Sherman House I & II
Life Span: 1837-1860 (I); 1861-1871 (II)
Location: NW corner of Clark and Randolph Streets
Architect: William W. Boyington (II)
History of Chicago, Volume I, Ending in the Year 1837, by A. T. Andreas, 1884.
The First Sherman House.
The City Hotel, subsequently the Sherman House, was built in 1836-37 by Francis C. Sherman. Jacob Kussel was its first proprietor, taking possession in December, 1837. In 1844, Mr. Sherman remodeled the house, added two stories, making it five stories high, and changed its name to the Sherman House. Two years later Mr. Russel retired from its management and was succeeded by James Williamson and A. H. Squier; the next year Mr Williamson retired from the firm, William Rickards purchasing his interest.
This firm, Rickards & Squier, retained the proprietorship of the house until in 1851, when they sold out to Brown & Tuttle, late of the City Hotel, a building which then stood on Lake Street, near Wabash Avenue, and was formerly the Farmer’s Exchange. In February of 1854, Mr. Brown sold his interest to A. H. Patmor, and until 1859 the firm was Tuttle & Patmor. In 1858 the proprietors were Martin Dodge and Hiram Longly.
Chicago Tribune, April 26, 1859
Another Land Mark Going.
We notice a large body of workmen have begun the attack on the Sherman House, and within a short time its topmost brick will seek the dust. Furniture is being mored out, doors and windows being carted off, gas-fittings being ripped out, solid masonry yielding, and soon it will have passed away from its prominent position as a landmark, and notable among the structures of our not very olden time. It is not very old by the “time card” of other cities, but in Chicago we live fast, and though it looks like a destruction of goodly property to level a building five stories high and one hundred feet long on each street front, still “the end,” that noble marble structure, the new Sherman House, will “justify the means.”
The present Sherman House was built in 1837 by Francis C. Sherman, Esq.. It was originally the “City Hotel”—it was a three story building one hundred feet front on Clark by fifty on Randolph. The late lamented Jacob Russel, Esq., who had been the host of the Lake House, took charge of this, the new and then crack hotel of Chicago, and we find by “Norris’ City Directory” published by Ellis & Fergus in 1844, “being the first Directory ever published in Chicago,’ that he was still landlord of the City Hotel in that year.
He was succeeded by Messrs. Squires & Williamson, and then the march of improvement gave it two more stories in height with an increased front of fifty feet on Randolph street and the late Mr. Rickords became its host. To
him succeeded other hosts, we do not attempt their fall list. Messrs. Brown & Tuttle, during their sway gave the Sherman House a wide and well-earned reputation.
It was only on the dawning of the latest era of Chicago hoteldom that the Sherman fell behind in the list of first class houses. It yielded only to more modern structures, with more complete appointments, and now as we have
said, it is retiring come out again finer than ever. The superb new structure to be commenced forthwith will be equalled by nothing west of the lakes. All rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, we are assured by Mr. Sherman that be has leased no part of the future edifice.
Chicago Tribune, December 29, 1859
We learn that F. C. Sherman, Esq., owner of the Sherman House, has sold the beautiful residence south of this own, in Michigan Terrace, Michigan Avenue, to the Illinois Stone Company, taking in payment Joliet marble in sufficient quantity to rebuild the Sherman House, which will be commenced early in the spring. The new edifice to take the place of the present Sherman House, will be one of the most splendid for hotel purposes in the Western country. It will have a front on Clark street of about 200 feet, reaching to Couch Place, and about 100 feet on Randolph street, marble front, five stories high, and to be finished internally in the finest style of the art. Mr. Sherman retains his own splendid residence on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Van Buren street.
John Carbutt #52
Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1860
The New Sherman House.
The process of taking down then old brick buildings and clearing the ground for the commencement of the new structure, is now being pushed forward with vigor by the contractors.
The size of the new building will be 181 feet on Clark st., 161 on Couch place and 121 feet on Randolph st. All of the front is to be built six stories high above the basement, leaving an open court in the centre. The west portion, 65×101 feet on Couch place, will be seven stories above the basement.
The style of architecture is the modern Italian. The fronts on Clark st. and Randolph st. will be fine rubbed Athens marble above the store fronts.
