Leland Tower

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Leland Tower
Leland Tower-1.JPG
Location Aurora, Illinois, USA
Coordinates 41°45′29″N 88°18′55″W / 41.75806°N 88.31528°W / 41.75806; -88.31528Coordinates: 41°45′29″N 88°18′55″W / 41.75806°N 88.31528°W / 41.75806; -88.31528
Built 1928
Part of Stolp Island Historic District (#86001487)
Added to NRHP September 10, 1986

Leland Tower is a twenty-two story tall building located on Stolp Island in Aurora, Illinois. Leland Tower was at one point the tallest building in Illinois outside of Chicago. Stolp Island is recognized as a Historical District by the National Register of Historical Places.

Leland Tower was at one time the tallest building in Illinois outside of Chicago, and dominates the downtown of Aurora, dwarfing all the other buildings located there. The tower was built initially as a hotel. The Leland Hotel project was conceived in 1926 and was one of the most ambitious projects in the city's history. The project was announced by an organization known as the Aurora Building Corporation through Herbert P. Heiss of the First Illinois Company. Mr. Heiss had located and purchased the site for the proposed hotel. The building contract was awarded to the H.G. Chtistman Company, general contractors of South Bend, Indiana and Detroit, Michigan. Anker Sveere Graven and Arthur Guy Mayger were chosen to design the hotel which was planned to be one of the grandest buildings outside of Chicago.

As a hotel the Aurora-Leland had all the modern amenities of the times—including telephones in every room. Topping this sky scraper was the Sky Club, a dinner and dancing club outfitted with elaborate decor and furnishings of the highest quality. The views from the Sky Club as well as its elegance made it a place to see and be seen by the local socialites. "Swanks" from Chicago thought the Sky Club a fun place to take their dates. Philip K. Wrigley, fan dancer Sally Rand, and the singing cowboy Gene Autry are some of the famous names seen there. Recordings were made there by such famous blues musicians as John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson.

In the 1960s, the times and the economy caused the hotel once known by the names "The Aurora-Leland Hotel", the "Illinois Hotel" and the "Leland Hotel" to stop operations. The tower subsequently housed microwave transmitter link of defunct WLXT-TV Channel 60, an Aurora TV station which signed on in 1969. It was on the air afternoons, evenings and weekends. It also served as the transmitter site of 107.9 WAUR-FM.

The tower is also known, however, for being a popular spot for committing suicide. Many have taken their own life by jumping off the 22 story tower into the river below. Because of this, many consider the building to be haunted. Those who live inside the now apartment complex claim that they often hear moans in the elevator and smell foul odors throughout the building.

Leland Tower is also known locally for its elaborate holiday decorations including an 8-story tall shooting star and Christmas tree on the roof.



The Aurora Beacon News, February 7, 1928 The Aurora Beacon News, August 23, 1984