Home to one of the city’s prime landmark districts, scenic parks, and nightlife hotbeds, the rich history of Old Town opens its doors to a plethora of artistic architectural statements and easter eggs. Immerse yourself in all of the history and art the city has to offer.
Here are our top five favorite landmarks you won’t want to miss.
Elks National Memorial And Headquarters
Architect: Egerton Swartwout | 1926
Rising 94 feet from the ground, this hidden-gem feels like you’re stepping out of Chicago and into the Louvre. Nestled in a domed rotunda, life-size bronze statues take the form of Elk WWI veterans, while incredibly textured ceilings and murals will keep your eyes exploring from one room to the next. If you want to feel like you’re not in Chicago anymore, while commemorating veterans with an unparalleled taste of European architecture, look no further than this architectural mecca.
• Life-size bronze statues of WWI veterans
• Walls and ceilings adorned with murals from the likes of Eugene Savageradiant
• Gold and aluminum leaf, and beautiful English and American White Oak that illuminate the space
• Get a rare look at colored marble from all over Europe
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Architects: Joseph Lyman Silsbee & Mifflin E. Bell | 1895
Designed at the hands of architects Joseph Lyman Silsbee and Mifflin E. Bell, this Victorian styled steel and glass structure is worth seeing up-close. Built over a greenhouse, this conservatory features stunning gardens that make for the perfect afternoon getaway. Housing over 40,000 plants, many sections have remained structurally untouched over the past 100 years, like the Fern and Orchid rooms.
- Series of Victorian-styled rooms
- Walk through elegant trusses and grand ogee arches
- Over 40,000 plants representing hundreds of species
The Carl Street Studios
Architects: Edgar Miller & Sol Kogen | 1927
What started as a large home purchase, this Old Victorian mansion was quickly renovated/revamped by Kogen and Miller into an artist colony, creating one of Chicago’s most famous art communities that housed scores of incoming artists in Old Town. With art pieces built into the individual bricks, dramatic duplex interiors, and avant-garde mosaics and murals, this creative enclave is a definite must-see – there’s nothing quite like it. The space recreates a whole new vintage look at English architecture that stands out in the modern era.
From the collaboration of Edgar Miller, Sol Kogen, Jesus Torres.
- Towering stained glass windows
- Bespoke tile work, carved doors, and parquet flooring
- Avant-garde mosaics and murals
Architect: Enock Hill Turnock | 1893
Rumored to house the likes of Al Capone and Charlie Chaplin, today the high-rise retains its gorgeous historic charm and smart design as condos. Inspired by the Pantheon of Rome temple, the neoclassical style marks it as a staple of Chicago’s most lavish old architecture.Guests can operate the original cage elevator, which goes up to the atrium. While this and the rough stone exterior add to the building’s lavish charm, its history comes with some interesting easter eggs. In addition to being the filming site for the 1998 horror “Child’s Play”, some guests have reported spotted hauntings, repeatedly on the ninth floor where a supervisor fell during the building’s construction.
- Neoclassical architecture resembling the Pantheon Rome temple
- Original, manually-operated caged elevator
- Landing areas feature narrow glass block catwalks
Schmidt Metzgerei Building
Architect: Unknown | 1893
Another time machine in Old Town – this time to the era of Chicago’s German settlers.
Come explore the Chicago feel from the 1890s: this original/onetime german butcher shop retains the architecture of the building style from Chicago’s german history, still standing after 120 years! The building was last used as a law firm, and sits in a charming nook at N. Hudson and W. Menomonee. You won’t find buildings like this anywhere else in the city- so check out the cool exterior’s vintage feel, and explore the surrounding neighborhood pocket in this unique piece/treasure of Old Town.
- 1890s architecture from the German settlers
- Site of original Schmidt’s Butcher Shop, still stenciled in window
- Less than two blocks from St. Michael’s Church
Like what you see? Want to explore more of Old Town? If you’re in the market for a new apartment or condo see the link below to uncover more of this neighborhood!
Photography by: (Top to Bottom) Inst: @ashlandt, Inst: @radeline17, Inst: @snelle, [Inst: @codunn, @missym1970], Wikimedia Commons