The basements will all be stone, with stone area steps leading to the basement. The sidewalks will be flagged with large stone flags, under which, the space will be devoted to coal vaults & c., for the use pf the stores and basements. The store fronts are to be open show windows, plate glass, divided by cast iron columns of the latest pattern with ornamental arch tops. As every 40 feet of the store fronts there will be large rustic stone piers.
The main entrance to the hotel will be on Clark st., twenty feet wide, and two stories high, which is finished with a large portico, supported by four large marble columns. This entrance, as well as the one on Randolph st., is to be finished with marble stairs and floors leading to the main reception halls, all of which are to be tiled with marble. The Registering counter, which is also to have a marble top, and clerk’s office, are lighted by skylights and located directly opposite the Clark st. entrance where all the arrivals by carriages, together with baggage will enter.
On the right of the main entrance is the ladies; entrance, so that gentlemen with ladies, arriving together, can enter together, and the ladies pass into the reception room and the gentlemen pass at once to the registry desk. At the south end of the main reception hall, which is 31 by 131 feet, is a public entrance from Randolph street, more particularly calculated for pedestrians and private citizens. All these entrances are in full view of the clerk’s office, on either side of which are grand stairways leading to the upper stories, one for the gentlemen and one for the ladies. Immediately adjoining the ladies’ stairway, and near the ladies’ parlors, is an arrangement for a vertical rail-car for the purpose of conveying passengers to the upper stories. In addition to this, there are two other railways, one for carrying up baggage, and the other for carrying fuel. This last passes up through the kitchen, and will be found very useful in that department. The west portion of the building, fronting on Couch place, 63 by 101 feet, is arranged entirely for the hotel. The basement, first and second stories are devoted to the culinary department, including fuel cellars, store room, larder, ice cool room, pastry and bake room, laundry, steam boilers, and drying, ironing and airing rooms, etc., with all the necessary appendages, stairways and halls sufficient to make all parts conveniently accessible. Immediately adjoining the main kitchen, and on the same floor, which is the office floor of the hotel, is the grand dining hall, 40 by 100 feet, adjoining which is the ladies’ ordinary, 25 by 65 feet, connected with the main dining room by folding doors. At the other end of the main dining hall is a private dining or tea room, 35 by 40 feet, connected by sliding doors, so that on extra occasions all three of the dining rooms can be opened together, affording capacity for dining about 700 persons at one time.
Marshall Field resided in the Sherman House in 1863.
These Dining Halls are entered by three separate halls, each wide and spacious, leading from the main reception Hall.
In front of these apartments, on Clark street, and Randolph street, are the Public Rooms of the Hotel, Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Parlors, Reception Rooms, Writing and Reading Rooms, Chess Room, Private Office, Private Bar Room, Baggage Room, Wash Room, and Entrance to Water Closet building, which is a separate round building in the hollow square or open court. The said building is to be five stories high, and made accessible from the different floors, divided proportionately for gentlemen, ladies, servants, and for the stores, all the different apartments being entirely separate on the different floors.
The private parlors on each floor are arranged with connecting chambers with dressing and bath rooms attached, and every desirable convenience.
The second floor of the Hotel is divided mainly into suites of private parlors and bed rooms, all of which are large and thoroughly ventilated. The main halls are 10 feet wide, and the others 8 feet wide, which extent to the outside walls, admitting light and a full draught or air. In addition to these and other modes of ventilation, there are large registers located in the floors and ceilings at different places of the several halls from the the first floor to the top and out to the roof.
From the main hotel floor there are four commodious flights of stairs leading to the upper stories of the house. The third floor is divided mainly like the second. The fourth, fifth and sixth are divided into smaller single rooms, which are well supplied with water and conveniences fir heating every room. Most of the rooms on the several floors are united by doors, so that two or more rooms can be used together if desirable.
The seventh story over the west portion, on Couch Place, will be used for servants’ rooms.
On the sixth floor there will be two large reservoirs for water, to supply the Hotel, which are supplied with water by force pumps.
There will be an arrangement at different places on each floor for attaching a hose in case of a fire in any part of the building.
The arrangements for cooking, heating, and washing are on a liberal scale, and steam will be used extensively for all these purposes. There are 300 rooms in the hotel portion of the building, all well lighted and thoroughly ventilated and warmed. There are 11 stores and 11 basements, fronting on Clark and Randolph streets.
