Art Institute, Chicago Club
Life Span: 1887-1928
Location: 404 S. Michigan Ave (Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Streets)
Architect: Burnham & Root-
The Inter Ocean, February 22, 1882
ACADEMY VS. LIBRARY.
The passage of that most worthy measure, the Public Library bill, by Congress, is being hampered and impeded by a gentleman named John F. Stafford, who represents an at one time very creditable institution called the Academy of Design, and which has been forgotten by well nigh all men except its creditors. There is no doubt about this Stafford’s possession of the charter of the defunct Academy of Design, and in that case he also assumes the ownership of some $10,000 or $12,000 of debt under which that once well-meaning institution went down. All this is nothing strange nor out of place; but when an attempt is made to trade the good name and splendid reputation of the present Academy of Fine Arts, it is time that the truth should be known. The Academy of Design is dead and well nigh buried; the Academy of Fine Arts is one of the best art schools in America, well managed, prosperous, and patronized by the best classes of society of Chicago and the West and South. The Academy of Design, a name a charter, and a debt of $12,000, with no local habitation and no existence except upon paper and in the pocket of Mr. John F. Stafford, now assumes that Dearborn Park shall not be given to the people for a site for a public library except the land thus acquired be shared with Mr. John F. Stafford, who owns the charter of a dead and gone institution. The only danger in the matter is that Congressmen may be induced or allowed to think that the Academy of Design or its memory and the present Academy of Fine Arts are the same.
To put the matter properly before the public, a reporter for The Inter Ocean yesterday interviewed various officials of the Academy of Fine Arts, and the result will be found below. The first gentleman seen was C. L. Hutchinson.
C. L. HUTCHINSON.
Mr. C. L. Hutchinson, Vice President of the Academy of Fine Arts, was found at his office, No. 15 Chamber of Commerce. When asked to define the difference between the Academy of Design and the Academy of Fine Arts, he said:
- ‘The Academy of Design is dead. The Academy of Fine Arts succeeded them.’
‘Did you use their charter?’
‘Certainly not; we organized under the laws of the State. We had nothing to do with them, whatever. It is a sad and yet a ridiculous thing that the general public should be continuing mixing the two names up. The Academy of Fine Arts is on a good, solid, substantial basis, while the Academy of Design is entirely bankrupt.’
‘How long has that Academy of Fine Arts been in existence?’
‘Three years. The school is on a paying basis, and one of the best in America.’
‘Have you heard anything of the effort to get part of Dearborn Park for the Academy of Design?’
‘I have heard that Mr. John F. Stafford is in Washington urging amendments to the library bill, which asks for 125 feet ronting on Randolph street.’
‘In this your academy has no interest?’
‘No, unless it be the wish of the library to get the entire block. We are constantly annoyed at being confounded with that defunct institution, and suffer considerably from its reputation.’
‘Do you know Stafford?’
‘No, but I presume he is a very nice fellow.’
The reporter looked keenly at Mr. Hutchinson, but he never smiled.
- ‘What is his object?’
‘Why, I suppose to resurrect the p;d concern and put it on its feet by a land grant, but I a afraid he will never be able to do it.’
‘The Academy of Design is very successful, is it not?’
Very, as a school, and in all other ways. The present premises on State street (Pike Block), opposite the Palmer House, are too small. We are hoping to buy the corner of Van Buren street and Michigan avenue, erect there a suitable building and transfer the school, and open a permanent art gallery. That is the spot formerly occupied by the old Academy of Design. The present building is 54 feet front and 100 feet deep. We want to erect a new building with the same front but 175 feet deep. If we can’t do that we will put up a temporary building in the rear, to which the school will be transferred as soon as completed.’
‘This will cost something?’
‘Yes, $50,000; but we have $40,000 already and subscribed for the purpose. It is a most feasible scheme. I don’t believe in castles iun the air, but this is a solid brick and stone reality.’
‘Who is President of your academy?’
L. Z. Leiter, and C. L. Hutchinson is Vice President.’
‘Then I understand you don’t opose the Library’s getting control of Dearborn Park?’
‘Certainly not. We want the Library to have it. It is a very excellent and praiseworthy object.’
The Inter Ocean, December 18, 1882
The Art Institute is the name of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. The school will open in the new building early in Janary.
