Fine Arts Building (Chicago)

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Studebaker Building
Fine Arts Building - Chicago (51575569360).jpg
Fine Arts Building (Chicago) is located in Chicago Loop
Fine Arts Building (Chicago)
Location410–418 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°52′35.2″N 87°37′28.6″W / 41.876444°N 87.624611°W / 41.876444; -87.624611Coordinates: 41°52′35.2″N 87°37′28.6″W / 41.876444°N 87.624611°W / 41.876444; -87.624611
ArchitectSolon Beman
Architectural styleRomanesque
NRHP reference No.75000653
Significant dates
Added to NRHPAugust 11, 1975[1]
Designated CLJune 7, 1978

The ten-story Fine Arts Building, also known as the Studebaker Building, is located at 410 S Michigan Avenue across from Grant Park in Chicago in the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District. It was built for the Studebaker company in 1884–1885 by Solon Spencer Beman, and extensively remodeled in 1898, when Beman removed the building's eighth (then the top) story and added three new stories, extending the building to its current height.[2] Studebaker constructed the building as a carriage sales and service operation with manufacturing on upper floors. The two granite columns at the main entrance, 3 feet 8 inches (1.12 m) in diameter and 12 feet 10 inches (3.91 m) high, were said to be the largest polished monolithic shafts in the country.[3] The interior features Art Nouveau motifs and murals by artists such as Martha Susan Baker, Frederic Clay Bartlett, Oliver Dennett Grover, Frank Xavier Leyendecker, and Bertha Sophia Menzler-Peyton dating from the 1898 renovation. In the early 20th century, the Kalo Shop and Wilro Shop, firms owned by women and specializing in Arts and Crafts items, were established in the Fine Arts Building.[4]

Currently, true to its name, it houses artists' lofts, art galleries, theatre, dance and recording studios, interior and web design firms, musical instrument makers, and other businesses associated with the arts. It also holds offices of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, the Grant Park Conservancy, the World Federalist Association, and the Chicago Youth Symphony.[5] The Fine Arts Building was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 7, 1978.[6]

Studebaker Theater[edit]

Studebaker Theatre

The Fine Arts Building houses the Studebaker Theater, also known as Studebaker Hall, dedicated in 1898.[7] In 1917, the theater underwent its first major renovation under the direction of architect Andrew Rebori. The theater looks much the same today as it did following the 1917 renovation, however the original ceiling from 1898 remains.

The Studebaker was the site of David Bispham's 1901 recital exclusively featuring the songs of Carrie Jacobs-Bond.[8] Paul Whiteman and his orchestra gave the first public performance of the Grand Canyon Suite here on November 22, 1931. The venue also hosted some of the earliest live television shows including DuMont Television Network's Cavalcade of Stars hosted by comedian Jack Carter.

In the 1970s the theater was partitioned into a multiplex movie theater. Renovations to return to live theater were begun in 2015, and the theater was reopened in 2016, with a 740 seating capacity.[9] A larger multimillion-dollar renovation began in 2021, updating much of the Studebaker's technical capacities.[10] The theater reopened again in the spring of 2022 with the new musical Skates.[11]

The Studebaker Theater is also the home to NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me![12]

Chicago Little Theatre[edit]

From 1912 to 1917, the Fine Arts Building housed the Chicago Little Theatre, an art theater credited with beginning the Little Theatre Movement in the United States. Not being able to afford rental on the building's 500-seat auditorium, co-producers Maurice Browne and Ellen Van Volkenburg rented a large storage space on the fourth floor at the back and built it out into a 91-seat house.[13]



  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ Schulze, Franz & Harrington, Kevin (2003). Chicago's Famous Buildings (5th ed.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-74066-8.
  3. ^ See building No.3 on illustration Looking West from Michigan Boulevard
  4. ^ Bulletin of the Bureau of Labor 1904 p 1603.
  5. ^ "Fine Arts Building". Fine Arts Building. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  6. ^ "Fine Arts Building". City of Chicago. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  7. ^ Chris Jones, "Historic Studebaker gets another moment in the spotlight" in Chicago Tribune, 2008 August 11 (accessed 2009 August 19).
  8. ^ Library of Congress Jacobs-Bond site.
  9. ^ "About". Studebaker Theater. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  10. ^ Reid, Kerry (2021-08-13). "The Fine Arts theater team makes no little plans". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  11. ^ "'Skates' musical will finally debut at Studebaker Theater; 'Winnie the Pooh' musical arriving in March". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  12. ^ "'Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!' resumes live tapings in brand new Chicago location". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  13. ^ Browne, Maurice. Too Late to Lament: An Autobiography. London, Gollancz, 1955; p 120.

External links[edit]