Artists Create Oil Paintings And Sculptures Inside Palette & Chisel Academy

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From the outside, the ornate Italianate mansion at 1012 North Dearborn Street looks like s stately private residence. In fact, the building was originally just that. It was built in 1874 for the William Waller family. They built the home in one of the neighborhoods destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The Waller house was one of the first to be rebuilt in the area. By the early 1900s, the building had become a rooming house for all manner of workers: nurses, a grocery clerk, an accountant, a soda jerk and a musician.

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Then, in 1921 the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts acquired the home. And that’s what it’s been ever since. It was open for tours during the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 2015 Open House Chicago weekend.

The Palette & Chisel Academy originated in 1895 when a several art students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago created a club. They mostly wanted to paint and sculpt figures under natural light. And that’s exactly what the former Waller home offers—perfect light flowing in the large windows.

Novices and professionals alike now paint and sculpt at the Palette & Chisel Academy.

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at

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