Inter Ocean Building II (Monroe Theater)
Life Span: 1900-1977
Location: 57 W. Monroe street
Architect: W. Carbys Zimmerman
Chicago Tribune, November 15, 1900
The Inter Ocean is to have a new home on the site of the old Columbia Theater at 106 to 110 Monroe street, and work will begin at once preparing the foundation for a modern fireproof three-story and basement structure for newspaper purposes to be ready for occupancy by May 1, 1901. This is the date that the lease at the northwest corner of Madison and Dearborn streets expires. The cost of the new building is estimated at $200,000.
The property has been under consideration by Charles T. Yerkes for several weeks, but it was not until late yesterday afternoon that the deal was closed. By the terms of the transaction John C. McCord of the Columbia Theater Amusement company transferred to Mr. Yerkes the leasehold interest, expiring in 1931, for a lump sum. The ground is owned by the heirs of James A. Adsit, and rental is leased on 5 per cent of an appraisal of the property every ten years. The next revaluation will come in April. The Swift commission in 1896 valued the ground qt $522,000.
The new building will have a frontage in Monroe street of sixty-nine and a half feet and a depth to an alley in the rear of 190 feet, equal to 13,705 square feet of space for each floor. In addition to that part of the building set apart for the paper there will be a number of offices.
The Columbia Theater was burned on the afternoon of March 30 last.
Inter Ocean, May 19, 1901
The first number of The Inter Ocean was issued March 25, 1872, from a temporary structure located in Congress street near the center of the block now occupied by the Auditorium. In April, 1873, the establishment was removed to a larger building at No. 119 Lake street. There was another removal to the more commodious quarters in The Inter Ocean building, No. 85 Madison street. In May, 1899, the establishment was again removed to the still larger building at Madison and Dearborn streets, where it remained until May 1, 1901. On that date the paper was issued from the modern Inter Ocean building on the site of the old Columbia theater, Nos. 106, 108, and 110 Monroe street.
The new home of The Inter Ocean is probably the most modern in arrangement, convenience, and construction and the best equipped newspaper office in the world. The building has been erected with sole reference to the needs of a great metropolitan daily. Every mechanical device tending to save time and produce desired results has been adapted, and improvements have been made in every department, The comfort of the employes has not been forgotten and the arrangements for their special benefit are superior to those in any newspaper office in Chicago.
Building Completed on Time.
The wrecking ball of the walls of the old Columbia theater building was begun Feb. 1, 1900, and despite the cold and disagreeable weather of the winter, The Inter Ocean building was completed on time and the difficult task of transferring the heavy machinery and appliances was accomplished without interference with the work of any of the numerous departments. There were no delays in publication and no inconvenience to business or other patrons. The first press was moved to the new building Sunday, April 14, the second April 21, and the third April 28. One-half of the of the type-setting machines were moved April 21 and the remainder April 25. On this date the stereotypers, copy readers, reporters, telegraph operators, news bureau and sporting department moved into the new quarters. The editors and editorial forced moved April 26 and the business office, mailing-room, circulation department, and library were moved April 29 and 30.
The building is three stories high and covers a ground space of 68 by 190 feet. The structure is of modern steel, the foundations being strong enough to support three additional stories. Particular attention was paid to light and ventilation. These problems proved somewhat difficult owing to the dead walls of buildings on each side, but they wee finally solved in an admirable manner. The front is of white enameled terra cotta of the renaissance design, filled with carefully studied details of the classic order. The chief feature is the domed entrance of green terra cotta, which is ornamented by a glass mosaic ceiling studded with electric lights and and artistically laid mosaic floor.
Front Ornamented with Statuary.
A heroic figure representing “Progress,” eight feet in height, stands on a high base in the center of the domed rotunda. It is boldly modeled and splendidly executed. The figure is that of a woman who holds aloft a banner. The pose, which represents the forward march of progress, is most effective. The figure gives the impression of serene confidence and steady purpose. The face is is nobly molded, and it indicates determination, hope, and high expectation. The Grecian draperies are well handled, and the statue is an important addition to the handsome building. The statue is of green terra cotta, to correspond with the pillars and other pieces of architectural sculpture.
