Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Glimpse of Somerset's Gilded Past

Seeing it now, it's hard to believe that the Somerset, at Argyle and Sheridan, was once one of the most beautiful buildings in Uptown.  When it was built in 1920, Jazz Age Chicago says
It was designed by owner-architect Samuel N. Crowen and contained a total of 441 fully-furnished rooms arranged in 205 suites of one to four rooms each. One-room suites contained a living room, dressing room, and bath without dining facilities, while larger apartments included a sun parlor, separate bedroom, and dining room with kitchenette. All rooms were completely and luxuriously furnished. Opening-year advertisements promoted the hotel as both an "exclusive summer resort" and a year-round residential hotel. One described the hotel as "the ideal dwelling place for those desiring the homelike atmosphere and privacy of an apartment combined with all the modern conveniences of a hotel."
The magnificent terra cotta entrance way (shown here -- it's worth clicking, trust me) disappeared somewhere over time. 

The horrible mismatched-brick refacing in 2009 stripped any character that was left in the building, even blocking the remnants of the once-beautiful windows.  The saddest part is, it was all for nothing:  the facility got into trouble with the Feds and was closed for good in 2010.

With the recent work going on that is returning it to its original use as an apartment building, a reader discovered that one of the windows of the original building has been revealed once more.  A century ago, this was new construction in Uptown.  

We are lucky to have so many buildings that give us a glimpse of that era, thanks to preservationists and developers with deep pockets.  The Uptown Broadway Building, the former Borders, Bridgeview Bank, and the Bank of America building at Lawrence and Sheridan have been restored to much of their former glory.  As for the Somerset, enjoy what has been revealed.  It's like a peek through the keyhole at what used to be there.


  1. Carmen Winona Block Club posted this about the remodel in 2012...

  2. Here's the website for the new apartements. Looks good.

  3. The exterior of both Sheridan and Argyle will be restored to its original façade look. please check or follow updates thru our facebook page