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An ornate golden ceiling arch with detailed medallions.
The gold-leaf ceiling in Chicago’s historic London Guarantee & Accident Building which reopened of the LondonHouse hotel.
Photo by Nick Fochtman

12 historic Chicago buildings reborn as hotels

Outdated office towers, private clubs, and industrial warehouses get second chances as guest rooms

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The gold-leaf ceiling in Chicago’s historic London Guarantee & Accident Building which reopened of the LondonHouse hotel.
| Photo by Nick Fochtman

While Chicago’s century-old office buildings may no longer meet the needs of today’s tenants, an unprecedented number of historic commercial structures have found a second life as hotel developments. In a city where historic architecture often survives so long as it turns a profit, the trend offers a win-win for Chicago’s tourism and hospitality industries as well as local preservationists.

Older buildings also present opportunities for striking design and unique experiences like a chance to ride the Robey’s restored 1920s style elevators, unwind in the Chicago Athletic Association’s old-school game room, or scope out downtown’s best architecture from the roof of LondonHouse.

Here’s a look at 12 outdated commercial buildings resurrected through redevelopment.

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1. London Guarantee & Accident Building

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85 E Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 357-1200
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Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by noted Chicago architect Alfred S. Alschuler and completed in 1923, the 23-story London Guarantee & Accident Building stands at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. The former office building reopened in 2016 as the 452-room LondonHouse hotel. The $200 million project retains the property’s original gold-leaf ceilings and murals. The hotel’s roof terrace remains a popular spot during Chicago’s warmer months and it has a great view of significant architecture along the river.

2. Chicago Athletic Association

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12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 940-3552
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This 1893 Venetian-Gothic style building by architect Henry Ives Cobb housed the private Chicago Athletic Association club until 2007. A 2015 redevelopment transformed the Michigan Avenue structure into a boutique hotel with 241 guest rooms. Now, the Chicago Athletic Association preserves much of the historic club’s architectural details including an ornate wood-trimmed lobby and a plaster ballroom. A rooftop restaurant and bar offers stunning views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.

3. Carbide & Carbon Building

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230 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 345-1000
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Standing like an oversized champagne bottle topped by gold foil, the 1929 Carbide & Carbon Building is a true Chicago icon. Designed by the Burnham brothers, the Art Deco building shifted from office space into the Hard Rock Hotel in 2004, which predates most conversions on this list. In 2017, the Hard Rock shut down and the space was turned into the St. Jane Hotel—named for Chicago-based social activist Jane Addams.

4. Chicago Motor Club

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68 E Wacker Pl
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 419-9014
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Designed by Holabird & Root and built in 1928, the 15-story Chicago Motor Club sat vacant from 2004 until a 2015 renovation reimaged the Art Deco building as a Hampton Inn. The adaptive reuse project embraces the structure’s motoring past in the lobby with an old-school 1928 Ford Model A and a restored vintage mural featuring a map of the United States’ highway system.

5. Old Dearborn Bank Building

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203 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 940-4400
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This landmarked office tower at the corner of Lake and Wabash opened in 2015 as the Virgin Hotel following a three-year renovation. The Old Dearborn Bank Building was completed in 1928 by architecture firm Rapp & Rapp, which was known for designing some of Chicago’s best-known movie palaces. The historic exterior conceals a playful contemporary interior topped by an indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge.

6. New York Life Insurance Building

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122 W Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 750-9012
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Built in the heart of the Loop’s financial district in 1894 by celebrated architect and engineer William Le Baron Jenney, the 14-story New York Life Insurance Building outlived its life as an office. Thankfully, after a push by local preservationists to landmark the property, the historic tower turned into the 293-room Kimpton Gray Hotel in 2016. The redevelopment repaired exterior brick and terracotta details, replaced aging windows, and restored interior marble to its 19th-century glory.

7. Roanoke Building

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11 S LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 223-8500
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This 35-story LaSalle Street landmark was built between 1915 and 1925 by architecture firm Holabird & Roche. It is considered Chicago’s best example of Portuguese Gothic Revival. After decades of office use, the Roanoke Building was made into the world’s largest Marriott Residence Inn in 2015. The repositioned property includes 380 extended stay guest rooms and 7,500 square feet of meeting space.

