Building 51 | Building 51 | c. 1892-93 chicago athletic association building polychrome stenciled fragment with allover crazed finish – healy & millet, interior decorators, chicago, il.
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c. 1892-93 chicago athletic association building polychrome stenciled fragment with allover crazed finish – healy & millet, interior decorators, chicago, il.



Chicago Buildings

About This Item

historically important original and very early stenciled canvas fragment featuring the encircled logo of the chicago athletic club association. the polychrome enameled fragment was designed and executed by notable interior designers, healy & millet of chicago (they are perhaps mostly known for their stenciled work done in the chicago stock exchange trading room). the delicate fragment has been lightly cleaned and framed in quartered oak wood recycled from the athletic club. the stenciled section features the brightly colored red logo flanked by interlocking branches and leaves of the bat laurel. the surrounding art nouveau style stencil contains a mostly uniform brown color. heavy surface crazing and discoloration evident. the fragment was found in the basement of the chicago athletic club. the exact location of this type of wall covering (there were several) in the chicago athletic association building is currently not known. the chicago athletic association was founded in 1890 by several elite chicagoans (e.g., marshall field, cyrus mccormick and a.g. spalding) as a non-profit organization that provided a setting for athletic, business and social activites. in 1891, the chicago athletic association announced it would build a “new gymnasium” on michigan avenue. in 1893 the building designed by architect henry ives cobb was completed. the facade is considered one of the finest examples of venetian gothic revival in the united states. the architect, who was also a member, designed several other notable buildings, including, but not limited to, the chicago historical society, newberry library and several pre-1900 buildings at the university of chicago campus. the building’s principal facade, which of patterned brick and intricately carved indiana limestone, was based on the doges palace in venice. the distinctive exterior along michigan avenue gave the chicago athletic association a distinctive identity when viewed from the lakefront, particularly by visitors to the world’s columbian exposition of 1893. the entrance and main lobby, designed by healy & millet, are heavily adorned with visually striking marble, mosaic and stained glass ornament. a reception room and writing lobby were hidden behind luxurious portieres. a broad stairway with a graceful curve, leads along a side-wall consisting of monolithic slabs of marble, transcending a ceiling of pure white stucco, divided into panel formations. the second floor presents, first, a lounging or reading room, finished in gothic style quartered oak extravagantly carved, which made for a graceful transition from the marble lobby to the mahogany-trimmed billiard room. the lounging room contains massive wood burning fireplaces with exceptional bas-relief carved oak wood panels depicting scrimmage in football. the oak columns with fretwork support heavy ceiling rows (and cross-rows) once profusely strewn with incandescent light bulbs. the adjoining billiard room contained nineteen tables and a cafe annex where members were served lunch. the third floor contained a library containing soft furnishings, luxurious divans and chairs, paintings, rugs and draperies. it was here that, on “ladies’ days”, the women could find rest and solace. the immense dining room is located on the eighth floor. the main room covers approximately 6400 square feet. the room is finished in quartered oak and contains three bas-relief carvings, decorating the massive mantels. the overhanging stucco ceiling (mostly destroyed) contained an unusual “drooping tip” profile with gothic motifs. two of the floors were devoted to lodging departments, comprising about sixty rooms. the ninth floor contained racquet, tennis, and squash courts, which, with the lounging and ante-rooms and lockers, occupied the entire floor. there were two racquet courts, one tennis court, one squash court, and one handball court, all of regulation size.the main floor of the club contains the “natatorium,” which was considered the pride of the club. the swimming or “plunge” room is finished in white marble, with an elegant neoclassical style stairway and balcony surrounding the pool. the swimming pool or “tank” is forty feet wide by sixty feet long, and the depth graduates from eight to four feet. the room was equipped with spring boards, high dives, traveling rings, etc. the adjacent turkish bath was equipped with steam, shampoo and rubbing rooms, and numerous showers. reference only.