Stewart-Busby Building, Metropolitan Hotel, Stewart Building, Part of Block 37.
Life Span: 1872-1896
Location: NW Corner State and Washington Streets
Chicago Tribune, March 30, 1873
Notwithstanding the impression that there will be, for a while this summer, and, perhaps, throughout the year, a surplus of unoccupied stores and offices, there is strong confidence that, in view of the expanding country trade, there will be no surplus of unoccupied stores in any part of the city’s year hence. An instance of this confidence among our own peopleis shown by the arrangements recently completed by Mr. Charles Busby—one of the most extensive and successful builders in the city—for building an aggregate frontage of about 260 feet of first class business buildings on State and LaSalle streets. Mr. Busby recently bought for $145,000 the lot known as the Crosby Music Hall property on State street just north of Washington. This lot has an east frontage of 91½ feet on State street by a depth of 90 feet. The owners of the Stewart property (old St. James Hotel lot on the northwest corner of State and Washington streets) which adjoins the property adjoining have also determined to build in conjunction with Mr, Busby, this spring, thus making an aggregate footage of 183 feet on State and 90 feet on Washington street.
When these buildings are completed, the only unimproved lots on Washington street between Fifth avenue and Wabash will be the lot next the Chamber of Commerce, and the Crosby Opera-House lot, 140 feet south front on Washington st., next west of the Stewart property (held for sale yet, we believe, by Mr. W.D. Kerfoot). This property would, we we believe, be even yet the most central and best location for a new opera-house on the scale of the old Crosby Opera-House, and if the proposed Joint Stock Company to build an opera-house has sufficient vitality to accomplish anything, it would be worth their while to take the matter of securing the lot in consideration. The building up of the St. James’ corner will make the junction of Washington and State streets superior in point of architectural elegance to any other junction of streets in the city—a point where strangers can be taken to get a view of the best building that the city can show from one spot, and would not only be a good locality for an opera-house, but would be some of the most valuable business property in the city.
The Land Owner, April, 1874
A NEW CHICAGO HOTEL.—STEWART-BUSBY BLOCK, CORNER STATE AND WASHINGTON STREETS.
The season for spring trade will soon open, and the thoughts of business men are now turned Chicagoward. The rebuilt city has many attractions, and no other city has the same enterprise. To Chicago we must all go to do some of our trading. Which of the new hotels to make our stopping place, is now the question. The number and magnificence of Chicago hotels, that have risen from the ashes of the deatroyed city, is bewildering. A few words about
The New Metropolitan.
On the site of the Crosby Opera House, and former St. James Hotel, on State Street, now stands the Metropolitan Hotel. It is an elegant building, containing one hundred and twenty rooms, is well furnished and provided with everything essential to the comfort of guests. Directly opposite, on the east side of State street, is Field, Leiter & Co.’s magnificent Dry Goods Palace. Around it are the most princely business establishments of new Chicago. Near by is McVicker’s Theatre, and passing the doors of the hotel are street railways and omnibus lines leading to every part of the city. In location the Metropolitan has advantages not excelled by any other Chicago hotel. The house has been open two months, and its present proprietors took charge of it on the 5th of February. It is now conducted by Messrs. Swift & Rowland. Mr. Ira T. Swift has for many years been conductor on the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railway; on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, and the Michigan Southern. He is a thorough business man, has extensive and favorable public acquaintance, and seems to be placed where he can do most good now that he is in this elegant new hotel. Mr. John E. Rowland will be recognized by many of of the patrons of the house as a gentleman who has had prominence as a Mississippi-river man. He has had large business experience as a clerk on the largest river packets. He knows how to run a hotel, and from lively competition with river craft, he has probably learned the secret of moderate charges. The Metropolitan, under this management, is a $2.50 per day house. That it will be a favorite resort for business men, who have occasion to visit Chicago, there can be no doubt. And every convenience sought for in a hotel will be found within its doors.
New Chicago.—The Stewart Busby Block, or Metropolitan Hotel, Corner State and Washington Streets.
The splendid building occupied by this hotel, one of the grandest and most imposing in the city, was erected by Gen. Hart L. Stewart and Mr. Charles Busby, at a cost pf between $170,000 and $180,000. It is built of Cleveland stone, with all modern improvements, the plate glass having been furnished by Foot & Rice. The cornice was supplied by the Star Galvanized Iron Cornice Works of Boomer, Jenks & Cooper, whose factory is at 45 and 47 Van Buren street. This firm manufacture cornices, dormer windows, window caps, pinnacles, facials, etc., and by their superior quality of work have gained a very enviable reputation. The building is thoroughly provided with vaults, which have Sargent & Greenleaf’s celebrated locks.
C.D. Peacock, Jeweler.
The elegant store on the corner of this block is occupied by C.D. Peacock, Esq., one of our oldest and best-known jewelers. This establishment is without a rival in America, as any visitor will testify. In its elaborate fittings, Mr. Peacock has refined a refined taste, which is equally illustrated in his large and valuable stock.
C. D. Peacock State and Washington store
Chicago Tribune Advertisement
December, 12, 1880
J.B. Shay, Dry Goods.
