It’s been quite a coming out party for the stately Loop building formerly known as the Chicago Athletic Association. Just a few years ago, the Venetian Gothic building at 12 S. Michigan Avenue was on Landmark Illinois’ “Most Endangered Historic Places” List.
Now, thanks to a massive rehab effort, the structure has been reborn as a swanky boutique hotel. The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel was one of the standout locations during this year’s Open House Chicago presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
The building was designed by Henry Ives Cobb and built in 1893, during the development spurt in Chicago that coincided with planning for the Columbian Exposition. The Chicago Athletic Association was formed by prominent families with familiar names like Wrigley, Comiskey and Spalding.
It wasn’t the first athletic club in town, but it sought to be the best. It opened as a premier men’s only club. Women were forbidden from entering except on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. That rule was not lifted until 1972.
The club closed in 2007 and it might very well have fallen victim to a wrecking ball, if it were not for AJ Capital Partners, Geolo Capital, Agman Partners and Commune Hotels & Resorts.
Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture and design firm Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors gave the building a facelift and brought it back to its glory days. The hotel has 241 rooms and suites with design elements like Cararra marble baths.
One step in the White City Ballroom, and you’ll be transported back decades in the presence of oak bas relief, a huge 19th century fireplace and excellent views of Millennium Park.