Ghosts, Fake Butter, and Digging the Boring Construction at One Bennett Park

Construction on One Bennett Park (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

Construction on One Bennett Park (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

It’s all work work work work work at 451 East Grand Avenue, the future home of One Bennett Park, the 69-story condos-over-apartments snack pack by Robert A.M. Stern   Related Midwest.

Dozers are digging, and caisson crews are boring into the supple lakeside loam that characterizes this corner of Streeterville.  You can see the busy beavers in the photos above and below from Joe Zekas over at YoChicago!.   But what will they find deep down in the earth?

Construction on One Bennett Park (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

Construction on One Bennett Park (Courtesy of Joe Zekas/YoChicago!)

Perhaps ghosts?  This was the location of Chicago Police Headquarters before it moved down to 11th Street and then to 35th Street just after the turn of the century.  The art moderne police building was demolished in 2003, leaving the ghosts nothing to haunt.  But any spirit hunter worthy of a basic cable television show will tell you that jails are prime territory for the paranormal.  It must be true since towns from tiny Lockhart, Texas (population: 12,000) to San Francisco (population: many more) have turned their haunted lockups into tourist attractions.

What else might be down there?  Maybe fake butter.  Before the previously mentioned building on North Peshtigo Court (one of Chicago’s shortest streets) was the Chicago Police Headquarters, it was the headquarters and laboratories of the company we now know as Kraft.

Back then it was called Kraft-Phenix (two misspellings in one!) and this is where it cooked up the frankenfoods that built America, including everyone’s favorite talking plastic container: Parkay margarine.  Who knows how many tries the K-P scienticians took to come up with the exact right formula for combining soybean oil and potatoes to make a foodstuff that is almost, but not entirely, unlike butter, yet good enough to get both Todd Bridges and Al Franken to endorse it?

Who knows, there could be some kind of oleo-monster deep down under all that dirt.  It wouldn’t be the first company that decided to just dump its science experiments into the Streeterville soil (“cough” Lindsay Light Company *cough*) and walk away whistling.

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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