Honorè Blocks II
Life Span: `1872-1879 (Honore Building)/1893 (Honore Block)
Location: Honoré Building: NW corner of S Dearborn and W Adams streets
Honoré Block: NW corner of S Dearborn and W Monroe streets
Architect: C. M. Palmer
The second Honorè Building was primarily occupied by the Marquette Hotel which rented 300 rooms. The building has 10 offices, 12 stores and two elevators. The outer walls were possibly the most ornate in Chicago at that time, with the Palmer House being its closest competitor.
The model of this building was completed in 1871, burned in October 1871, rebuilt in 1872 with much salvage, and gutted by fire on January 4, 1879. Later known as the Howland Block, with a frontage of 50 feet on Monroe Street and 190 feet on Dearborn Street. This building was erected upon the same site where it had stood before the Fire. It was five stories high, with basement, and was built of Cleveland stone.
One of the first tenants secured, Grommes & Ulrich Wine Merchants immediately leased the building’s basement space. There was a citywide basement shortage due to different types of foundations. Grommes & Ulrich installed a large refrigerator plant in the lowest level to house their “immense stock of costly wines.”
Chicago Evening Post, December 9, 1871
Every citizen of Chicago will be glad to hear that H. H. Honoré has concluded to restore his elegant marble-front block on the west side of Dearborn street in all its elaborate beauty. A considerable portion of the elaborately-cut front of the Honoré house, on the corner of Dearborn and Adams streets, was saved, and the whole front will be restored.
Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1872
Wheelock & Thomas.
From Wheelock & Thomas, architects, No. 617 Wabash avenue, we have particulars in regard to the erection of the following buildings: Work has already been commenced on the old Honore Block. The foundation is finished, and is ready for the laying of the first floor joists. The new design is a great improvement on the old. The front will be of Cleveland sandstone, richly carved and decorated. The building will be, when completed, one of the handsomest in the city. It will be devoted to the same general uses as before the fire. Mercury wll make his reappearance in the old place, but made of terra cotta instead of zinc. t is expected to have the building ready for use in nine months from the present date.
The new Honoré Building will be re-erected on the former design. Work will proceed on both buildings at the same time. The latter will be completed a few weeks after the former.
The Land Owner, August, 1873
THE HONORÉ BLOCK & THE HONORÉ HOTEL.
We have especial pleasure in presenting to the public the beautiful illustrations contained in this number, of the Honore Block, and the Honoré Hotel.
Of the Honoré Block we express the general opinion that it is one of the chief architectural ornaments of Chicago. Upon the same spot where it stood before the fire, it now rears its lofty front in even greater magnificence. Its imposing grandeur, its correct proportions, the beauty of its design, the excellence of its materials, and the complete and artistic elaboration of every detail arouse a sentiment of unqualified administration.
It is located upon the south-west corner of Monroe and Dearborn sts., having a front on Dearborn of 190 feet, and on Monroe st. of 50 feet. It has five stories and basement. The fronts are built of Cleveland stone. The architects are Messrs. Wheelock & Thomas, of this city. This building is known, strictly, as “The Real Estate Exchange,” and is occupied almost exclusively by that interest. The whole structure is of the most solid and enduring character, and is throughout characterized by the most thorough workmanship, with an unstinted use of the best materials.
Rebuilt Chicago—Mr. H.H. Honoré’s New Hotel, Corner Dearborn and Adams Streets.
Rebuilt Chicago—The Honoré Block (Real Estate Exchange), Corner Dearborn and Monroe Streets.
Honoré Block and Honoré Building
1886 Robinson Fire Map depicting the locations of the Honoré Block and Honoré Building.
Chicago Tribune, August 11, 1874
THE NEW POST-OFFICE.
