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Life Span: 1854-1871
Location: SW corner LaSalle and Randolph Streets
Architect: Jason Gurley
It was built in 1854 and was used for concerts and lectures. The Young Men’s Association occupied rooms in the second story.
The Young Men’s Christian Association (1868)
Now in the twelfth year of its existence, presents a record of prosperity and success scarcely equalled by any similar institution in this country. At the time of its organization it numbered about one hundred and fifty members ; at the present time it has enrolled upon its books over two thousand names.
During the last nine years, daily, noon prayer-meetings have been held at its rooms. Its library and reading-room, stocked with religious books, and papers, and periodicals, from all parts of the world, invite the attention of those whose leisure and inclination will permit a visit there. Within the past two years the field of its operations have increased to such an extent that it became apparent that new quarters must te provided, if the Association should continue its work of usefulness. An appeal was made to the generous Christian public of Chicago to enable the Association to erect a building, the leading object of which should be to accommodate the laborers of the organization.
The appeal was nobly responded to. Land was purchased on Madison Street, between Clark and La Salle, and in September, 1867, the largest structure of the kind in the world was dedicated to the interests of the Chicago Young Men’s Christian Association.
The main building fronts on Broadway Place, and has a depth of one hundred and twenty feet, with a width of eighty-one feet, four stories high, with a mansard roof. The main entrance to th.e hall is through the Madison Street front. This room, which has been named Farwell Hall, in honor of John V. Farwell, the largest contributor to the enterprise, occupies the whole space within the four walls of the building, and is of the dimensions of one hundred and twenty-one feet by eighty-five feet, and forty-five feet from floor to ceiling. The interior is plainly but neatly finished, and the ceilings are very tastefully frescoed with scriptural objects.
The galleries, of which there are two, extending round three sides of the hall, are so arranged that all the seats have a good view of the speaker’s platform. The main floor of the hall is level, with movable chairs. The seats in the gallery are stationary. The entire hall is lighted from the ceiling by double reflectors. This is the largest hall in the West, and capable of comfortably seating three thousand five hundred persons. The ground floor of the building is occupied with stores, while on the . second floor are the library, reading-room, lecture-room, and other office rooms for the use of the Association.
On the floor above the hall are forty-five dormitories, intended for the use of young men who cannot afford more ample accommodations. The building is painted and grained throughout in imitation of oak and black walnut. The cost of the structure, which is built of marble, was over $200,000
Looking NW from the Courthose Dome
Photographer: John Carbutt