As luck would have it, after years of wondering what it looked like upstairs in the Rookery, I got two behind-the-scenes visits in the last month (one with Open House Chicago and one with the National Trust for Historic Preservation). So now I am here to share with you: what is really up the stairs and behind the doors at the Rookery? A lot, it turns out. So much that I’m breaking this up into two blog posts (a first!). Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Today: my favorite views, with a little background in case you’re unfamiliar with the building. Its interior is tied to four of Chicago’s best-known architects, so it is no mistake that this is one of the most beautiful interiors you’ll see in Chicago.
First, a quick background. For those unfamiliar, the Rookery was constructed by Burnham & Root (of the Columbian Exposition fame) in 1888. Its intersection with well-known architects doesn’t end there. It was renovated in 1905-1907 by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright and again in 1931 by William Drummond, an early employee of Frank Lloyd Wright and well-known architect in his own right. In 1992 the building was almost entirely restored to its 1907 appearance (post-Frank Lloyd Wright). Many of the changes made by Drummond have since been removed, including a lower addition to the famous spiral staircase.
Today you can visit the Rookery and see the stunning lobby by yourself or as part of a tour (the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust and Chicago Architecture Foundation offer these). When I walk by the Rookery, it is hard not to step inside for a moment to stare up at the intricate ceiling and curving stairs.
Check back next week–I’ll be going into a little more detail and sharing some of my favorite elements of the Rookery! Have a great week.
Sources and Further Reading:
For the Rookery, itself, a building history.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation on the Rookery.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust also has an article about the Rookery.