That the recent South Side fire was in some respects a blessing to the city has been clearly shown since its occurrence. One of the great advantages arising from it will be the removal of the Post-Office from the tumble-down ecclesiastical edifice on Wabash avenue, which it occupied after the great fire of 1871, to its future site in the Honoré Hotel building, where it will remain until the completion of the new Government building. This building, commonly known heretofore as Honoré’s white elephant, has been standing on Dearborn street, corner of Adams, a very handsome, but and altogether unproductive, mass of stone and mortar, and its utilization by Uncle Sam will be for some years yet a source of perennial joy and profit to the man with the monotonous initials and the acutely-accentuated letter at the end of his name. Yesterday afternoon a Tribune reporter called at the building in question, in order to find out what progress had been made in the fiting-up of the hotel as the new Post-Office. He found the lower floors of the northern three-quarters in the hands of
A small army of carpenters, joiners, plasterers, bricklayers, and calciminers, all working away in a very energetic manner. After viewing their operations for a few minutes the reporter hunted up Mr. C. S. Squires, the Assistant Postmaster, whom he found superintending matters in the upper part of the building. This gentleman was evidently well pleased at the idea of their new premises being examined and written up in The Tribune, and at once set to work explaining to the reporter the way in which the building bad been altered and portioned off. The alterations did not amount to much, the most extensive being the building of brick division-wall between that portion of the hotel to be occupied by the Post-Office and that still left vacant, and the making of a few necessary lath-and-plaster partitions here and there.
It was found that the rooms to be occupied by the Post-Office were situated on the basement and first and second floors on the north side of the main building, and the basement and first, second, and third floors on the north side of the addition across the open court. The first room entered was that to be occupied by the Assistant Postmaster, Mr. C. S. Squires, and his Secretary, W. E. Patton, which is the .first room north of the main stair-landing on the second floor the main building. This roo measures= about 38×18 feet. Next to this room and further north is the room intended for the Postmaster, Gen. McArthur, which measures about 38×12 feet. The room north of this will be occupied by Cashier John McArthur, Jr., and Accountant James E. Brady, and is of the same dimensions as that of the Assistant Postmaster. The room to the north of this is a large one, and is intended for occupation by James E. White, Superintendent of the railway mail service. This room measures 38×31 feet; a corner of it is portioned off for the accommodation of postal clerks we a checking room.
Across the hall to the west the most northerly room will be occupied by Local Agent. J. M. Hubbard and assistants. A small room to the south of this is intended to be need as a stationery and supply store for the accountant. Another small room is intended for occupation by Special Agents U. R. Hawley and J. S. Elwell.
The large dining-room on the second floor of the addition to the hotel west of the open court is to be occupied by J. M. Hubbard, Superintendent of the city distribution and carriers’ department. The public entrance to this will be through the main entrance, on Dearborn street, while the entrance for carriers and clerks will be from the alley.
The most northerly store on the first flat of the building is being fitted up for use of P. M. Clowery, Superintendent, and the staff of the general and box-delivery department, and the wholesale and retail stamp department under Fred Groth, Superintendent, the former occupying the north and the latter the south side of the room, which is a large one, measuring 65×35 feet.
The next store south, which is of equal size, is being prepared for occupancy by Capt. W. Gregg, Superintendent, and the staff of the money-order department. The third store south, which is next to the the main entrance, is to be occupied by W. D. Rawlins, Superintendent, and the staff of the letter-registering department.
The Mailing Department, under tbe superintendence of Capt. M. J. Mc.Grath, will be in a room on the first floor, at the end of the main entrance. Here will be received all letter mails, and the receptacle will consist of four holes, which will be intended respectively for foreign parts, the city, and Eastern and Western States, and marked accordingly.
The mailing of all prepaid transient printed matter, articles and samples of merchandise, etc., will be done through a shoot into the basement on the right of the main cutrance to the building. Newspapers for city distribution will be received by the watchman at the door of the entrance on the alley to the north of the building, and messengers calling for newspaper exchanges will be supplied at the same door.
The basement of the main building will be used as the room for newspaper distribution, the other basement, underneath the mailing-room, will be used for the stalling and dispatching of paper mails. In the open court there will be a large elevator, capable of hoisting 4,000 pounds, which will be employed in hoisting the papers up to the mail wagons in the alley. For the reception of railroad paper mails two shoots have been placed in the main building in the north alley, while city matter of a like character will be received in an iron shoot at the corner of the north alley and the open court.
