The Historic Legacy of the 888 South Michigan Building!

I was recently honored to take on a Listing in the classic 13 story building called 888 South Michigan.  It's a stunning full-floor penthouse with breathtaking views of the Chicago lakefront and Cultural Mile, a perfect backdrop for every decorating style.  The unit is beautifully spacious at approx. 6,000 Square Feet - here's the open layout Dining Room, Living Room, and Sitting Room, and another view looking out to the Museum Campus.  (Click here to see the full Listing, and click here to see a video of the interior - Video).  Besides being such an exquisite Listing, it easily qualifies for this Blog since it is historically and architecturally significant, both now and going all the way back to when it was built in 1913!

To get the full history of 888 South Michigan you need to go even earlier than 1913, all the way back to 1885.  In 1885, an American architect named William Lebaron Jenney built the very first skyscraper ever, called the Home Insurance Building, shown above.  He had gone to a progressive architecture school in Paris and had learned new techniques about building using iron bars and girders.  Jenney graduated in 1856, one year after his classmate, Gustave Eiffel, who also used Iron to build a structure you just might have heard of once or twice before.  Hint:  It’s a large Tower in Paris!

Jenney hired young architects named William Holabird and Martin Roche, and by 1881, with Jenney’s blessing, they formed a new firm called Holabird and Roche.  After Jenney built the first skyscraper in 1885, Holabird and Roche put up other notable buildings such as the Tacoma Building in 1889 and the Marquette Building in 1895, shown above.  The Marquette Building still stands, one of the last remaining examples of early Chicago skyscrapers.

So it was that after the turn of the Century, Holabird and Roche received the assignment to build a new headquarters for the Crane Company, America's largest maker of plumbing and fixture hardware.  The result was the classic Revival building now known as 888 South Michigan.  The building was converted to residential in 1960, then it was gutted and beautifully redeveloped in 2000.  It's the best of the 'old', namely a solid, elegantly designed structure, and the 'new', with its all new interior and open floorplan for modern living!  Here is a closeup photo where you can see the unique detailing that help make the building so architecturally significant.

The building has the distinction of being part of two different Historic Areas.  The first was being distinguished in 2002, when it was put on the National Register as part of the Historic Michigan Boulevard District, and again in 2014 when the area from the Chicago River to Roosevelt Road and on over to the Museum Campus was named the “Chicago Cultural Mile”.  In this striking night view you can see how 888 South Michigan takes it place alongside other renowned buildings in the Cultural Mile!

Here's Millennium Park and the Art Institute along the Cultural Mile, looking South towards 888 South Michigan.  I can’t emphasize enough how rare and valuable it would be to have a home in a classic residential building such as 888 South Michigan, where you are steps from world class Museums, the Formal Gardens of Grant Park, and the Auditorium Theatre, to name but a few famous landmarks.  There’s a special Dog Park and also one of the world’s largest skateboard parks just a quarter mile away!  The new highrises going up in the neighborhood make 888 South Michigan stand out even more – its elegance and unique “personality” will always have great appeal, along one of the grandest Avenues in the entire world!


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