In the erection and furnishing of the building the following details have entered:
The contracts for the heaviest portion of the works have been awarded ton the following persons or firms, viz:
The cut stone work and cast iron work are already nearly completed. The erection of the building will be commenced as soon as the ground area can be cleared, and progress as fast as the safety and permanency of such a work can be executed, all of the same to be done in the most thorough and permanent manner.
John Carbutt #52
Chicago Tribune, May 1, 1860
THE NEW SHERMAN HOUSE.—Most obviously it should have been stated, in connection with the elaborate sketch of the new Sherman House, published in our last issue, the architect of the noble edifice is W. W. Boyington, Esq. By a revoking inadvertence this omission made our account thus far incomplete. We make the correction less forMr. Boyington’s sake than ti fill out the item of news just now deservedly prominent, as referring to an enterprising of a class and nature which is both to do honor and prove of a sterling service to our city. As an architect in Chicago, Mr. Boyington may well borrow from Sir Christopher Wren, “Si monumentum quaeris,: &c., or literally translated, if you wish to know what I have been about, look at Michigan Terrace, the new Sherman House, and blocks on blocks of marble stores and first class dwellings by the score. Mr. Boyington is a modest man and does not say all this, but the buildings themselves speak for him.
The superb new Sherman House will prove an honor alike to Hon. F. C. Sherman, and to those to whom he was entrusted its erection.
Chicago Tribune, January 4, 1861
The new Sherman House built for F. C. Sherman, commenced on May 1st. Will be opened in May of the present year. Cost $200,000: 181 feet on South Clark by 160 on Randolph street, both fronts of Athens marble. Throughout a first class structure. W. W. Boyington architect.
Excerpted from The Chicago Tribune, July 8, 1861, which was the day after the Grand Opening of the Grand Opening. The lengthy article included a nearly identical description of the new hotel. Additional details are as follows:
The eight elegant stores elegant stores on Clark street are occupied by Thayer, Druggist; New York and Erie R.R. ticket office; Brewster, Hatter; Daniels, Cigar and Tobacco; Michigan Southern R.R. ticket office; Sloats’ Sewing Machines; Alexander & Co., Bankers; Singer’s Sewing Machine depot. The four stores on Randolph have as present occupants, the Cincinnati Air Line R.R Co.; and Giovani Frazza, Hair Dresser. In the basement, among other business places, lovers of lager and fine Rhine wines will find Best & Co. wuth their saloons and wine vaults.
Now we come to the live occupants and managers of the establishment, and we have done. Perhaps ere this our readers have already deserted us. We think, however, they will follow us to the ending if learning, as we shall assure them, that the Sherman is in adequate hands.
Messrs. Roberts & Sherman, the latter a son of the proprietor, are the lessbes. P. B. Roberts is a successful railroad man, recently from Peoria. They have connected with its management Samuel Hawk, Esq., late of the Richmond, who can keep a hotel, and W. S. Hughes, of liberal and successful experience in the same direction, in hotels of Cape May and Philadelphia. These gentlemen are assisted by Messrs. Kellogg of Peoria,and Rice of Albany.
So passes into its place in history, and into its rank among the institutions of this city, the new Sherman House. Long may it wave.
History of Chicago; Its Commercial and Manufacturing Interests and Industry, Isaac D.Guyer, 1862
Below we present a fine view of the latest and one of the grandest Palatial Hotels in, the metropolis of the West. It is a bijou of architecture and taste, and occupies one of the best sites of any hotel in Chicago. It stands on the north side of the Court House Square; its southern aspect overlooking the park with its fountains and foliage. Chicago has long been celebrated for the extent and science of her hotel keeping. But this vast and superb structure, that lifts its marble front on the corner of Clark and Randolph Streets, in the Italian order of architecture, seven stories in height counting its basement with a front on Clark and Randolph Streets of three hundred and thirty feet, and a height of ninety-six feet from the lower floor, excels all others hither to erected in the great West. It was built by the man whose name it bears, who is one of our oldest and most esteemed citizens. Standing on the corner of two great thoroughfares, it is accessible from every quarter; and when at last it was adjudged entirely complete, with the exception of a Master, whose experience, urbanity, hospitality and taste would ensure for its guests a warm and genial welcome, Mr. P. B. Roberts consented to conduct the new Hotel. A vast sum was expended upon the house itself. It was furnished with all the conveniences and luxuries of the most princely palace. The furniture is rosewood, the curtains are silk and damask, the carpets are velvet. No improvement has ever been introduced into an American hotel, which is not found here. Those who explore it, and examine all its machinery, will find that it embraces a combination of everything that the spirit of invention, taste, hospitality or elegance could suggest. Its perfect arrangements in the halls, parlors, and suits of rooms, its attendants, its exuberant larder, and its exquisite cuisine are the admiration of every guest. As to the manner in which the hotel is kept, there is but one opinion, and although so much has been written about it, and a capricious and exacting public had been led to expect everything, yet its opening so far exceeded the expectations, that it carried the public captive.