The room just back of the mail deposit room is to be occupied by the Superintendent of Mails, the entrance to it being on the south side from the main entrance to the building. The large dining-room to the west of this is to be occupied for letter distribution, and also for the receiving and distributing of the letter mail, two doors in this room opening up on the northern alley, that to the east being used for receiving; and that to the west for dispatching mails. This is a large room, measuring 86×33 feet.
The only room left undescribed is that on the third floor of the building, across
the alley. This room will be divided into and fitted up as sleeping-apartments for the railway postal-clerks and route-agents.
There is apparently no attempt at ornamentation in the building, the work that is put in being substantial and strong, rather than ornate, even in the rooms which are intended for the public use. The necessity to hurry up work so as to remove the Post-Office from its present cramped quarters at the corner of Washington and Halsted streets is being fully appreciated, and anybody going through the new building at present has to pick up hus steps, if he does not, want to get plastered into one of the walls or get his No. 13 boots nailed to the floor by one of the carpentering brigade. It is probable that the building will be ready for occupation in a week or ten days more at most.
Chicago Tribune, June 13, 1878
The remodeling of the Honoré Building is progressing rapidly. The Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railway Company will occupy the corner store on the main floor, which has a frontage of eighty feet on Adams street and forty feet upon Dearborn street. The Company will also occupy that portion of the second floor lying south of the S=Dearborn street entrance to the building. The third floor of the building is being rapidly put in shape for use as military headquarters, and great care is being taken in fitting them up. The offices will have a frontage on both Adams and Dearborn streets, and consequently have plenty of light. Workmen are moving the main stair-case of the building to the back end of the hall. This stair-case now comes out on Dearborn street, and leads to the Mailing Department, Postmaster’s Office, Special Agents’ Department, Railway Service Division, and Letter Carriers’ Department. The main entrance to the second floor will be found hereafter on Adams street. A passenger elevator is to be placed in the building.
Chicago Tribune January 5, 1879
THE FIRST FIRE OF 1879.
It is a little over a year since the citizens of Chicago have been interested or terrified, as the case may be, by the sight of a large and disastrous conflagration. It was in the latter part of 1877 that the grand Singer Building, on the corner of State and Washington streets, went up in smoke and down in ashes, and since then there has been nothing deserving the name of a conflagration, nothing which could fill the streets in the business centre of the city with an eager and excited crowd of spectators, until ‘the blaze of yesterday, which destroyed one of the most beautiful buildings of Chicago, one of those which rose from the ashes of a predecessor soon after the fire of 1871,—the Honoré Block. It seems as if institutions, as well as men, had their fates. This is emphatically true of the Chicago Post-Office. which yesterday made its third move since 1871, and this move, too, not, as it was hoped, to the Government Building, but over to the Singer Building, which was just constructed in time to accommodate it, as the Honrore Block opened its hospitable doors in July, 1874, to receive the City Post-Office, then evicted from its headquarters, on Wabash avenue. It is fortunate that this last move was executed with much less loss than any of its predecessors. There was more time than in 1871, it is true, and there was also, perhaps, more system, and the destruction of the letters and other public property cannot be compared with that which occurred in that memorable conflagration. It was in 1871 that the Post-Office moved first. Then it established itself in the old Methodist Church, on the corner of Harrison street and Wabash avenue, was driven out of there by the fire of 1874, and is now once more compelled to move on extraordinarily short notice.
A little after 3 o clock yesterday afternoon, an alarm of fire was given from Box No. 42, at the corner of Monroe and LaSalle streets. A very few minutes afterwards a consolidated alarm was turned in from the same box, and the engines for a radius of miles around were hurrying to the spot and in a brief time, had made their connections with the hose and were at work upon the flames, which had, unfortunately, owing to neglect, the peculiar construction of the building, and its inflammable character, gained such headway that it was impossible to stop them; and, though the firemen worked with the zeal, knowledge, and determination character of Banner’s boys, it was impossible for them to do more than to save the surrounding buildings. The grand structure on which their attention was chiefly concentrated was practically ruined, involving a heavy loss not only upon the Connecticut Mutual Life-Insurance Company, into whose hands it fell by the foreclosure of a heavy mortgage, and which had also expended, during the spring and summer of last year, $50,000 in renovating the structure, but also upon the hapless law firms whose costly libraries were in great part consumed, upon the Chicago & Alton Railroad, which had its headquarters there, and also upon the Military Department of the Missouri, whose records, though probably saved in great part, were still somewhat damaged.
