Schiller Building, 64 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Cook County, IL
Significance: Designed by Adler and Sullivan in 1891-92, the Schiller Building was a unique solution to the problem of placing a large theater and office building on a mid-block site. The result was the first "skyscraper" designed on a set-back principle. The plan was roughly I-shaped: a central 17-story tower with flanking nine-story wings formed the Randolph Street elevation, while behind it, a narrower 14-story wing extended back to the alley. The theater was placed in the central, windowless portion of the structure, while the offices above and on the street side enjoyed ample natural light. The soaring central tower represents the highest skyscraper created by the firm. In addition, the theater is said to have been one of the finest in Chicago, offering a completely unobstructed view of the stage and excellent acoustics. In February, 1960, the Garrick, as it was known locally, was named a Chicago Architectural Landmark. In spite of this recognition, in May 1960, the building's owners began to make plans for its demolition and eventual replacement by a parking facility. There followed a lengthy court struggle between Balaban and Katz Corporation and the City of Chicago; however, public opinion and civic pride were unable to prevent the final razing which occurred in 1961. Through the efforts of many individuals and organizations, the Schiller Building was thoroughly photographed and a salvage project was undertaken to preserve most of the florid Sullivan ornamentation which embellished the interior and exterior surfaces. The ornament was later distributed to interested museums, colleges, and universities throughout the country.
Survey number: HABS IL-1058
Building/structure dates: 1948 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 1961 Demolished
Building/structure dates: 1891- 1892 Initial Construction