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A marble-clad hall with lantern chandeliers, gold elevators, and detailed floors.
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The most interesting historic interiors in Chicago

There’s beauty everywhere: Theaters, fieldhouses, apartments, lobbies and libraries

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Chicago’s innovative skyscrapers, Prairie School style homes, and Miesian Modern buildings are stunning. But what about our historic interiors? It’s hard not to wonder what’s on the inside of the next steel-framed or terra cotta-clad building you see. There are lobbies, atriums, libraries, and theaters that are truly dazzling once you step inside.

We all know and love the old favorites like the Tiffany-glass dome at the Chicago Cultural Center or the handsome Palmer House Hotel lobby. So, here are a few more historic landmarks that might fly under the radar.

We’ll continue to add to this list of beautiful and interesting interiors in Chicago—by no means is this an exhaustive list. So go ahead, share your favorite interiors in the comment section.

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1. The Brewster Building

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2800 N Pine Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

Originally known as the Lincoln Park Palace, the heavy and rough exterior houses a particularly light and airy interior. Inside the apartment building there are cast-iron stairs and elevator cages, bridge walkways paved with glass blocks, and a massive skylight at the top.

2. Elks National Memorial

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2750 N Lakeview Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

The Elks National Memorial was deemed a landmark in 1926 for its classical Beaux Arts style. The Elks are a social organization that originated in New York and this particular memorial pays tribute to the members who fought in World War I (and now, other American veterans as well). The interior features a Roman-inspired dome, grand ornamentation, ornate sculptures and allegorical murals.

3. Reebie Storage Warehouse

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2325 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

It’s hard to miss the creative terracotta exterior depicting ancient Egyptian imagery and hieroglyphics—its one of the country’s best examples of Egyptian Revival commercial architecture. Originally, it was built by the Reebie Storage and Moving Company but now it houses an antique shop. On the inside you’ll see art glass windows, decorative metalwork, lotus-leaf column capitals, and plaster reliefs depicting ancient Egyptians.

4. Chicago Theater

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175 N State St
Chicago, IL 60601
(844) 848-1296
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This theater was one of the earliest designed by the movie house experts C.W. Rapp and George L. Rapp. The architects gave every aspect of the theaters they designed consideration from the moment a visitor would walk inside until they sat down. While the exterior marquee is quite memorable, it’s interior is a marvel as well. The Neo Baroque and French Revival style is spectacular—after all it was inspired by the royal chapel at Versaille and featured actual Louis XIV furnishings, according to the Chicago Architecture Center.

5. James R. Thompson Center

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100 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 814-6676
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This controversial interior deserves a spot on this list, at the very least, for its postmodern architecture. Despite what you think of the building, it’s wiry atrium with light blue and pale red is one-of-a-kind especially for state government offices. It was designed by Helmut Jahn and opened in 1985.

6. The Delaware Building

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150 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60601

The Delaware building is one of the Loop structures from the massive rebuilding that followed the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The Italianate-style building isn’t as flashy as the nearby downtown theaters but it’s not to be missed. Step inside to find a dramatic steel-framed, geometric atrium with long strands of hanging plants.

7. City Hall

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121 N LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60602

The city’s municipal buildings run the gamut in style from the postmodern Thompson Center to the sleek International Style of the Daley Center. However, City Hall which houses the mayor’s office and other chambers is a bit more classic. There are dramatic archways, lantern chandeliers, and gold elevator banks. It’s a chic backdrop for couples getting hitched, but really the smooth, cavernous halls are a pleasant place to for stroll.

8. Garfield Park Gold Dome Field House

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100 N Central Park Ave
Chicago, IL 60624

A prime example of how some of the best architecture exists in the city’s parks. The fieldhouse, a gold domed building, was the headquarters for the West Park Commision (the agency before the Chicago Park District). The impressive building features a Spanish Baroque Revival style with twisted columns portrait busts, swirling ornamentation, colorful terrazzo floors, marble-clad walls, and sculptural panels.

