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Adams Express Company
Life Span: 1884-1934
Location: 183-189 Dearborn Street
Architect: G. E. Edbrooks
At 183-189 Dearborn Street, is probably the most imposing old-style structure in Chicago. Its outer walls are of the Cyclopean thickness and weight that came in with the early steel buildings. Particularly noticeable is the magnificent granite arch at its portal. The lot is 100 feet wide and 130 feet deep. The building stands 140 feet high, with 10 stories and basement, and contains 3 stores, 223 offices, 3 elevators, and 700 inhabitants. It is occupied by heavy firms and companies, and has always maintained a first-class standing among tenants. It was erected in 1884, at a cost of $450,000. It was razed in 1934 at the same time as the adjoining Commercial National Bank.
Dearborn Street looking north from Adams showing “The Fair” and the Adams Express Building and
showing the Crilly Building at the northeast corner of Dearborn and Monroe. This was taken in 1884.
From the Chicago Tribune, November 2, 1884:
Adams Express Building
Another Fine Structure Added to Chicago Office Buildings
Architect G. E. Edbrooks has just completed on Dearborn, between Monroe and Adams streets, a large nine-story office building for Cooper & Carson. The location is well adapted for railroad, bank, and general offices, this fact being so well appreciated that nearly all the offices, with the exception of the two upper floors, are already rented, and to a class of tenants that will tend to make the building one of the most prominent in the business district. Plans and terms of renting may be had at A. J. Cooper’s 180 Dearborn street. Every improvement that past experience and modern wants have suggested have been used in this building, especial care having devoted to make the offices well lighted and ventilated.
As in nearly all our recent structures the front is of Cainago Anderson pressed brick.
One of the essential features of all our new buildings is that they shall be practically fireproof. James John’s plaster concrete, which is one and a half inches thick, is used to protect the wood joists in this case, being constructed in one continuous mass over the entire ceiling surface before any partitions are set. It becomes a positive barrier to fire communicated from one floor to another. This method of protecting wood joists has received many actual tests and never been found wanting, and it has the further merit of being one-third cheaper than any other method for the protection of wood joists.
The Concrete Building Tile Company, 24 Lakeside Building, Chicago, manufacturers of a new style of sidewalk and floor lights—a great improvement on the old-fashioned Hyatt bullseye light—are putting in the vestibule lights, also a large interior floor light, which deserves a visit from all interested in building. They have just completed an elegant glass roof and some fine interior glass floors in the new Pullman building.
The steam heating and ventilation, which is first-class in every respect, is effected by two 60×16 boilers. These, with connections, the cold-water-supply-pump, tanks for the elevator services, were supplied by Baker, Smith & Co. The heating is by direct radiation, the Detroit improved radiators being used, and the work in its entirety represents a model arrangement for perfect steam-heating, for which Baker, Smith & Co. are noted.
J. J. Wade of 837 West Madison street has completed an excellent job of plumbing and gas-fitting in this building. Fir excellency of finish and great attention to all details his work cannot be excelled.
The elevator is at once the servant and master of high buildings, and in one selection among the various makers great care is exercised by the owners of large structures. In this instance, as in nearly all our important structures, Hale’s hydraulic elevator was selected, and two of these safe and powerful elevators, combining all the latest improvements, are being placed in the building.
The entire painting, decorating, and stained glass, which in a building of this size is a large contract, was entrusted to H. J. Milligan of Randolph street. Here it must be said that this class of work, hardly gives a fair scope of the artist, whose pure decorations and artistic work may be seen in many stores and private houses. The work has been conducted in a masterly way and presents many attractive features.
Independents of the steam-heating, the offices are furnished with fire grates, ornamented with very stylish marble mantels manufactured by R. Burkhard, at his steam marble and grate works on Kingsbury street.
Adams Express Building
183-189 Dearborn Street
Robinson Fire Map, 1886
Volume 1, Plate 1