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A Last Look Inside the Historic Bush Temple of Music Before Its Big Makeover

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Photos by Nick Fochtman

The famous Bush Temple of Music on Chicago Avenue is about to join several other historic downtown buildings to receive new life. However, instead of being transformed into a hotel like the former London Guarantee Building, the Old Dearborn Bank Building, the Chicago Motor Club Building and the Chicago Athletic Association building, the Bush Temple will eventually house small apartments. Recently acquired by Cedar Street Companies, the Bush Temple will join the quickly growing inventory of the developer's FLATS branded apartment projects. While the exact unit count hasn't been yet determined, Cedar Street's Jay Michael anticipates that the number will be somewhere around 110 studio and one-bedroom apartments ranging from just under 300 square feet to about 400 square feet in size. Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) has been tapped to design the interior of the building while Heritage Bicycles has signed on to open a ground-floor cafe and bike shop.

Designed by J.E.O. Pridmore and completed in 1901, the French Renaissance Revival-style building was originally the headquarters of the Bush and Gerts Piano Company. After the piano factory and the Bush Conservatory of Music moved out, the building was transformed into office space. However, the historic building has mostly sat vacant for the last several decades. After walking through the building, it's clear that this once proud piano factory and showroom will need a lot of work. According to developer Jay Michael, HPA was tapped due to their extensive experience on adaptive reuse projects. HPA handled the Soho House renovation and recently worked on the restoration of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel and Chicago Motor Club Building.


[How the building looked in its earlier years. Photo via Chicago History in Postcards]

As the building has sat vacant and left to deteriorate over the years, it has served as time capsule of old office furniture and equipment from the past. The building is full of interesting relics, some of which may possibly find a place in the building's new coffee shop. When completed, the redeveloped Bush Temple will feature about 8,500 square feet of commercial space. Back in its heyday, the building featured a market in the basement with various venders. It's still unclear what the basement may be used for, but there's plenty of room to work with. And similar to other downtown apartment buildings, the new Bush Temple (which will be redubbed FLATS No. 800 when completed) will feature some premium amenities which include a rooftop deck, a gym, bike storage, public and private common spaces and keyless entry to individual units.

Restoring the building's exterior to its previous grandeur won't be a simple task, but because the building is a Chicago Landmark, it won't feature any parking. While it originally had an elaborate roofline with a clock tower, at this point the roof will be repaired but not reconstructed to look as it once did. The exterior facade restoration is expected to begin in the coming months, and Cedar Street is currently aiming for a late 2016 completion of the apartments and retail spaces. The renovation and buildout won't happen overnight but stay tuned as this iconic Chicago building receives its major makeover.


Into the Basement:

·Historic Bush Temple of Music Finds New Owner, May Become Apartments [Curbed Chicago]
·Historic Bush Temple to Be Transformed Into Micro Apartments [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous FLATS coverage [Curbed Chicago]

100 West Chicago Avenue Chicago IL