9. Palmer House Hotel

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17 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 726-7500

Now a Hilton, the hotel developed by Chicago businessman Potter Palmer has a truly stunning lobby. The Classical Revival style building with French Neoclassical ornamentation was designed by Holabird & Roche—in short, its elaborate. The interior is massive with towering columns, candelabras, marble busts, gold stenciling, and detailed mosaics.

10. Field Building

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Field Building, 135 S LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60604

Want to take a peek at Chicago’s Art Deco? This two-story lobby in the Field Building is quite distinctive. The joy is in the details: address numerals, lobby clocks, and the chrome bridge. The high-rise was built by the famous Marshall Field and it was the last major office completed before a two-decade construction hiatus during the Great Depression and World War II.

11. Rookery Building

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209 S LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 553-6100
Visit Website

On the exterior, the brick-red exterior is heavy and chunky. What’s inside? A light-filled, airy lobby with delicate details. John Root was the original architect here, but Frank Lloyd Wright remodeled the Rookery’s skylit lobby in 1905. During this change, Wright brought in elements of his Prairie School designs such as strong horizontal lines and geometric shapes.

12. The Old Post Office

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433 W Van Buren St
Chicago, IL 60607

Until recently, the Chicago’s Old Main Post Office had been closed since 1996. It’s massive renovation and redevelopment have allowed its Art Deco lobby to shine once again. One of the most impressive spaces (also featured in The Dark Knight) is the building’s cavernous, marble-clad lobby. It was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White in 1921.

13. Fine Arts Building

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410 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 566-9800
Visit Website

The Fine Arts Building was originally made for the assembly and display of carriages and wagons, but soon was converted into studios and theaters for artists in 1898. What’s remarkable is that the public spaces, including the murals on the 10th floor, have essentially remained the same since the remodel. The best time to visit is during Second Fridays when the building full of painters, instrument makers, and dance instructors open up their studios to share with the public.

14. Auditorium Theatre

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50 East Ida B. Wells Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 341-2300
Visit Website

This theater, designed by Adler and Sullivan, is an immense architectural achievement. The thick, rough-cut stone exterior makes the structure extremely heavy and in 1889 it was the tallest, largest and heaviest building. It features beautiful gold stenciling throughout the lobby, intricate mosaic work, and ornate fireplaces with gilded and bas-relief details. That’s all before you enter the actual theater which features poetic landscape murals, warm exposed bulb lighting, and beautiful arches.

15. Blackstone Library

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Blackstone Library, 4904 S Lake Park Ave
Chicago, IL 60615

The Blackstone Library is a stately Classical Revival-style building by architect Solon S. Beman, who was also responsible for designing the industrial town of Pullman. What’s especially noteworthy at this library, built in 1904, is that many of the historic elements are still intact throughout the rich gold and granite space. At the dome of the rotunda there are four lunette paintings by Chicago artists Oliver Dennett Grover that represent literature, science, labor, and art.

16. The Yale

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6565 S Yale Ave
Chicago, IL 60621

In a similar style to the Brewster Apartments, this South Side building features a sunny atrium with bright yellow walls and New Orleans-style interior balconies. The seven-story Richardsonian-Romanesque building housed visitors to the World’s Fair in 1893. The challenge here: If you want to see inside, you have to know a resident or wait for Open House Chicago.

17. South Shore Cultural Center

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7059 S South Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60649
(773) 256-0149
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Sugar white plaster details. Pale pastel pinks, blues, and greens. Intricate mosaics. Crystal chandeliers. The former country club, now owned by the Park District, is one of the city’s most lavish interiors. The decadent building was designed by architecture firm Marshall and Fox who were also responsible for the Blackstone and Drake hotels.

