Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Chicago Telephone Building

In 1888, Silsbee designed a building for the Chicago Telephone Company.  Now demolished, it housed offices for the company, control and switch rooms, and telephone apparatus. Joseph Silsbee is not the first architect that comes to mind when you think of the design of Chicago office buildings.  He is more commonly discussed in relation to the homes he designed, particularly those that he did while Frank Lloyd Wright and George Maher were employed in his office. 

Stylistically, the building is a departure from the Gothic structures he designed about a decade earlier in Syracuse, NY but the quality of design and attention to detail are the same. It was a seven-story iron structure with interior decorative ironwork clad in brick and terra cotta.  The building had Romanesque and Queen Anne elements and a clarity of design that can easily be compared with the finest buildings designed at the same time by Sullivan, Root, and others. A drawing of the building appeared in the local building journal, the Building Budget, and was signed by Geo. W. Maher.

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