The destruction is the more to be regretted, and is the more surprising, since the building was fitted up with all the apparatus for giving early notice of a fire, and also for extinguishing it. It was provided throughout with the mercurial fire-alarm, and also had a private pump of its own, of great capacity, and was furnished with standpipes which, it was expected, would supply all the water that was needed. Part of these advantages were neutralized by the faulty construction of the building, the elevator shaft carrying the flames almost in a moment from the basement to the dome; partly by the immense quantity of wood in the building; partly by the inflammable mansard, which was far beyond the reach of the steamers; and partly by the intense cold, which bad its effect, though an almost imperceptible one, upon the movements of the firemen. It is impossible for men, even those as well trained and so energetic as the members of the Chicago Fire Department, to do the full and absolute measure of their work when the thermometer is below zero, when they are handling hose through which pours a flood of water which is almost at the freezing point, and when the ground on which they stand is covered with lce-cold water to the depth of nearly a foot. It is doubtful whether others could have done as well as they did, could have shown the endurance, the promptness, and the earnestness which they, under the orders of Marshal Benner, displayed yesterday afternoon.
As will be seen further along in the report, arrangements had been made for securing headquarters for the Post-Office and the Alton Railroad, and similar arrangements will speedily be made for the army headquarters. The beneficial effect of the fire wil probably be to expedite Congress to induce it to grant so large an appropriation that the Government Building, now nearing completion, may be fitted up for occupancy by the Post-Office Department, at least by late spring. There can be no question that this will be done. For eight years now, the third largest Post-Office in the country has been living in hired buildings and has thrice been burned out. It will never do to expose the valuable property of the Government to another such hazard,—never do to put the citizens of this great city to a renewal of the inconvenience they have suffered. Congress reassembles this week, and the first thing that the Chicago Congressmen should do is to call up the Appropriation bill, which covers the Government:Bnilding, and see that it is pushed through.
It is difficult at this moment to estimate the exact loss, because it cannot be told until to-day how much the walls have been injured and precisely how far the interior of the building has been destroyed. The original cost of the building was $100,000, loaned to Honoré by the Connecticut Mutual, about $150,000 more which he succeeded in raising from various quarters, or consisting in land which be traded to the contractors, and $50,000 expended in the renovation by the Connecticut Mutual after it came into its hands. There was also, probably, $50,000 worth of material in the old building. So far as can be ascertained, however, the damage by the present fire is limited to the upper floors, and it seems as if $150,000 at the outside ought to make good the loss. This, how- ever, is a conjectural estimate, subject to a closer inspection to-day. There is good insurance to the extent of $100,000. The losses of the occupants—the Post-Office Department, the Chicago. & Alton Railroad, Army Headquarters, law firms, etc.—will ,not exceed $45,000, and this-may be reduced in case the valuable law libraries come out in anything like decent condition.
The account of the fire, as furnished by the reporters of THE TRIBUNE, who were* early upon the spot, is given below.
THE FIRST ALARM.
The first intimation of the fire received at the fire-alarm office was from a half-grown boy, who rushed in and said:
Fire in the Post-Office.
Almost at the same moment boxes No. 43. corner Monroe and Dearborn streets, and No. 47, corner of Adams and Clark streets, were turned in,—one at 3:27 and the other at 2:32. The man whose name is Michael Nugent, was employed in the distributing department of the Post-Office, and haa been sent by the head of the department, Mr. Vierling, to give the alarm. A string with a key at either end was given him. One of the keys fitted the fire-alarm box No. 47, and the other some door in the building. Unfortunately, the youth got hold of the latter, and tried to open the signal-station door with it. Of course he couldn’t do so, but he persisted in the attempt, it never occurring to him, in his excitement, that the other one might fit, and, after fiVe minutes of vain effort, he concluded to run to the central office, about a block distant, and tell the operators. The Fire-Insurance Patrol got an alarm on the mechanical telegraph, and were the first to reach the scene, one of the men turning in Box No. 43. Before the first relay of engines arrived—Nos. 1, 5, 10, 11,. 13, 21, trucks 1, 2, and 6—smoke was issuing from the roof, though there was apparently no fire between it and the basement, from the Adams street entrance, to which a vast volume of smoke was out. As the structure was five stories in height, with a Mansard roof 25 feet high, the latter being beyond the reach of a ground stream,—Assistant-Marshal Shay saw at a glance that more help was needed, and at 3:40 sent in a combined second and third. This brought on the engines Nos. 6, 7, S, 9, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18, 23, 25, and 27, and trucks 3 and 4. Later (at 4:30), Nos. 19, 3, 29, 22, 26, and 20 were ordered by Chief Benner. This made twenty-four steamers and five trucks, all of which were at work by 5 o clock, and most of them were on duty the greater part of the evening.
