Sherman House - First in jazz?

Chicago's got some cool hotels, and Chicago had some cool hotels. This ad from the March 1969 issue of Esquire is for The Sherman House, apparently remodeling at the time. If the Sherman House was advertising in Esquire, it was either very groovy and hep, or desperately wanted to be perceived as such. So where was it, and where'd it go?

The address is strange. Three streets and no numbers. What gives? No, wait a second. That means the place occupied an entire city block, right in the middle of downtown. Jeez, that's big.

Randolph, Clark and LaSalle puts The Sherman House either on the site of city hall (not bloody likely), or right across the street from it, which is now the Thompson Center, also known as The State of Illinois Building! It's kind of famous, having been featured in a couple of movies, like Running Scared (1986). But the Thompson center was built in 1985. When was The Sherman House demolished?

Turns out WTTW has a nice page on The Sherman House, and it says the place was flattened in 1973. Yikes. Sounds like the 1969 remodel didn't really revive business.

Here's a picture of what seems to be the 1969 remodel (picture found at Forgotten Chicago). Very groovy! I approve.

But what happened between the demolition in '73 and the construction of The Thompson Center in '85? Forgotten Chicago has it:

After sitting vacant for the remainder of the decade, the Sherman House, along with this entire block, was demolished in the 1980s for the State of Illinois Center (now James R. Thompson Center), which opened in 1985.
Oof. Downtown Chicago is really nice, currently, but certain grandparents will tell you there were dark days for the downtown area, with vacant buildings and not-so-great places to see - or, if you were thinking more clearly - avoid, in The Seventies. It sounds like the Sherman House was one of those places contributing to the overall shabbiness of the downtown area. And it was right across from City Hall. Imagine a major city with a derelict hotel across the street. Great.

So, in 1985 they built the Thompson Center. Good deal. Here's what it looks like now:


That radiused glass corner of the building you're looking at? That's a ten-story glass atrium. From inside it's fairly amazing. If you're coming to Chicago, you might make an excuse to pop in and see it.

It seems I've been there, taking artsy pictures...

Here's a less artsy-fartsy and more descriptive picture of the atrium:

There's a link on the WTTW page for The Sherman House with a short video about The Sherman House. Apparently, The Sherman House was one of the first places in Chicago that a lot of people heard jazz music, was back in the early 1900's. Cab Calloway, Gene Krupa and Tommy Dorsey played there. It was also originally founded by the son of the Civil War General Sherman. Whoa. Their embeddable video code seems incompatible with Blogger, so you'll have to go look for yourself to see the clip.

But here's a clip from the climactic shootout scene in Running Scared, which was shot in the State of Illinois Building's atrium...

Anyway, The Sherman House still has something to offer to the ages: clip art! Here are the semi-concussed-Cheryl-Tiegs-looking lady and romantic couple images from this ad, all dressed up for you in their alpha channel backgrounds, ready to be used on your party invitations or divorce settlement documents. You're welcome!


Charlie said...

Looks like Anne Meara to me. Running around on hubby Jerry Stiller? Maybe it's that kind of shenanigans that brought the place down.

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