18. New Regal Theater

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1645 E 79th St
Chicago, IL 60649

The Regal Theater recently made headlines when Kanye West promised to restore the building. The building’s ornate lobby has been a star on the list of sites for Chicago Open House and for a good reason. It’s Middle Eastern and Moorish structure dazzles with its highly stylized mosaics, paintings, and ornamentation. A Persian incense burner found in antique market inspired the architect, John Eberson, to design the project in 1923, according to the Landmarks Commission.

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1. The Brewster Building

2800 N Pine Grove Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Originally known as the Lincoln Park Palace, the heavy and rough exterior houses a particularly light and airy interior. Inside the apartment building there are cast-iron stairs and elevator cages, bridge walkways paved with glass blocks, and a massive skylight at the top.

2800 N Pine Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

2. Elks National Memorial

2750 N Lakeview Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

The Elks National Memorial was deemed a landmark in 1926 for its classical Beaux Arts style. The Elks are a social organization that originated in New York and this particular memorial pays tribute to the members who fought in World War I (and now, other American veterans as well). The interior features a Roman-inspired dome, grand ornamentation, ornate sculptures and allegorical murals.

2750 N Lakeview Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

3. Reebie Storage Warehouse

2325 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

It’s hard to miss the creative terracotta exterior depicting ancient Egyptian imagery and hieroglyphics—its one of the country’s best examples of Egyptian Revival commercial architecture. Originally, it was built by the Reebie Storage and Moving Company but now it houses an antique shop. On the inside you’ll see art glass windows, decorative metalwork, lotus-leaf column capitals, and plaster reliefs depicting ancient Egyptians.

2325 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

4. Chicago Theater

175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

This theater was one of the earliest designed by the movie house experts C.W. Rapp and George L. Rapp. The architects gave every aspect of the theaters they designed consideration from the moment a visitor would walk inside until they sat down. While the exterior marquee is quite memorable, it’s interior is a marvel as well. The Neo Baroque and French Revival style is spectacular—after all it was inspired by the royal chapel at Versaille and featured actual Louis XIV furnishings, according to the Chicago Architecture Center.

175 N State St
Chicago, IL 60601

5. James R. Thompson Center

100 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

This controversial interior deserves a spot on this list, at the very least, for its postmodern architecture. Despite what you think of the building, it’s wiry atrium with light blue and pale red is one-of-a-kind especially for state government offices. It was designed by Helmut Jahn and opened in 1985.

100 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601

6. The Delaware Building

150 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60601

The Delaware building is one of the Loop structures from the massive rebuilding that followed the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The Italianate-style building isn’t as flashy as the nearby downtown theaters but it’s not to be missed. Step inside to find a dramatic steel-framed, geometric atrium with long strands of hanging plants.

150 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60601

7. City Hall

121 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60602

The city’s municipal buildings run the gamut in style from the postmodern Thompson Center to the sleek International Style of the Daley Center. However, City Hall which houses the mayor’s office and other chambers is a bit more classic. There are dramatic archways, lantern chandeliers, and gold elevator banks. It’s a chic backdrop for couples getting hitched, but really the smooth, cavernous halls are a pleasant place to for stroll.

121 N LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60602

8. Garfield Park Gold Dome Field House

100 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624

A prime example of how some of the best architecture exists in the city’s parks. The fieldhouse, a gold domed building, was the headquarters for the West Park Commision (the agency before the Chicago Park District). The impressive building features a Spanish Baroque Revival style with twisted columns portrait busts, swirling ornamentation, colorful terrazzo floors, marble-clad walls, and sculptural panels.

100 N Central Park Ave
Chicago, IL 60624

9. Palmer House Hotel

17 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603

Now a Hilton, the hotel developed by Chicago businessman Potter Palmer has a truly stunning lobby. The Classical Revival style building with French Neoclassical ornamentation was designed by Holabird & Roche—in short, its elaborate. The interior is massive with towering columns, candelabras, marble busts, gold stenciling, and detailed mosaics.