Chicago Tribune, December 24, 1882
The fine structure erected for the Art Institute on Van Buren street, near Michigan avenue, is nearing completion, and will be ready for occupancy before many weeks. It is situated in rear of the old building, and is constructed of pressed brick. The lot and buildings represent an investment of $65,000. The new structure fronts fifty-four feet on Van Buren street and is seventy-two feet in depth. It is in the Elizabethan style.The monumental terra-cotta work is massed at the end of the building, in which is situated the entrance. Over the arch of the entrance are medallions of Michael Angelo and Raphael. The roof is high pitched and relieved by gables and peaks. The division of the interior is into a grand hall 20×45 feet, the stairways springing from the centre and turning in two ramps on each side. All of the first floor is given to a class-room 16×26 feet, with a private class-room 16×26 feet. The second floor has the picture galleries and one class-room, 33×24, which may also be used as a gallery. The rooms on the third floor are all ensuite, giving admirable facilities for extensive exhibition in the main gallery., which is 26×51 feet, with a 20-foot ceiling. It is designed to have a permanent exhibition of pictures. It has a skylight 24×23 feet. The hall is intended for the exposition of etchings and prints, and the remaining gallery of the three, 15×25 feet, will be used for general purposes. The third story is devoted to the “life” class, having a class-room 24×50 feet, and a nude-model room 20×24 feet. This room is also lighted by a skylight, and by side lights in the pitched roof. Light for the class-rooms is generally obtained from the side.
Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1883
The galleries of the Art Institute, at the corner of Michigan avenue and Van Buren street, have been thrown open free for the present week to the public. Nearly three-hundred people visited them Monday, and yesterday the number of visitors was still larger. Tomorrow night the galleries will be kept open for the benefit of all, but especially those who cannot attend during the day. The loan collection, composed of many of the best works of art owned in Chicago, will remain in the galleries during the week. Annual membership tickets, costing $10, and giving the holders access to the galleries at all times, are in great demand, a large number having been sold during the past weeks. The monry derived from that source will be applied on the purchase of pictures and improving the facilities of the institute.
Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1885
THE ART INSTITUTE.
The old Art Institute building will be pulled down within the next week, and work will be vigorously prosecuted upon the new building, if the weather permits. The art school is uninterrupted in the Van Buren section in the Van Buren street section of the building, the winter term beginning Monday, Jan. 4.
Chicago Tribune, January 3, 1886
Art Institute, Michigan avenue and Van Buren street—Strictly Romanesque in treatment, 80×100 feet; two street fronts, entirely of Glencoe stone, with Connecticut brown-stone trimmings; four stories high; will contain Ladies’ Club and the “Fortnightly;” the rest of the building to be devoted to the purpose of the Art Institute.
Chicago Tribune, November 20, 1887
The weather kept a good many people away from the Art Institute last night who would otherwise have gone. It is an unfortunate fact that the weather is no respecter of person or events. It is just as likely to interfere with a $2,000 ball as it is with a $5 wake. It interfered last night with what promised to be one of the greatest social events of the season, and yet it did not interfere with it as much as would be naturally expected. Many there who would have attended the opening of the Art Institute if the weather had been propitious who were not on hand, but there were still more who were bound to come, snow or no snow, storm or no storm.
From 7 until 11 o’clock there was a continuous stream of carriages coming and going, and a continuous stream of people passing through the various rooms and departments of the building. It was a reception in every sense of the word. People came, looked through the building, and left, and others arrived to fill the places they had left vacant.
It was the formal opening of the building and a most successful one it was, too. Every room was thrown open for inspection, and every one who came viewed them all. In the basement one large room was set apart as a cloak-room, and so many attendants were there that at no time was there the least confusion. With all there were and with all there were going the wraps were handled expeditiously, and that us matter if no small importance in a public reception.
Then there were the galleries to look through—seventeen of them in all—and they were filled with the choicest of collections of paintings and statuary. On the ground floor there were five rooms occupied by a loan collection of paintings, the Eldridge G. Hall collection of sculpture, Egyptian, Assyrian, and early Greek, and autotypes of the works of the masters. On the next floor there were six rooms, three of them being filled with the loan collection of paintings two with the Hall collection of sculpture (Greek, Roman, Renaissance, and modern), and one of portraits and paintings. The second floor also boasted of six rooms, two being devoted to the exhibition to the exhibition of the Society of Decorative Art, two to the loan collection of paintings, one to the Century drawings and Low’s “Lamia,” and the other to Harper and Gibson drawings.
