About This Item
original early 20th century strongly geometric prairie school style refinished cast iron staircase baluster salvaged from the non-extant “main building” located at the center of the michael reese hospital campus (chicago, il). the baluster exhibits a very sleek and simple design. brushed metal finish treated with a clear coat lacquer. others available. possibly fabricated by the winslow brothers of chicago, il. the building’s ornament was designed by hugh garden, who was greatly influenced by the work of his chicago style contemporaries, wright and sullivan. the south side chicago michael reese hospital was erected on the ground of the former hospital constructed in 1880. the hospital was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on june 16th, 1907. built at a cost of nearly a million dollars, the hospital was considered the most modern and best equipped in the city during time of construction. the building itself was six stories in height, constructed of solid masonry, steel and tile, with the most approved “system of heating, lighting and ventilation.” the interior originally accommodated 240 beds, included sixty private rooms. there were three operating rooms , along with special provisions for isolating patients in the surgical, medical gynecological and maternity departments. the hospital was designed by the architectural firm of schmidt and garden and martin. although known primarily for their commercial and industrial designs, the firm also designed several residential buildings, more than 300 hospitals and a few public structures. richard ernest schmidt studied architecture at the massachusetts institute of technology and worked for a number of architects (adolph cudell and charles sumner frost) before starting his own practice in 1887. eight years later, he asked hugh gorden garden to join him as chief of design. a native of toronto, canada, garden had moved to chicago in the late-1880′s, apprenticing with several architectural firms, including flanders & zimmerman, henry ives cobb, and shepley, rutan & coolidge. he then became a freelance renderer, which brought him jobs with howard van doren shaw, louis sullivan, and frank lloyd wright. in 1906, the schmidt-garden partnership was formalized under the name of richard e. schmidt, garden & martin. the third partner was edgar d. martin, who later joined the firm of pond & pond. schmidt brought business acumen and social connections to the partnership, while garden brought the imagination, inventiveness, and sensitivity of a creative designer and versatile draftsman. martin was an extremely skilled structural engineer who was able to solve technical problems associated with large industrial buildings and modern materials, such as the montgomery ward & co. catalog house, one of the first buildings to be constructed of reinforced concrete. garden helped evolve the firm’s progressive approach to design, much in the way that his contemporaries, sullivan and wright, had done. the style and details of garden’s architectural designs were so unique and distinctive that they often are referred to with the term “gardenesque.” measures approximately 6 3/4 x 1 x 40 inches.