One of our old Chicago merchants finds in this block his permanent home. Mr. Shay is so well and favorably known in this city that we need say nothing of his reputation. His store is one of the finest in the city, and his stock is second to none.
M. Glassbrook, Hair Goods.
Mr. Glassbrook has a fine store in this block, where he displays his large and attractibe stock to great advantage—a point that the ladies must not oberlook. This gentleman now leads the trade in his line in the city.
Julius Newman, Corsets, Etc.
No better location than this could be found in the city for Mr. Newman’s trade, as the ladies who visit his his elegant store so often he stands pre-eminent in the city.
Loomis & Brown, Merchants’ Lunch.
This establishment, located under the Metropolitan and adjoining the main entrance, is really a superb place. The merchants’ lunch set out daily by the proprietors is not equalled in the city, either in point of the viands or the patronage it enjoys. The house deals in the finest brands of wines, liquors and cigars. Everything is so elegantly served there that all go away delighted, and, whct is better, the hosts thoroughly know their business.
Chicago Evening Post, December 13, 1873.
Peacock’s Panic Prices—Crowded Daily Receptions at his New Jewelry Store.
The successful opening of Peacock’s elegant jewelry establishment on the northwest corner of State and Washington streets, opposite Field & Leiter’s, is a sufficient testimony to the discrimination of Chicago ladies in fine jewelry. The beautiful store has been crowded throughout the week, and the variety and fresh design of the goods combined with their surprising low figures, have maintained an even briskness in sending them out of their show cases.
The prices surprise first, then satisfy; and, when the article is looked again looked at, delight.
This is owing to an advantage which Peacock alone enjoyed during the panic, and at a time when gold reached its lowest figure. The other dealers, having their stocks on hand, bought when gold was high. Peacock, having nothing on hand, bought gold when gold was low. Of course, the advantage comes entirely to his patrons. It is now universally admitted that the prices at Peacock’s are the lowest in the city, and the goods the best, the latest in style, and the most exquisite in finish.
Chicago Tribune, May 9, 1896
Stewart’s corner, State and Washington streets, has undergone a great change within the last few days. The building which has stood on it for almost a quarter of a century, and which has during the last few years of its history been one of the landmarks of State street, being rapidly torn down.
Although the old building sold for only $3,000, it cost sixty-two times that to build it. For years it was considered one of the handsomest in the city and was the model of many of the older buildings now standing i State street or scattered throughout the business district.
But the creation of the modern office building meant the doom of the old corner, for Stewart’s corner has regularly undergone an upheaval the building which adorned it was proven to belong to another generation. So a new twelve-story terra cotta structure is going up on Stewart’s corner, which will be as much a revelation to these times as was the first house which ever stood on the lot in its days, and which was built by Gen. Stewart in 1844, or as was the St. James in 1858, or as the building, which is now almost torn down, was in 1873.
All three of the buildings which have stood on Stewart’s corner were built and owned by Gen. Hart L. Stewart, and as the ground is still owned by his heirs and the new building isb to be called the Stewart Building, it is probable the name by which the corner has been known for half a century will be as familiar to coming generations as it has been in the past.
Gen. Stewart received the original deeds for the land from the Illinois and Michigan Canal Commissioners, who were granted the property by the government. The next year the General built a handsome house, in which his family resided for many years. Before he built his house Gen Stewart had to have the sand in the lot taken away by the cartload and replaced by black dirt hauled from the sloughs.
After the business part of the rapidly growing had spread south and east of Stewart’s corner the old house was moved away and the St. James Hotel was built on the lot. It cost $90,000, a big price back in `858, and for a long time was on of the finest buildings in the city. On the ground floor the hotel building were three stores, which were rented for an average og $3,500. In startling contrast to this is the amount paid merely for ground rent by the company putting up the new building. The sum of $56,000 annually is to be paid for the first five years, $64,000 for the next five, and $75,000 each year for the remainder of the term of the ninety-nine years’ lease.
The great fire wiped out the historical St. James, and then Gen. Stewart erected the building which is now being torn down.
One of the most familiar features of the old building was Lapp & Flershem’s big clock. which was in the center of the building on the second floor. More people have regulated their lives by that old clock than by any precept in the neighborhood of State or Washington street, with his bwatch in his hand and gazing vacantly around in every direction. It can be set down he is looking for the old Stewart clock.1
Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1897
Heirs of the Pullman estate have transferred to the Stewart estate the ground at the northwest corner of State and Washington streets upon which the Steward building stands. It will later be transferred to the Northern Trust Company, which will act as trustee. The ground, which has the dimensions of 91×90 feet, was conveyed to George M. Pullman in trust for General Stewart’s heirs. In 1892 it was leased to H.H. Kohlsaat and by him released to the Merrimac Building Company for a term of 102 years at a graduated rental from $47,350 to $75,000 a year. The property has an incumbrance in the form of a first mortgage for $140,000, and another mortgage for $46,000 was placed upon it last week.
Robinson Fire Map
1 In 1896 both Lapp & Flershem and C.D. Peacock moved their businesses to State and Adams Streets (full stereograph below). From 1897-1927 the Lapp & Flershem clock hung on the second story, over the C.D. Peacock sign. C.D. Peacock moved to its famous location at the southeast corner of State and Monroe streets in 1927.