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A tale of two buildings


The photo above shows the top floors of the Waterman Building at 127 S. State Street, right next door to the Palmer House Hilton. Designed by Holabird & Roche and built in 1920, the building originally housed the Chicago branch of the Waterman fountain pen company, with a luxurious street-level retail showroom and assembly/warehousing operations upstairs. The building is now considerably worn and showing its age, but still retains a sort of muscular elegance.


Meanwhile, this photo shows the Beef & Brandy Restaurant, also on State, which dates from the 1960s and is also showing its age. The ugly maroon awning, atrium-like front windows (which always remind me of a 1980s-vintage Wendy's) and pseudo-Colonial upper windows add little to the aesthetics of State Street, which itself has been aesthetically challenged for decades.

The strange thing is that both of these photos are of the same building. Here's the full view:


This might be the Loop's most comically incongruous building. Designslinger has much more about the building. As that site notes, the blank white area in the middle floors was once an enamel background for a two-story-high sign; for some reason when the sign was removed the enamel panels were left behind, and are still pockmarked by holes from the sign's former mountings. I'd love to see the latter-day embellishments of the bottom four floors totally stripped away, and the building restored to some semblance of its former luster. Perhaps for a high-end jeweler, condominiums or a boutique hotel. But I'm probably just dreaming.

August 21, 2013 in Chicago Observations, History | Permalink


That's an eye-popper! You should send it to the Eyesore of the Month guy. It's just his kind of thing.

Posted by: Paul Lamb at Aug 22, 2013 9:20:47 AM

I've never eaten at the restaurant. I'm sure it's just another diner, but based on the name and the era it dates from, I like to imagine them serving cheap, over-rare steaks and huge glasses of marginal red wine - something like Lancer's.

Posted by: Pete at Aug 23, 2013 10:40:24 AM

"marginal red wine"

Nicely put!

Posted by: Paul Lamb at Aug 23, 2013 10:23:09 PM

Calling Lancers "marginal" was probably generous on my part.

Posted by: Pete at Aug 26, 2013 11:26:05 AM