Studebaker Brothers’ Lake Front Carriage Repository (Fine Arts Building)

Late 19th century Chicago was a chorus of get things done. It was industrial. It was driven. It was determined. By the 1880s, Chicago had rebuilt from the devastation of the fire of 1871 and another in 1874 in spectacular fashion. The Studebaker Corporation, carriage makers from South Bend, Indiana, wanted to take full advantage of the excitement. Although they’d had a Chicago presence, it was time to ramp things up. That meant a big, beautiful building in plain sight of their potential customers. They bought a lot on Michigan Avenue and hired Solon Spencer Beman, the architect of Pullman’s company town, to make it happen. Beman came up with an eight-story showplace that featured four stories of showrooms topped with four stories for assembly. 

When it was completed, the Studebaker Brothers’ Lake Front Carriage Repository was a tour de force of rusticated stone, limestone piers, and granite columns. There was an absurd amount of glass because the company needed gigantic windows to show off its wares. While it wasn’t the original intention, that glass made the building especially suited for what it would become.

Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Completed: 1885
Architect: Solon Spencer Beman
Address: 410 S. Michigan Ave.

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Sources for Fine Arts Building

This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.

  • The Automotive Manufacturer: The University of Michigan, 1894
  • City of Chicago Landmark Designation Report
  • Ffrench, Florence. Music and Musicians in Chicago: F. Ffrench, 1899.
  • Leonard, John W. Woman’s Who’s Who of America: Columbia University, 1914.
  • Moore, Michelle E. Chicago and the Making of American Modernism: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
  • Stolte, Keith M. Chicago Artist Colonies: History Press, 2019.

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