17 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603

10. Field Building

Field Building, 135 S LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60604

Want to take a peek at Chicago’s Art Deco? This two-story lobby in the Field Building is quite distinctive. The joy is in the details: address numerals, lobby clocks, and the chrome bridge. The high-rise was built by the famous Marshall Field and it was the last major office completed before a two-decade construction hiatus during the Great Depression and World War II.

Field Building, 135 S LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60604

11. Rookery Building

209 S LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60604

On the exterior, the brick-red exterior is heavy and chunky. What’s inside? A light-filled, airy lobby with delicate details. John Root was the original architect here, but Frank Lloyd Wright remodeled the Rookery’s skylit lobby in 1905. During this change, Wright brought in elements of his Prairie School designs such as strong horizontal lines and geometric shapes.

209 S LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60604

12. The Old Post Office

433 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60607

Until recently, the Chicago’s Old Main Post Office had been closed since 1996. It’s massive renovation and redevelopment have allowed its Art Deco lobby to shine once again. One of the most impressive spaces (also featured in The Dark Knight) is the building’s cavernous, marble-clad lobby. It was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White in 1921.

433 W Van Buren St
Chicago, IL 60607

13. Fine Arts Building

410 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

The Fine Arts Building was originally made for the assembly and display of carriages and wagons, but soon was converted into studios and theaters for artists in 1898. What’s remarkable is that the public spaces, including the murals on the 10th floor, have essentially remained the same since the remodel. The best time to visit is during Second Fridays when the building full of painters, instrument makers, and dance instructors open up their studios to share with the public.

410 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

14. Auditorium Theatre

50 East Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

This theater, designed by Adler and Sullivan, is an immense architectural achievement. The thick, rough-cut stone exterior makes the structure extremely heavy and in 1889 it was the tallest, largest and heaviest building. It features beautiful gold stenciling throughout the lobby, intricate mosaic work, and ornate fireplaces with gilded and bas-relief details. That’s all before you enter the actual theater which features poetic landscape murals, warm exposed bulb lighting, and beautiful arches.

50 East Ida B. Wells Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

15. Blackstone Library

Blackstone Library, 4904 S Lake Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60615

The Blackstone Library is a stately Classical Revival-style building by architect Solon S. Beman, who was also responsible for designing the industrial town of Pullman. What’s especially noteworthy at this library, built in 1904, is that many of the historic elements are still intact throughout the rich gold and granite space. At the dome of the rotunda there are four lunette paintings by Chicago artists Oliver Dennett Grover that represent literature, science, labor, and art.

Blackstone Library, 4904 S Lake Park Ave
Chicago, IL 60615

16. The Yale

6565 S Yale Ave, Chicago, IL 60621

In a similar style to the Brewster Apartments, this South Side building features a sunny atrium with bright yellow walls and New Orleans-style interior balconies. The seven-story Richardsonian-Romanesque building housed visitors to the World’s Fair in 1893. The challenge here: If you want to see inside, you have to know a resident or wait for Open House Chicago.

6565 S Yale Ave
Chicago, IL 60621

17. South Shore Cultural Center

7059 S South Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60649

Sugar white plaster details. Pale pastel pinks, blues, and greens. Intricate mosaics. Crystal chandeliers. The former country club, now owned by the Park District, is one of the city’s most lavish interiors. The decadent building was designed by architecture firm Marshall and Fox who were also responsible for the Blackstone and Drake hotels.

7059 S South Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60649

18. New Regal Theater

1645 E 79th St, Chicago, IL 60649

The Regal Theater recently made headlines when Kanye West promised to restore the building. The building’s ornate lobby has been a star on the list of sites for Chicago Open House and for a good reason. It’s Middle Eastern and Moorish structure dazzles with its highly stylized mosaics, paintings, and ornamentation. A Persian incense burner found in antique market inspired the architect, John Eberson, to design the project in 1923, according to the Landmarks Commission.

1645 E 79th St
Chicago, IL 60649