Through all these various rooms the guests, of course, had to wander, catalog in hand, and admire, criticize, and condemn, the various works of art according to the humor and conception of each. One lady was heard to remark, as she departed: “Why you might spend half a day in here and still not see and appreciate all there is to see and appreciate,” and she was right as far as she went. But she did not go far enough. She might have said two or three days and still have been in no danger of being accused of exaggeration. The display was so large and complete that its magnitude and excellence could not possibly be grasped in a single visit.
And in addition to the art rooms all the society rooms were also thrown open for inspection—indeed, the whole building was on view—and if any one went away without thoroughly inspecting it, it was his own fault; there was no lack of opportunity. On the third floor were the rooms of the Chicago Library Society, thrown wide open, and affording many a cozy nook for those who desired to sit down and converse. That it was appreciated was shown by the fact that they were more or less filled during the entire evening. Fires were burning brightly in the various large, open fireplaces, and many a party gathered around them for a good social time. All the society rooms, in fact, presented a very homelike appearance. The crowd and crush was confined to the rooms below.
On the fourth floor were the rooms of the Chicago Women’s Club and of the Fortnightly Club, and they presented the same appearance as the rooms of the literary society on the floor below. Little groups were gathered around the fireplaces, having what might be called a real sociable time.
The regular order of going through the building was to take the elevator to the top floor, and then descend, inspecting the various rooms on the way, but some reversed the order and walked up. Perhaps, after all, that was the best to do, as the art galleries were considered or the first importance, and so should have been visited first. Moreover, the society rooms were so comfortable that one starting with them stood a poor show of getting down-stairs until it was time to depart.
The Society of Decorative Art, apparently did a rushing business, judging from the number of “sold” placards that were put on the various articles before the evening was over. The rooms were crowded during the whole time, and unfortunate was the man who entered them with his wife, daughter, or sister. There was so much to appeal to a woman’s fancy that he was bound to come out with his finances depleted.
The art exhibition of last night will be continued throughout the week.
Art Institute stairway
Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1886
In the August Century is an exhaustive article by Ripley Hitchcock on “The Western Movement,’ in which the art works of Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit is separately considered. The following unusually fair statement of Chicago’s present attitude is extracted:
- In its relations to art the Western metropolis resembles to an extent the metropolis of the East. Chicago contains more professional artists than any other Western city, and this implies a picture market of some consequence. Various art associations center in the city, and there are frequent exhibitions of considerable importance. Of imposing business blocks and costly residences there is no lack, but—and here again the resemblance to New York comes in—there is a curious apathy regarding the advancement of the cause of art education. The unselfish public spirit which, as in Cincinnati, manifests itself in the building of art museums and the generous endowment of art schools, is not yet awakened in Chicago, although all this may be close at hand. The youth of the city, its marvelous development, its still more marvelous uprising since its destruction fifteen years ago, are explanation enough, perhaps, for the preoccupation of its citizens with individual material interests. “What has been done for art?” one asks. “What gifts have you made? What facilities for education in art have you placed within the reach of your people?” And the answer is, “Wait. We are young. This ground was cleared of Indians hardly fifty years ago. Look at our business streets and avenues of private residences. Remember our population of three-quarters of a million and our vast business interests. Remember that the men whom you meet have been working night and day for fifteen years to build this great city up from ashes. Their energies have been absorbed in material things. The next generation will have money and time for something else. The change is coming; indeed, it is already felt. In Chicago we act quickly. The art in the air will materialize into gifts and endowments, and all at once Chicago will be the art center, as she is now the business center, of the West.”
All this is characteristic. The influence of local pride will count for something. Chicago will not long allow herself to lag behind St. Louis and Cincinnati. At present the representative art institution of the city is without any endowment, and its usefulness is limited by the want of funds. It has received no large gifts either of money or collections. Yet the Art Institute of Chicago is attended in the course of the year by some four hundred pupils, and is soon to take possession of a new building, which with the land represents a value of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This is the result of a “business management. “The money has been obtained from gifts, chiefly of a thousand dollars each, from membership fees, and from loans upon bonds secured by mortgages on the property. Interest upon these bonds and the running expenses are to be met for a time by renting parts of the building to various societies. Membership fees and dues are to cover the expenses of exhibitions. The school is dependent upon its tuition fees. In short, both museum and school are in dependent and self-supporting. Thanks to the prudence of business men, the Art Institute has maintained itself successfully during the seven years since its incorporation. Through the energetic efforts of the president, Mr. Charles L. Hutchinson, the credit of the Institute is firmly established, and its future seems certain even without the outside help which is needed to increase its usefulness
At least the new building is an important step forward. The Chicago Academy of Design, founded nearly twenty years ago, once controlled a building nominally its own, but this was destroyed in the great fire. The Academy, in which Mr. Leonard W. Volk was a leader, was primarily an association of artists. It maintained a school, and owned some small collections. But when the business men who were members left the organization in 1879 to found the Academy of Fine Arts, now called the Art Institute, the life of the old Academy seems to have departed, although it is still a chartered and officered association. It was in 1882 that the Institute was established on its present site, where the museum occupied an old building, and one was after ward erected for the school. The latter remains. The substantial brown-stone building now going up stands on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Van Buren street, fronting a narrow park along the lake front.
