Monadnock Block

The Monadnock Block is one of Chicago’s architectural darlings. To the casual observer, this block may not seem revolutionary, but it’s a two-in-one time capsule of trailblazing construction techniques and evolving aesthetics. From the north it’s a tall, narrow building with thin windows, not much ornamentation, and a smooth flare at the top. From the south, it’s a tall, narrow building with larger windows, a bit of ornamentation, and a defined, angular cornice. The north building has a thick base, which should put it firmly in the antiquated load-bearing category. The south building, on the other hand, with its narrow piers and larger windows, seems to be built on the more advanced steel frame. Those two assumptions are partially correct, but this block is more complex than that. There’s a whole lot going on behind that purple-brown brick.

Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Completed: 1891 – 1893
Architects: Burnham & Root; Holabird & Roche
Address: 53 W. Jackson St.

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Sources for Monadnock Block

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.

  • Architecture Farm
  • City of Chicago Landmark Designation Report
  • Harry Weese and Associates, and United States. Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service. Four Landmark Buildings In Chicago’s Loop: a Study of Historic Conservation Options. [Washington]: The Service , 1978.
  • “The Monadnock.” The Inter Ocean, 27 Apr 1892
  • Monroe, Harriet, 1860-1936, Henry Van Brunt, and Charles Frederick William Mielatz. John Wellborn Root; a Study of His Life And Work. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1896.
  • National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
  • Shultz, Earle, and Walter Simmons. Offices In the Sky. [1st ed.] Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1959.
  • Withey, Henry F, and Elsie Rathburn Withey. Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (deceased). Los Angeles: New Age Pub. Co, 1956.