As near as can be ascertained. the fire broke out in the basement near the, boller, and spread thence into the carpenter-shop. A steam-fitter named Harry Odenbaugh ran up-stairs shouting fire to alarm the occupants of the different rooms. In a very few minutes. however, the smoke was so dense in the hallways that escape by the stairways was cut off, and about twenty people, mostly women employed in tho bag-repairing room, experienced considerable difficulty in getting out of the upper stories. All, however, were rescued. The smoke drove out the employes of the Post-Office,. but not before those in the-mooey-order office and stamp departments had put their books, papers, money, etc., into the vaults. The men in the west wing had to run for their lives. this portion, though separated from the main building by a court, filling so rapidly with smoke that they could save anything. The firemen, however, went in and hoisted the windows, and, the smoke being driven out by the wind, tbe employes went to work with a will and in a very short time had all the mail in the street, whence it was carried to the American Express Building and other places in the vicinity. Not a letter was lost; nor were many newspapers. Everything in the distributing department, stamp-room, and carriers’ room was carried out, even to the cases, no fire reaching the west wingg, in which these rooms were located. Perhaps the only serious loss, beyond the furniture, to the Government will arise from the destruction of stamped envelopes, which were in the basement, about twenty feet from the carpenter-shop. No fire had reached them at 6 o clock, but they were soaking wet.
The Honoré Block
NW Corner of Dearborn and Monroe Streets.
The fire made its way from the carpenter-shop into the storage rooms, and reached the roof through the elevators in the south end of the building. No particular blaze was noticed in the basement at all, the shavings, paper, and wood-work seeming to be smoked to pieces. Along toward 4 o clock the roof began to blaze, first in one part and then in another. Every few minutes large pieces of iron and timber would tumble to the sidewalk. The remarkable metallic figure on the ball which ornamented the centre of the Dearborn-street front, and which was once said to be H. Honoré motioning to Eastern capitalists, in a short time,—was melted, perhaps, by the heat. The Mansard roof, composed of wood and corrugated iron, yielded gradually, to the flames, and by a quarter of 5 most of it had vanished, the fire by this time having possession of the fifth floor, particularly that part south of the Dearborn street entrance, and, by 5 o’clock, of the whole of it. Below no flames were to be seen Dearborn street in the centre of the structure, where the stairways, were located, brands fallen down through tha elevator and set tbe wood-work ablaze; but in the rear the fire bad worked its wa down to the third floor, nearly all the window-frames having ignited, and the rear rooms, separated those fronting on Dearborn street by a hallway fifteen feet wide, were all lighted up by the burning of their contents. This rear part was difficult to get at, in fact, could not be gotten at except from the roof of the west wing and that of the Howland Block (old Honore Building), just north of the alley, and from these positions water could be, thrown into only the fifth floor. There were four streams on the top of the Howland Block, eight on the top of the west wing, seven on Dearborn street, and five on Adams street. The two first mentioned did good execution,—that is, the water was thrown into the building; but, with one or two exceptions, the balance were for a long time useless, since the water could not be forced up high enough. Only the first-class steamers could do that. Efforts were to break the window panes with the streams, but they were unsuccessful, as in the case at the Singer Building; so guns and navy revolvers were procured, and bullets and buckshot fired at them. As it was im- possible to take aim, owing to the smoke and steam which filled the street, very little glass was broken, the missiles generally hitting the stone front. When a pane was struck by accident the crowd yelled. This was the only way water could be gotten into the stories below the fifth, and the attempt was finally to a limited extent.