THE CHICAGO ART INSTITUTE.
Among other illustrations of prominent museums and schools of art accompanying the article in the August Century, herewith reprinted, is the one of the Chicago Art Institute reproduced above. It is one of the most successful institutions of the kind in the country.
The plans for the interior include a lecture room, several galleries, and other exhibition rooms, with studios and rooms for modeling and carving, and others to be temporarily occupied by the Decorative Art Society and various clubs. The entire building is designed for the use of the Art Institute. Only a part of the exhibition space will be occupied by the hundred or so casts, and the few oil-paintings and autotypes belonging to the Institute, the nucleus of a collection. American art has found early representation in “Les Amateurs,” by Mr. Alexander Harrison, and “The Beheading of John the Baptist,” by Mr. Charles Sprague Pearce. But the galleries will be filled for the most part by loan exhibitions. Last year the Institute held fourteen, including paintings, sculpture, engravings, autotypes, pottery, illustrative designs, etchings, and black-and-white drawings. Both the Western Art Association and the Bohemian Art Club of Chicago held exhibitions in the galleries of the Institute. All this is helpful to the pupils of the school, as well as interesting to the public. For further stimulus the pupils have lectures by the director of the Institute, Mr. W. M. R. French, and others, and two or three times the pupils have made sketching expeditions of some duration —one to the Natural Bridge in Virginia.
These are aids outside of the regular curriculum of the school, which is mainly academic like the leading art schools of the East, with which it claims equality. There are the usual grades and classes, with a somewhat unusual range of mediums, which includes pastel drawing, monotypes, and etching. Nothing seems to be omitted which pertains to academic art education, and there is also a class in decorative designing. The teachers for the most part have been trained at Munich, but practices which originated in French ateliers, like the use of Julian’s flats, and drawing from blocks to get ideas of construction, are common here as in most modern schools. As to the pupils, it would be unfair to judge so young a school by the achievements of its graduates. Their history is like that of the graduates of other American schools. Most of them study art for amusement, or as an accomplishment. Some become teachers. Not more than one or two per cent., I am told, become professional artists. As to results obtained in the application of art to industry, there is still less to be said. The night classes, as in Cincinnati and St. Louis, are attended by many lithographers, draughtsmen, and engravers, and the influence counts for something. The head of a large firm of designers and decorators is teacher of a night class. His testimony is that pupils of the school as yet have taken little part in the decorative art work of the city. He had been able to find but one competent American designer, and that one, significantly enough, was a graduate of the St. Louis school. The Chicago Pottery Club, which includes several graduates of the school among its members, has held several exhibitions of merit. But there has been no application of art to pottery or metal-work on a large scale
All that is claimed for the Art Institute, even with its costly new building, is that it represents a beginning. The management of the Art Institute is vested in some of the active business men who have won for their city its great material prosperity. This is surely a fortunate omen. Moreover, whatever facilities these men may procure will be discreetly utilized. The director of the school wisely recognizes the value of individuality, and this he aims to encourage while maintaining regularity and discipline. He looks forward to keeping his pupils for four years, teaching them to use their hands and eyes, and at the same time equipping them with a truly liberal education obtained through artistic channels. More than this, he intends to make the study of applied art a department coordinate with the academic.
Such are the present conditions of art in Chicago, but these conditions will soon change. The founding of the Manual Training School, the great bequest for the Newberry Library, and the establishment of the Armour Memorial are signs of the direction in which men’s minds are turning, and these examples are sure to inspire others.