On the balconies are two groups of statuary, each containing three figures, the central one being that of a woman. Both groups are symbolical of the press. In one “History,” in the form of a woman, stands in the attitude of repose, with head bent over the pages upon which she is writing. At her left a messenger boy waits for the written story of the day, while at her right, half kneeling, a printer takes the scattering pages and puts them into type. In this group the sculptor’s clever conception is carried out in a realistic and dignified manner. The companion piece to this has “Truth” for a central figure. “Truth” holds her glass up to the world, while at her feet two newsboys stand, one watching quietly for the every-day pictures on the mirror and the other waiting impatiently for the unusual tableaux that will give him an “extra.”
These statues for the Inter Ocean are the work of Max Mauch, the well-known sculptor, who, with his partner, Carl Bell, won honors at the Paris exposition.
In the rotunda is a specially constructed chandelier containing sixty incandescent lights. It is one of the largest and most beautiful in the city, and produces a splendid light effect at night. The counters in the rotunda, marking off the space on the left used for advertising clerks, and on the right for the subscription clerks, are made of San Diego mahogany, which was allowed ten years to season. The wood is of beautiful grain and the counters are said to be the finest in Chicago.
The Business Offices.
The general business offices of the paper are in the rear of the rotunda on a floor raised about eight feet above the street level. They are reached by a broad flight of stairs of easy ascent. Everything on this floor is as open as possible, each department having abundance of light and perfect ventilation. The different departments are separated by low paneled partitions. The cashier’s counters have plate glass screens, which maintain the open effect of a clear view across the whole floor. The gallery room is also on this floor and is surrounded by a low partition, so as to not destroy the general effect of openness.
The offices of the publisher and business manager are on either side of the stairway in the front part of the building. On the left of the center aisle are the offices of the cashier and bookkeepers, and the subscription department. On the right are the display and classified advertising departments, and the department devoted to city and country circulation. The dimensions of this room are 55 by 100 feet. There are a number of fireproof vaults on this floor. One 7 by 22 feet, is used for files and storage; another 7 by 36 feet, is for the use of the bookkeepers. The circulators have a vault 8 by 20 feet, and a filing room 7 by 16 feet has been set apart for the subscription department.
In the gallery-room the mailing list or out-of-town subscribers is kept. It is probably the largest room in the United States set aside for this purpose, being 35 by 70 feet. It is arranged for handling 2,000 galleys or a list of 800,000 subscribers, 200,000 of which are always accessible to the printer without the extra labor of removing the galleys from the cabinet or table.
A skylight if unusual dimensions covers the center of the building. It is made of steel frame work and wired glass selected to stand a great strain. The glass covers a space of 28 by 75 feet. The color of the glass deflects the bright rays of the sun and prevents excessive heat in aqny of the rooms beneath.
The Inter Ocean, May 19, 1901
By an ingenious arrangement of the floor levels a high pressroom has been secured. On a level with the entrance floor is a visitors’ gallery from which the public may view the operations of the printing presses. These presses, of which three are now in operation, the fourth being shipped from the factory, have a combined capacity each hour of 128,000 cut and folded papers of eight pages each. Space has been reserved in the pressroom and the foundations laid for additional presses. They will be erected as needed to care for the rapidly increasing circulation of The Inter Ocean. The presses are equipped with pneumatic lifts which serve them with paper saving the hard labor and loss of time of the old method.
There is a storage-room in the front part of the building on this floor for 500 rolls of paper. There are also rooms for the building superintendent and janitors and storage-rooms for supplies. The paper is received on the Monroe street side of the building and is lowered to the basement on a pneumatic lift. The papers are delivered from the presses to the mailing-room by two rapidly moving pneumatic lifts.
In the rear of the pressroom and over the boiler-room is a mezzanine floor on a level with the alley in the rear of the building. Here the mailing-room is located. A system has been devised whereby the papers are automatically delivered to the mailing tables where they are wrapped and placed in the mail bags. The delivery of papers to automobile wagons for city subscribers and to newsboys is made from this room.
Power and Lighting Plant.