No private establishment, however expensive, can hope to equal in these particulars the accommodations, luxury and style of this Hotel; while the table, with its unrestricted field for good breeding, and good manners of every style, is a great high-school of refinement, in which the greatest boor from the country, and the most hopeless case of mauvaise honte, gets his asperities rounded off, his awkwardness smoothed away, and the wrinkles ironed out of his character and carriage. A man or woman will learn more of the world, and of that je ne sais quoi which distinguishes the cosmopolite from the countryman, by a brief residence at such a hotel, than by making the grand tour of Europe. It is in effect a very considerable approximation towards all the advantages, improvements and economies possible in the household of a rich and refined gentleman. One can live at the Sherman House in a style of the most recherche luxury, excelling anything found in any private house on any terms, and at a rate not greater than it requires to subsist in the meagerest and most common-place manner in a solitary and out-of-the-way private dwelling.
There was a degree of elegance and refinement, of harmony and taste, and yet withal of chasteness and unostentation, that the guests seemed to feel, and certainly they acted, less as though they were in a public hotel than a private palace. While this will be a grand Mecca of hospitality, it is supposed that its Master will make it the great rallying place in the North-West for the travelers from every part of our country, and from the old world, to many thousands of whom the proprietor has many years been known, for his kind, genial and generous hospitalities. Amongtheattaches, and intimately associated with the management of this house, is Mr. S. Hawk, formerly “mine host of the Richmond House,” the man whom all the West has paid its tribute, as its most distinguished hotel-keeper, and from whom he has won golden opinions. This Hotel has all the charms of home, for it has all its elements of comfort, quiet, independence and luxury.
Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1862
W. W. Boyington, Office 82 Dearborn Street.
The Sherman House, corner of Clark and Randolph streets; six stories and basement, marble front and brick walls, for Hon. F. C. Sherman. Cost $200,000; expended in 1861, $100,000.
Chicago Illustrated, June, 1866
THE SHERMAN HOUSE is the latest and most extensive of the the many grand hotels in Chicago, and in architectural beauty and convenience has no superior in the United States.
It is situated on the north-west corner of Clark and Randolph streets. Its main front is on Clark street. The building on Clark and Randolph streets is six stories and the basement. The exterior dimensions are” on Clark street 181 feet from Randolph street to Couch place; on Randolph street westwardly 161 (including the addition.)
The building is the property of the Hon. Francis C. Sherman, of Chicago, and is built upon the site of the old Sherman House. This work was commenced May 1, 1860, and the hotel was opened for visitors, July 1, 1861. The front of the building is of Athens marble, and the main entrance on Clark street is through a portico two stories high. The entrance is up a broad and easy flight of some stairs to the grand hall. Facing the entrance is the Office, which is in an alcove, and commanding a view of all the stairs leading to the upper stories.
A spacious Hall runs north and south the whole length of the building, at an average width of 30 feet. On this floor are the Parlors and Reception Rooms, which are not surpassed in size or general convenience by any similar hotel apartments in the country. The various Dining Rooms are also on this floor. The upper stories are devoted to rooms for guests, and are so arranged that they can be used singly or in suite.
The building was open for guests on the evening of July 1, 1861.
Sherman House (left) and Wood’s Museum
Photographer: John Carbutt
The Sherman House
Every Saturday, 1871
John Carbutt #52
Sherman House Ruins
Sherman House II
NW corner of Clark and Randolph Streets
Sherman House II
NW corner of Clark and Randolph Streets
Sanborn Fire Insurance Mapo