In a foot-note are added these remarks:
- There have been no such gifts to the cause of art education in the East as in the West during this time. There has been no such building up of art museums and art schools. Even the museums in existence in Boston and New York are suffering severely for lack of support, and not an art school in New York is equipped to the satisfaction of its friends. On the other hand, the largest private and public collections are in the East, and the most important exhibitions and sales are held here, or, to localize the term further, in New York, which is the center for artists and art societies, and offers the best picture market. Any detailed exposition of the East’s advantages seems to me as unnecessary as general eulogy of the arts of painting and sculpture. But the expenditure of fortunes for paintings which go to private galleries is achieve not so healthful a sign of interest in art as the unselfish activity in behalf of art education which is now to be noted in the West, but not in the East. At present the East seems content with its earlier achievements, but this apathy can hardly be expected to last.
The Art Institute (left)
Robinsons Fire Map 1886
Volume 1, Plate 7
The Inter Ocean, April 29, 1893
The Chicago Club yesterday moved into new and commodious quarters in the remodeled building formerly occupied by the Art Institute, at Michigan and Van Buren street. The associations formed in the old club-house on Monroe street, opposite the Palmer House, have been of the tenderest, and it is not without a great deal of regret that the members leave the building that has been their home for twenty years.
The new building is a five-story structure, built of brown stone, and presents a substantial exterior appearance. It has a frontage on Michigan boulevard and overlooks the Lake Front Park, in which stands the new statue of Columbus. Its estimated cost is $500,000, and the members claim that no clubhouse in the city can surpass it in the way of accommodations and elegance of the furnishings. The arched entrance opens into a hallway, and a blaze of electric lights greets the club man and his guest as soon as the heavy oaken doors are swung open. The vestibule is handsomely furnished in oak. To the right, in the northeast corner of the building, are the reception-room and parlor. These rooms will be fitted up in a most elegant manner. Already fine leather upholstered furniture, moquette carpets and rugs, and a fireplace of large dimensions have been provided, but the draperies and wall decorations will be put in later. The cafe is connected with the parlor, and the two will make a suite of rooms that will be the delight of the club.
The billiard-room, card-room, and Library are located on the second floor, and are elegantly furnished in oak, and with here and there those little divertissements which go to make the life of a club man one to be enjoyed. On the fourth floor are several private dining-rooms, likewise furnished in oak. They are large enough to accommodate a party of twelve, and are to be used on special occasions. The fifth floor has a number of living-rooms, which are to be reserved for the bachelor members.
The Chicago Club is the oldest club in the city, and its members number nearly 1,000. Its application rolls for membership, both resident and non-resident, are constantly full. One account of the unsettled state of the building, and the work of the contractors not having been completed, the club will give no formal opening in dedication of its new house. To-day, however, the members will be permitted to inspect the quarters and pronounce judgement upon the work of the men who have superintended the construction and furnishing of the building. It si expected that everything will be in running order within next week.
Chicago Club, 1906
Chicago Tribune, June 18, 1928
FLOORS CRASH AS CHICAGO CLUB BUILDING IS BEING REMODELED.
This picture, taken just after a section of the fourth floor fell, carrying parts of the floors below with it into the basement, shows the dust that arose from the debris.
Chicago Tribune, September 8, 1928
BY AL CHASE.
Instead of continuing the remodeling of the exclusive old Chicago club, at the southwest corner of Michigan and Van Buren, which recently partly collapsed, it has been decided to build an entirely new ten-story fireproof structure, with shops along the boulevard frontage and with the main entrance changed from Boul Mich to Van Buren street. The present building, designed by the late John Root of Burnham & Root, is to be torn down and replaced with the ten story annex, recently completed.
Granger & Bollenbacher, architects of the annnex, have drawn plans for the new corner main building. These are now being considered by the building committee, of which Stanley Field is chairman.
Only 800 Members.
The Chicago club has one of the smallest memberships in the city—only 800. On the other hand it is one of the oldest and its roster contains probably more men of wealth and influence than any other organization in Chicago. It is also one of the most conservative.
When it was announced in March, 1927, that an annex was to be built and the old building to be remodeled, Alfred Granger of Granger & Bollenbacher commented:
- This is the culmination of twenty years of talk and two years of actual work.
Started on Lake Street.
The Chicago club originally had quarters in Lake street. Following the big fire it erected a club building on the north side of Monroe street, between State and Wabash, which was later occupied by De Jonghe’s restaurant.
The Art Institute of Chicago at that time had its building and galleries at the southwest corner of Michigan and Van Buren. When it moved into its present location in Grant Park, the Chicago club bought the land and building and has used it for its quarters until recently when the club activities were transferred to the new annex while a start was made on remodeling the corner building.