In the rear of the basement is the engine-room. The plant consists of two high-class water tube boilers, which are fed automatically by an ingenious arrangement which distributes the coal to the fire, cokes it, and feeds the furnace in an even manner, producing no smoke. The engines are of Phoenix make. They are compound, high pressure and 185 speed. One has a capacity of 150 horse power and the other of 360. They are directly connected with one 250 K.W. and one 125 K.W. Western Electric generators which furnish a current at 110 volts for the lighting system and at 220 volts for the motors throughout the building, of which there are about forty. In this portion of the building the air compressor which supplies eight compressed air lifts and the pneumatic tube system is also located.
The drainage system is considered equal if not superior to that of any building in the city. Tile drains are used and the flow is regulated by an automatic electric pump which entirely does away with dampness.
The switchboard for the electric lighting and power plants is located in the engine-room. It consists of a beautiful white Italian marble slab upon which is mounted all the electrical testing and measuring instruments and switches. From this board all the lights and power in the building are controlled. It requires 2,300 incandescent bulbs to light the building.
The Editorial Department.
The entire second floor, with the exception of that portion used by the etchers, is occupied by the editorial department. There are six rooms looking out on Monroe street, which are occupied by the editor-in-chief, managing editor, Sunday editor, editorial writers, literary, dramatic, and musical editors. Back of these rooms and separated by a hallway is the large room devoted to the use of the news force. It is forty-five feet square and fitted with every modern device for comfort and convenience. The city editor occupies a room to the right connecting with the main room.
In the newsroom the telegraph and night city editors occupy tables shaped in the form of a half circle, the editors sitting inside the circle and the copy readers outside. They are placed only a few feet apart, and between them, a little removed from the center, is the desk of the night editor. round the room are the desks of the different department heads, such as financial editor, commercial editor, marine, real-estate, political, city hall, railroad, insurance, and general reporters. Opening off the newsroom at the east side of the building is the reference library and fileroom. The editorial offices of The Weekly Inter Ocean and the telephone exchange are also located here.
The entrance hall and stairways are on the west side of the building. Between the hallway and the corner and the court on this floor are the telegraph-rooms, barber shop, and laboratories. The telegraph-room is fitted with all the latest telegraphic appliances. A lead cable brings fifty telegraph wires into the building, twenty-four of which run to a glass-inclosed switchboard. There are tables, instruments, and typewriters for eighteen operators. In this room the news service of the New York Sun, New York World, and cables and dispatches from all parts of the world are received. With the exception of two leased wires for the transmission of press matter to New York, all the instruments are used for receiving dispatches. South of this room is another fitted up with special reference to the work of The Inter Ocean News Bureau, which supplies a number of papers throughout the country with news features. The rooms for artists, photographers, etchers, and special writers are in the rear. The news-room, library, and telegraph-rooms are lighted by day from the court. The rooms in the rear receive their light from the light shaft and from the windows looking on the alley.
The Inter Ocean Building
Composing and Stereotyping Rooms.
The third floor, 170×70 feet, is occupied by the composing and stereotyping departments. Along the east wall at the front is the battery of duplex linotype machines, each machine being supplied with an individual motor, which greatly economizes power and secures a more steady and satisfactory service than the old method. The galley-racks, make-up tables, and stands are arranged with special reference to the saving of time. In the center of this portion of the room is the raised platform and office of the foreman, which is connected with all parts of the building by pneumatic tubes, telephones, and speaking tubes. As viewed by the printing craft at large the composing-room is considered the finest in the United States, there being but one in New York and one in San Francisco worthy of being placed in the same category. The proofreaders occupy a room on this floor, in the northwest corner of the building. It is well lighted and contains all conveniences for first-class work. The facilities of the advertising department of the composing-room are such that two forces can be engaged at the same time on identically the same kind of work.
The stereotyping-room is in the southwest part of this floor. Improvements have been made in the metal-heating furnaces and instead of using coal, natural gas has been substituted, thus facilitating the work in a department where time is an important factor. The large plant is equipped with modern machinery operated by independent electric motors. One of the departures in the construction of buildings of this character is is noticeable here in that the space around the light shaft is surrounded by a railing instead of a glass partition. A bridge is used to cross the great light shaft in the center, thus facilitating work in the composing-room.
