Friday, May 7, 2010

DANIEL BURNHAM's Silversmith Building. Designed by Peter Weber.

The 19th Century is quite close at the corner of Wabash and Madison. Under a dark corner of the El, dodge the pigeons and look up (at 10 South Wabash) for the deep green tile (Sullivanesque?) and restored red brick ornamented to Victorian complexity. A quick squint in morning light and the year is 1896. (Wabash Avenue is looking very good)

That tile and  brick building is The Silversmith designed by D. H. Burnham and Company's Peter J. Weber. Tile faces the first two stories with highly "manicured" brick above. This is a gorgeous little building. We'll talk about why, and why it is architecture, later. Today we enjoy.

Peter Weber joined Daniel Burnham in 1891 to assist Charles Atwood at the World's Fair. Educated in Berlin at the Charlottenburg Institute, Weber was right at home in Chicago's community of German and German immigrant architects. And he knew how to use brick. Clearly.

Weber also designed the Fisher Building Annex (so he knew a little something about terra cotta, too) and went on to design Highland Park's Ravinia. His life and work is  well documented. His son, also in the business, kept Peter's papers in order right up through 1945, when they were donated to the Art Institute of Chicago.





  1. Jewelers Row has some very beautiful buildings.. Of course Silversmith blg and Jewelers bldg,..
    And there are a few on which i could never find any information like J.P. Atwater blg and another bldg. on which it's written "The Shops -1912"..
    All beautiful.. The L, makes it difficult to see them... But the Wabash Street makes for a very interesting walk ..

    Walking through a few streets in the Loop have great feel to them.. S Dearborn street [wonderful!].. LaSalle canyon [great!] and then the Wabash Street [interesting!]

    Your posts always makes for a great read!!!

  2. I may have to break message and do a post just on Wabash -- renovations over the past few years have accumulated to the point where the whole Street looks...great.