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Life Span: 1872-1922
Location: SW corner of S Michigan and E Jackson streets
Architect: W. W. Boyington
On October 1, 1872, the Gardner House, on Michigan Avenue, was finished, and was the first American hotel opened in the burned district. The Leland Hotel was formerly known as the Gardner House. The building was erected shortly after the fire of 1871. by Horatio H. Gardner, treasurer of the Gardner & Spry Lumber Company, and cost, including the ground, about $600,000. It was opened in October, 1872, by Mr. Gardner and Frederick Gould. They continued in the management until about 1875, when Captain Albert E. Goodrich became proprietor. Then followed changes, occurring annually, as follows: In 1876-77, Charles H. Gaubert was proprietor; 1877-78. Luther B. Brady; 1878-79, J. D. Marlon; in the latter part of 1879, Jewett Wilcox became manager ; and, in 1880, George B. Horton was superintendent. At this time the property had run down, and as a hotel it was not first-class. In the early part of 1881,
Warren F. Leland, late of the Delavan House, Albany, N. Y., came to Chicago, and purchased the Gardner House for $220,000. He has spent an additional $130,000 in re-arranging and perfecting the hotel, and has made it one of the most handsome buildings in Chicago. It is an imposing brick- structure, six stories high above the basement, and is massive and solid in appearance. It is essentially fire-proof, and the main fronts are provided with iron balconies and fire-escapes, accessible from hallways, which afford easy mediums of escape in case of fire. The building contains two hundred and sixteen rooms, and under its new manager has become one the most popular hotels in the Western country.
The hotel was remodeled in 1881, at a cost of $300,000 which expanded it to 275 rooms, and added two passenger elevators. It was always noticeable for the varying bright colors with which its walls were covered.
The hotel changed its name one last time to The Stratford.
The following description of the Leland Hotel is from The Standard Guide to Chicago For the Year 1891 by Flinn & Sheppard:
Located on the corner of Michigan blvd. and Jackson St., Lake front, facing the site of a portion of the World’s Columbian Exposition. For many years this was known as the Gardner House, but not until its name and management were changed did it come to be reckoned among the great hotels of the city. Its location is charming, on one of the finest boulevards in the city, overlooking the majestic Lake Michigan and yet being within easy access of the entire business section, the railroad depots, street car terminals, retail stores, theatres, etc. Numerous improvements have been made both in the interior and exterior of the building from year to year, and they are still going on. An immense addition to the structure is among the latest of these. The sanitary condition of the hotel has received the serious attention of the proprietor. The latest and best methods to insure the escape of all gases and offensive odors have been adopted, and the sewerage has been pronounced perfect. Recent alterations have made the house more beautiful than ever. The renovating and painting have been accomplished by experienced and competent artisans ; and the frescoing of all the halls, parlors and public rooms has been by the hand or under the eye of the famous Almini. The cuisine department has been supplied with new and improved ranges and all the latest and best utensils to insure wholesome and savory food of every kind. The dining room of the Leland is a large, well lighted, handsome, airy room, finished in the latest style. In the hallway leading to the dining room, between the hours of half past five and eight o’clock, an orchestra of six pieces is stationed to render music during dinner time. This is a feature that no other hotel in Chicago has for the enjoyment of its guests. The advantages are,at once perceived of a sojourn at a hotel past which all the finest turnouts of a great city quietly but rapidly drive.
From the front of the Leland its inmates may, without the slightest inconvenience or undue curiosity, scan during every fine day the beauty and dress of the elite of Chicago, as well as their attractive carriages and equipages. No watering places on the continent offer so fine a point to study the exterior characteristics of the distinguished leading citizens of a population of much more than a million, as do the balconies and windows of the Leland Hotel. No noisy procession, street cars, market wagon or peddler is allowed on this boulevard. During the greater part of every fine day, beautiful carriages are moving continuously, but when the hours of rest approach, the avenue becomes quiet, and so remains until the. seekers of health, pleasure and recreation turn out in their carriages on the morrow. The Leland has superior accommodations for families and gentlemen, with a table of peculiar excellence. Warren Leland, proprietor.
The Leland Hotel
The Leland Hotel
Robinson’s Map 1886
Volume 1 Plate 7