737 N. Michigan Stores, Sterling Insurance Building (1945)
Life Span: 1928-1974
Location: 737 N. Michigan
Architect: Andrew N. Rebori
A. N. Rebori of Rebori, Wentworth, Dewey & McCormick is architect of the above structure to be erected at the northeast corner of Upper Michigan avenue and Superior street by the Charles A. Chapin estate, which owns the Fine Arts building. Details are given in another column.
Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1928
Wreckers are now clearing the site for the five story and basement art center which the estate of Charles A. Chapin, owner of the Fine Arts building> and other loop property, is erecting at the northeast corner of Michigan avenue and Superior street. This improvement, which was first mentioned in this department some weeks ago, will prove an important addition to the Boul Mich’s ever increasing number of exclusive shops.
The new structure was designed especially to provide space for jewel workers, painters, interior decorators, workers in fabrics, objects of art dealers, etc. And there will be a number of display rooms and studios.
The entire ground floor will be used for shops, twenty having entrances both from the street and from an arcade which will traverse the structure. Each shop will be treated in modern design, expressive of the wares on sale, and each will be different from the other.
On the second floor there will be shops and a hall seating 350, which may be used for musicales. lectures, club meetings, etc. The third and fourth floors will have their floors deadened so that musicians can dispense their products without fear of reprisals. And the top floor will have skylights to meet the light needs of artists and sculptors. On the roof will be a bungalow which it is understood will be occupied by one of the Chapins.
A. N. Rebori of Rebori, Wentworth. Dewey & McCormick, Inc. designed the art center which is to he of Indiana limestone. A feature is to be a system of exterior lighting. Luminous bowls will be placed in the base of each pier at the second floor to throw a vertical shaft of light at night. The idea is to emphasize the perpendicular lines of the exterior without interfering with the brilliant window lighting of the shops.
The site fronts 121 feet on Michigan and 130 on Superior, and was formerly occupied by the Winston homestead. The Dahl-Stedman company are the contractors. Baird & Warner will be the renting agents. Occupancy is promised for Oct. 1.
Chicago Tribune, November 18, 1928
Miss Ellis to Have Cafe on No. Michigan
Miss Clara Ellis, who conducted a restaurant on the second floor of the old Willoughby building at the southwest corner of Michigan and Madison for many years, and which closed its doors when wreckers started to clear the way for the new Willoughby tower, has leased space in the new 737 North Michigan avenue building, now nearing completion.
She will open a Miss Clara Ellis, new restaurant bearing her name, which will occupy space on the first and second floors. The decorations are to be modernistic. The lease Is for ten years at an undisclosed rental.
According to John Bally, who closed the lease for the Chapin estate, owners of the building, approximately 1,000 square feet of space will be used by Miss Ellis. She will occupy almost half of the first floor. The opening is planned for next March.
Chicago Tribune, January 21, 1929
SOCIETY EDITOR TURNS DETECTIVE, FINDING SOCIETY ASTRONOMER
The society department, which is nothing, we aver modestly, if not versatile, turned detective for the benefit of his own and the curiosity of the numerous traversers of Michigan avenue who may have wondered about the intriguing domed structure that has been going up atop the new building at the northeast corner of Michigan avenue and Superior street. We must admit that we were not overwhelmingly successful in our mystery solving efforts, but we did discover by dint of diligent research that the edifice, which is a bungalow with an astronomical observatory in connection with It, belongs to Homer C. Chapin, and that he and Mrs. Chapin are to occupy it as soon as it is ready for them.
Now, Mr. Chapin is of a retiring sort. He evidently prefers that his star gazing activities shall not be divulged, and from him we could learn nothing of his interest in the science of the skies. We don’t know, either, in case you are interested, whether the telescope is a 6 or 10 inch one, whether it is a refractor or a reflector, or even whether Mr. Chapin has hitherto been interested in the stars and planets. The building, which to be on the same order as the Fine Arts building. which also is under the Chapin estate management, housing shops and studios of an artistic character, will be completed in about a month. The Chapins have recently lived at 180 East Delaware place and don’t know when they will move into their lofty and unique dwelling.
If we are bringing to light some. thing which Mr. Chapin would prefer to remain shrouded obscurity, we must remind him that he could hardly expect to own such an interest arresting edifice almost in the heart of the city without causing comment and arousing people’s urge to know what it’s all about.
Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1930
Farther north on upper Boul Mich, in the 737 North Michigan avenue building, built and owned by the Charles Chapin estate, Samuel Zahler has leased the store at No. 737 for five years beginning April 1, and will open a luggage shop under the name of McMaster’s. Mr. Zahler sold out his shop at 4826 Sheridan road the first of the year. Albert H. Wetten & Co. negotiated yesterday’s lease.
Sterling Insurance Building
Chicago Tribune, June 24, 1974
Domed “oddity” is being torn down
One of Chicago’s most curiosity-provoking buildings is coming down. The 6-story retail and office structure at 737 N. Michigan Av.—topped by an astronomical observatory dome—is being razed to make way for a $70 million, twin-towered skyscraper.
Nobody seems to know who designed the rather handsome little building in the late 1920s, but records show that a man named Charles A. Chapin and his family initially occupied the penthouse suite.
One of the Chaplins was an astronomy buff, and the dome once sheltered a telescope. In more recent times, the dome covered air conditioning equipment.
Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1974
Michigan Av. mystery ends
A short-lived mystery has been solved. The architect who designed the curious but attractive little building at 737 N. Michigan Av. was the late Andrew N. Rebori.
J. R. D. Stevenson of Winnetka identified the architect after seeing in The Tribune of June 24 a photograph of the building being demolished. Stevenson, who managed the building in the 1940s, responded when he noted that efforts to identify the architect had failed.
The six-story retail and office structure frequently provoked curiosity because it was topped by an astronomy dome which once housed a telescope used by an amateur astronomer who lived there. The building is being razed to make way for a skyscraper complex.
Rebori died in 1966 at the age of 80. He won distinction for designing a number of office, apartment, college, and other buildings. Among his works is the memorial which covers the burial ground of Col. Robert R. McCormick, late editor and publisher of The Tribune, on Cantigny Farm near Wheaton.
Sterling Insurance Building
Ross & Browne Real estate Map