Two of a kind: Stripped Classicism in the Gold Coast
A movie buff knows if you focus solely on stars, you’ll miss stellar performances by other actors. Recent walks with my puppy, Huey, on the star-studded Gold Coast have shown me two unheralded apartment towers—the neighborhood’s supporting actors.
by Burt Michaels, CAC education guide and CAC docent, class of 2019
Located at 1530 N. State and 1325 N. Astor, they’re a style rarely associated with upscale residences: “stripped classicism.” It’s sort of a bridge between Classicism and Modernism, with a touch of Art Deco.
Just south of the Beaux-Arts extravaganza at 1550 N. State Parkway and across from the Archdiocese of Chicago’s “19 chimneys” mansion, the understated entry to 1530 N. State whispers “elegance.” A flattened, black-granite, classical pediment caps a bronze-framed, gently arched glass door outlined by white limestone. Atop a three-story, deeply profiled limestone base, arched windows and pediments echo the entry’s motif.
Designed by Granger and Bollenbacher—better known for the Romanesque 1930 Chicago Club building on Michigan Avenue—1530 rises another dozen stories of red brick with vertical limestone trim before bursting into a rooftop of chateauesque penthouses that look downright heavenly when seen from the now-shuttered lakefront trail.
The jarring asymmetry of the vertical trim and of the penthouses’ windows and roofs, and the off-centering of the entryway, suggest the northernmost bay and penthouses were additions, or afterthoughts; indeed, 1530 was deemed “too altered” for landmarking.
Also unnoticed among fabulous Deco, Romanesque and Modernist superstars, 1325 N. Astor, completed in 1928, was designed by Andrew Rebori—better known for the landmark Fisher Studio Houses one block west.
1325 welcomes the well-heeled with a semicircular marquee topped with small classical ornamentation and a deeply recessed door. It too has a limestone base. Its red-brick shaft with limestone trim similarly boasts classical pediments topping windows. Huge finials adorn the corners of its roofline before it also erupts into a fanfare of added-on penthouses—though these are strictly Neoclassical, complete with balustrades and more finials.
Again, quirky asymmetry: the south end’s two-window pattern versus the north’s single bay of oversized windows with Juliet balconies, and a slanted limestone corner. 1325 is also deemed “too altered” for landmarking. Huey, alas, has developed a fondness for that slanted corner—another indignity inflicted on a fine supporting actor.