Chicago Tribune, January 5, 1879
This building has been an unfortunate one from the beginning. It has been twice burned, and almost as often sold out under foreclosure proceedings. Soon after Dearborn street was opened through south of Monroe street, Mr. H.H. Honoré; acquired the property on which the ruined structure stands, and errected, a year before the fire of 1871, a building there, borrowing the money, $300,000, from the Connecticut Mutual Life-Insurance Company.
In October, 1871, it disappeared as a matter of course in the flames. In the following year its reconstruction was begun, the intention being to make of it a large hotel withnover 200 rooms. Honore borrowed $100,000 more of the Connecticut Mutual, and put in $150,000 of his own.
The Honoré Building, as it is called, on the corner of Dearborn and Monroe streets, was erected first, and was known as the Real-Estate Exchange. Next after that in order of time came the Honoré Block. More money was borrowed from the Connecticut Mutual, the interest on which Mr. Honoré was unable to pay and it passed, after a fashion, into the hands of Mr. Potter Palmer, as Trustee. The structure went up little by little, and was finished during the early part of 1873. The upper story, however, was left untouched, and the southern part of the building was in an exceedingly incomplete condition. The Grand Pacific Hotel, and the Palmer House, had gotten the start of it as far as hotel purposes were concerned. Mr. Honoré’s money had run out, and it remained a barn without an occupant, until the fire of July, 1874, which destroyed the Methodist church in which the Post-Office was located. Then it came into use, and the Post-Office was transferred there a day o two after the blaze which drove it off to Wabash avenue.
The panic of 1873 came along and destroyed any hope which Mr. Honoré might have had of retaining his building. It passed, after the usual litigation, by sale into the hands of Connecticut Mutual for $500,000, being $40,000 less than the principal and accumulated interest and taxes. The insurance company found an elephant on its hands. As time wore on, and the Government bulding across the street drew nearer completion, the value of the property on Dearborn and Adams streets for renting purposes began to increase. The Mutual saw an opportunity for doing something with nits big baby, and early last lear, expended $50,000 in fitting and refittingb the Honore Block.
Money was lavishly expended in changing the internal arrangements in many respects. The stairs were swung around, elevators were put in, and the quarters of Gen. Sheridan and the executive officers of the Chicago & Alton Railroad Company found rooms there, and various law firms, attracted by its nearness to the City-Hall and its presumptive nearness to the Federal Courts, began getting offices there, and fitted them up in a style commensurate with the fineness of the structure. And now, just at a time the Company was about to derive a return from its heavy investments and was beginning to believe that Chicago real estate was not such a bad thing after all, the whole thing disappeared in smoke and flame, and there is probably mourning to-day on the banks of Connecticut.
The original structure, destroyed by the fire of 1871, was intended for a European hotel, and
The Reconstruction Began
in the summer of 1873, Wheelock & Thomas being the architects. The old plans were followed. The building had a Joliet stone front, treated in the Renaissance style, and was six stories in height, including the Mansard roof. The frontage on Dearborn street was 190 feet, and on Adams street 114 feet. It was undoubtedly one of the handsomest and best constructed buildings in the city. Mr. H.H. Honoré, the owner, spent about $250,000, and was then compelled to leave the structure in an unfinished state for lack of funds. It remained so until about eight months ago, when the Connecticut Mutual, into whose hands it had passed by foreclosure of a mortgage, began fitting it up for an office building, the whole interior being remodeled. As it stood yesterday morning, taking into view the depreciation in values, the building was worth at least $250,000. Mr. Honoré, in all, put $550,000 into the two buildings, the first one costing $300,000. The salvage will be something, and the insurance companies may, therefore, save a little of the $225,000 The accompanying diagram will give an idea of the ground plan:
Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1893
FOURTEEN STORY STRUCTURE TO BE KNOWN AS THE MARQUETTE BUILDING, is to Be Located at the Northwest Corner of Dearborn and Adams Streets, on the Site of the Honoré Block, Now Being Demolished.