About This Item
unrestored 19th century historically-important exterior buff-colored terra cotta fragment salvaged from the non-extant chicago stock exchange building demolished in 1972. the jagged fragment has darkened considerably over time from prolonged exposure to air pollutants (e.g., coal ash, etc.). the rear cavities or “webbing” have been removed to lessen the weight and make the louis h. sullivan-designed fragment more displayable. the terra cotta panel fragment was originally apart of the east facade above the main entrance to the building. fabricated by the northwestern terra cotta company, chicago, il. between 1881 and 1895 louis henry sullivan and engineer dankmar adler designed a series of office towers, including the chicago stock exchange building (extant from 1894 to 1972), their largest building and perhaps most important commission. noteworthy for the firm’s inspired solution to the newly arisen issue of an appropriate form for the “tall building,” it was replete with some of louis sullivan’s finest organic ornamental detailing. built on the site of the first brick building in chicago (1837), the 13 story steel frame chicago stock exchange building was constructed by the general contracting firm of falkenau & company. the building was completed in 1894 at a total cost of $1,131,555.16. the stock exchange contained 13 stories with the single basement containing both pile and caisson foundations (the latter were used don the west party wall). the building contained 480 offices. the stock exchange was the second largest commission awarded to sullivan and adler (the largest being the auditorium hotel and theater). the building’s exterior was outfitted with ornamental buff-colored terra cotta designed by sullivan and fabricated by the northwestern terra cotta company. the structural system consisted of fireproofed steel framing. the first floor was treated on the exterior as basement, with the second and third floors as an arcade, bay windows extended from the fourth through the twelfth floor and the thirteenth contained a colonnaded ribbon of windows topped by a projecting cornice with a richly worked surface. the interior contained shops on the ground floor with offices on the upper floors of the main block and wings. the elevators were located at the center of the building. the trading room occupied one-half of the second and third floors. the two sets of stairways were found on floors 4-13 (north and south side of the building). the highly stylized staircase was comprised of copper-plated ornamental iron, oak railings and white marble treads. between floors, each staircase consisted of two flights ascending in opposite directions, linked by a rectangular landing (a staircase was first removed from the building and installed in the metropolitan museums american wing). when the stock exchange moved in 1908, the trading room was converted into office space and later bank. during the course of demolition in 1972, photographer and activist richard nickel was working to salvage ornament the building when the unstable structure collapsed and he was tragically killed. as a tribute to nickel from and sullivan, sections of the trading room stencils, molded pilaster capitals, and art glass were preserved and in 1977 the art institute created a complete reconstruction of this significant room in a new wing of the museum. at the same time, the monumental entry arch of the stock exchange was erected on the museum grounds near the corner of monroe street and columbus drive.