The Lost Messages of Seahorses

Architects used to love to design buildings festooned with allegorical messages.  Because of an unusual coincidence of timing, technology, and the region’s clay deposits, Chicago is one of the great terra cotta cities.

But what message is this building trying to convey through the ages?  The medallion on the left is a sailing ship braving rough seas.  In the center is a pair of canoodling seahorses.  And on the right, a mighty oak tree.

In the 1870’s this was the James Stockton & Co. building — some kind of retail establishment.  Today it’s a McDonald’s, and its secrets sleep with the Filet o’ Fishes.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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