate in what appear to be chaotic and disturbing times yet create a built environment that can serve the needs of the present and future with dignity and grace.




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STARTING OUT, 1880-1883 The rapidity of Chicago’s growth is apparent from the window of the railcar. Entire neighborhoods are under construction as development leapfrogs outward, rushing forward in some places while bypassing other areas altogether, thus sparing their rural character. Even in neighborhoods built up all at the same time, development is uneven. In some neighborhoods single-family houses sitting behind large or small front yards adjoin apartment buildings and shops that come all the way out to the lot line. Some houses have bridges from the sidewalk to a raised first floor, reflecting the city’s decision in the 1850s to raise the street level above Chicago’s mud. In the finer neighborhoods, deed covenants and neighborhood pressure have led to more coherent rows of masonry houses, lining the streets in a display of ample means and love of comfort.’ The most remarkable characteristic of Chicago to many easterners was the large number of single-family detached houses. Although many were modest onestory flat-front cottages on small lots, they represented a momentous American social revolution. They signaled the development of an urban pattern in which a high percentage of the middle class could aspire to a single-family house, an option that had until recently been almost exclusively the domain of the wealthy. Extending in fingers from the business district are dense areas crisscrossed by railroad lines and filled with factories, warehouses, and other industrial establishments. These almost always inspire awe. “Huge, misshapen buildings appeared in flat spaces, amid hundreds of cars. Webs of railway tracks spread out dangerously in acres of marvelous intricacy, amid which men moved, sooty, grimy, sullen, and sickly,” is Hamlin Garland’s description in Rose of Dutcher’s Coolly.* Interspersed with the industrial areas are the famous ethnic working-class neighborhoods such as Bridgeport and Back of the Yards that provide the workforce for Chicago’s immense industrial machine. Then there are the slums, areas crowded with brick and frame tenements, devoid of amenities, housing thousands of the city’s poorest residents.


Finally, the train crosses the no-man’s-land of rail yards and freight houses to reach the edge of the central business district and railroad terminals. Leaving the train, the traveler joins the crush of people surging out of the cavernous train sheds onto the street. Near the station are hotels, warehouses, and other buildings catering to arriving and departing travelers and freight. Closer to the center of the Loop are loft districts where five- and six-story utilitarian brick warehouses form a tight semicircle to the north, west, and south of the central business district. A few blocks, and the traveler is at the very center of the Loop, the tight core of the business district created by the cable car circuit and later defined by the elevated railway lines. Here there are government buildings with stone facades along Clark and Dearborn, office buildings, department stores, and hotels farther east along State, Wabash, and Michigan.

THE FOUNDING OF THE FIRM The overwhelming impression is of movement and activity. In the Loop everything is congested. Pedestrians pack the sidewalks. The streets are filled with horsedrawn carriages, freight wagons, street railway cars, cable cars, and people everywhere, all in a hurry. “America is energetic, but Chicago is in a fever. It does not rest one moment, but goes on, on—ever ceaselessly ahead—to buying and selling and getting , gain. Everything is rapid, everything is keen. There are hardly any idlers on the streets. Everyone has an object in immediate view—and is walking fast to reach it,” Englishman C. B. Berry wrote in 1879.’ Chicago in 1880 was a noisy, exciting place, where anything seemed possible except to find time to reflect on the rush of events, their causes, or their consequences. In this tumultuous young city was founded, in 1880, the architectural firm of Holabird & Simonds.

644°. ..OLa0IN . | . .amily . 1.2 | Tee.

William Holabird

William Holabird, the elder of the founding partners, was born in Amenia Union, Holabird family t Duchess County, New York, in September 1854, one of three children of Samuel Drawn by John A. Beckley Holabird, an officer in the United States Army, and Mary Theodosta Grant =x, ),47,7 Irs detail Holabird.*° Young William apparently spent his childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, redrawn by Dennis while his father occupied posts around the country as he rose through the army ranks.11. = McClendon, 1996. Samuel Beckley Holabird 1826-1907 married 1849 to

Mary Theodosia Grant

Agnes Theodosia Holabird Mary A. Holabird William Holabird |

Agnes TheKurowsky Mary A. Willian Holabied Paul von married 1875 to

,7 . Maria Ford Augur

Mary Holabird Cornelia Baird Holabird -RobertGrantHolabird © Jane AugurHolabird John AugurHolabird William Holabird, Jr.

married to married 1902 to married to married 1917 to

William M. Cruikshank Leona Van Epps John Towne Dorothy Hackett

Mary Cruikshank John Towne | William Towne

Margaret Holabird William Holabird Jean Holabird Christopher Holabird

‘1904-1992stSCS 1918-1929 1927-

H&R fen members and ‘John Augur Holabird, Jr.

: STARTING OUT, 1880-1883 Samuel Beckley Holabird’s career was eventually capped in 1883 by his appointment as quartermaster general of the army with a rank of brigadier general. In this position he would secure his place in military history by inventing the pup tent and the canvas fatigue uniform. Despite a modest army salary, by the 1870s Samuel Beckley Holabird was quite affluent, if not wealthy, perhaps the result of trading in the New Orleans cotton futures market.”

William graduated from St. Paul High School in 1871. In 1873 he entered West Point, probably with some help from his father. His career at the Academy was far from smooth, judging from the scanty evidence available. He was expelled once, according to Holabird family legend, for rowing across the Hudson to Garrison, New York, the prototypical saloon town that seems to be found near all military installations.’ He was reinstated, apparently again with his father’s help, only to resign in 1875 in the wake of another disciplinary action. According to a much later account, William resigned because he had been “angered by being disciplined for breaking a camp rule to aid a sick comrade.” It is likely that this version of the story was obtained from the Holabird clan and represented the accepted, if perhaps selectively remembered, family oral tradition. A second, unauthorized version has William resigning “in order to get married.”'* This appears more likely. It is known that William met Maria Ford Augur, known as “Molly,” in New Orleans during a visit to his father, who was by then a lieutenant colonel and quartermaster general of the Louisiana Department. William and Molly, who was herself the daughter of an army officer, apparently had a short and tumultuous courtship. The were married on 29 December 1875." After his marriage William immediately moved to Chicago, possibly because his father was being sent there as chief of the Military Division of the Missouri, a job he held until 1878.’ William undoubtedly already knew Chicago, however, since he would have changed trains there on trips from St. Paul to the south and east of the country as his father moved from place to place. He was also influenced, no doubt, by the reputation that post-Fire Chicago enjoyed as a splendid place for ambitious young engineers. William promptly applied for and, on the basis of his engineering training, got a job with William Le Baron Jenney.’” By choosing to work for Jenney, he threw in his lot with a man who was still in his forties but already provided a serious challenge to the established order in the Chicago building world. Schooled at the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris, and with extensive experience as an engineer in the United States Army, Jenney was much more highly trained than pioneer designers like W. W. Boyington and John van Osdel, who had dominated practice in the city before and just after the Chicago Fire.’® Although there is considerable debate about his personal sophistication and artistic ability, Jenney was undoubtedly a highly competent 8

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estates. The army has never been known for extended flights of fancy, however, and eo ° e the tower also housed a 94,000 gallon tank for maintaining the post’s water pressure. The view close up within the fort was quite different from that seen by suburban neighbors. At close range the lower part of the brick shaft, with its bulbous projecting corners and slit windows, recalls a medieval fortification more than a church tower. At ?

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