Conveniences of the Building.
The interior of the building is finished in quarter-sawed oak. The floors are of maple, except those in the stereotype room and under the linotype machines, where boiler plate is used. The ventilating system is modern in every detail. Electric blowers are used to carry off the bad air which is generated in the stereotype, mailing, engine, boiler, and press rooms. All the electric fixtures were specially made to suit the needs of a building devoted solely to newspaper uses. By this means the lighting problem, which was a difficult one for the architects and engineers, was overcome.
There is a complete drinking water system in the building. The water is first taken from the city main to a tank on the roof, from whence it passes through a filter down into a refrigeration in the basement, which has a capacity of six tons of ice, and then up to a storage tank near the ceiling of the third floor. From here it is distributed through fountains at various convenient places. There is a continual circulation and the water is always refreshingly cool and clear. Hot and cold water for cleansing purposes is carried to all the lavatories. The building is heated by exhaust steam from the engines. The radiators are controlled by the Van Auken vacuum system, which insures an even temperature.
The Inter Ocean is connected with the Western Union Telegraph officer, the City Press association and the Associated Press by pneumatic tubes. The plant for their operation is located in the front portion of the basement. The office also has a tube system connecting the counting, news and composing rooms operated by the same plant. The wires for the telephones, electrical light and power are hidden from view. They are carried from the basement to each floor in a fireproof shaft especially constructed for that purpose. The building is equipped with speaking tubes and a telephone system, which is as complete as it can be made. Each department is equipped with a pneumatic clock, regulated by a master clock placed on the west wall of the business office in the space set apart for the publisher.
Rapid Progress of the Paper.
Charles T. Yerkes purchased the controlling interest in The Inter Ocean Nov. 15, 1897, and the establishment was reorganized with George Wheeler Hinman as editor-in-chief and manager, and Wm. Penn Nixon as publisher. Under the new management, The Inter Ocean has been conspicuous for its vigorous editorial policy and for its greatly improved news service. The circulation of the daily and Sunday papers has doubled and the advertising patronage is larger than ever before in the history of the paper. The Weekly Inter Ocean has the largest circulation of any high grade political weekly newspaper in the United States.
The only steadfast, aggressive Republican newspaper in Chicago, with the best news service west of New York City and the best equipped building in the world. The Inter Ocean enters upon a new era of activity and prosperity.
Inter Ocean Building
Sanborn Fire Map
Inter Ocean Building
Chicago Directory Map
Inter Ocean Building
57 W. Monroe
The Inter Ocean, May 7, 1914
Chicago Tribune, January 16, 1919
Under a lease just closed, the old Inter Ocean building at 55-59 West Monroe street, will be converted into a moving picture theater. About $150,000 will be spent in remodeling and equipping the building. It will have a seating capacity of 1,500. The plans, being prepared by Architects Postle & Fisher, provide for a most attractive playhouse.
The building has been leased by Charles C. Adsit and James M. Adsit, the owners of the property, to William S. Barbee for a term of twenty-five years from Jan. 1, 1919 at an annual rental of $50,000 for the first fifteen years, $60,000 for the succeeding five, and $75,000 for the last five years, a total for the term of $1,425,000.
Prior to the erection of the present building, the lot was occupied by the Columbia theater, which was destroyed by fire.
The Barbee Theater
August 22, 1920
Barbee’s Loop Theatre
LEFT: February 27, 1921
RIGHT: January 19, 1923
Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1923
The Fox Film corporation has taken over Barbee’s Loop theater at 59 West Monroe, as rumored several days ago, the deal being closed yesterday through Oliver & Co. The lessors are James M.and Jeanie M. Adsit. The movie concern takes possession in August and after a renovation will open in September, probably under the name Monroe theater.
The Monroe Theater
After Art Deco Re-design
Chicago Tribune, June 7, 1971
Chicago Tribune, May 23, 1977
FILM NOTE: The downtown Monroe Theater is being demolished, and so dies a soft-core skin house. It won’t be missed.