8. James M. Nederlander Theatre Building

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32 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 763-3822
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Completed in 1927 by architecture firm Rapp & Rapp, the 21-story tower above the Loop’s historic James M. Nederlander Theatre (formerly known as the Oriental Theatre) was converted from vacant office space to a Cambria Hotel in 2017. While the project made few alterations to the building’s historic facade, the interior was remade into 199 guest rooms served by contemporary amenities.

9. Reliance Building

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1 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 940-7997
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Constructed in the late 19th by Architects Daniel Burnham, John Root, and Charles Atwood, the Loop’s Reliance Building features a steel frame with a white glazed terracotta exterior and was the first high-rise to incorporate large plate glass windows. In 1999, the building underwent a major restoration and opened as the 122-room Hotel Burnham. The hotel portion later sold and was rebranded as the Staypineapple.

10. Northwest Tower

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2018 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(872) 315-3050
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In Wicker Park, the 203-foot-tall former Northwest Tower (also known as the Coyote Building) has loomed over the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee, and North avenues since the 1920s. Despite its impressive stature, the offices fell into disrepair. That all changed in 2016 after the property reopened as the 69-room Robey hotel. The refurb restored many of the Art Deco touches designed by original architects Perkins, Chatten, and Hammond and added two rooftop bars with sweeping skyline vistas.

11. Allis Building

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113-125 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 521-8000
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The transformation of Fulton Market’s Allis Building from a five-story loft warehouse into the trendy Soho House hotel and private club proved that vintage industrial buildings are equally suited for hospitality roles. The 2014 adaptive reuse recreated the 1907 building’s original entryway mosaic and incorporated planks from its demolished rooftop water tower into artwork in the lobby.

12. Borden Dairy Depot

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312 W Chestnut St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 291-9922
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Another unusual former industrial property to recently receive a hotel makeover is the Near North Side’s Borden Dairy Depot which reopened in 2017 as the FieldHouse Jones. The 1930s-era brick and terracotta structure is home to both hotel and hostel accommodations. The reimagined interior features a sports-inspired motif complete with slot car racing tracks, vintage scoreboards and trophies, a lobby sculpture of 400 wooden tennis racket. Plus, a speakeasy named the Janitor’s Closet.

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1. London Guarantee & Accident Building

85 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by noted Chicago architect Alfred S. Alschuler and completed in 1923, the 23-story London Guarantee & Accident Building stands at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. The former office building reopened in 2016 as the 452-room LondonHouse hotel. The $200 million project retains the property’s original gold-leaf ceilings and murals. The hotel’s roof terrace remains a popular spot during Chicago’s warmer months and it has a great view of significant architecture along the river.

85 E Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

2. Chicago Athletic Association

12 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

This 1893 Venetian-Gothic style building by architect Henry Ives Cobb housed the private Chicago Athletic Association club until 2007. A 2015 redevelopment transformed the Michigan Avenue structure into a boutique hotel with 241 guest rooms. Now, the Chicago Athletic Association preserves much of the historic club’s architectural details including an ornate wood-trimmed lobby and a plaster ballroom. A rooftop restaurant and bar offers stunning views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.

12 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603

3. Carbide & Carbon Building

230 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60601

Standing like an oversized champagne bottle topped by gold foil, the 1929 Carbide & Carbon Building is a true Chicago icon. Designed by the Burnham brothers, the Art Deco building shifted from office space into the Hard Rock Hotel in 2004, which predates most conversions on this list. In 2017, the Hard Rock shut down and the space was turned into the St. Jane Hotel—named for Chicago-based social activist Jane Addams.

230 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60601

4. Chicago Motor Club

68 E Wacker Pl, Chicago, IL 60601

Designed by Holabird & Root and built in 1928, the 15-story Chicago Motor Club sat vacant from 2004 until a 2015 renovation reimaged the Art Deco building as a Hampton Inn. The adaptive reuse project embraces the structure’s motoring past in the lobby with an old-school 1928 Ford Model A and a restored vintage mural featuring a map of the United States’ highway system.

68 E Wacker Pl
Chicago, IL 60601

5. Old Dearborn Bank Building

203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601

This landmarked office tower at the corner of Lake and Wabash opened in 2015 as the Virgin Hotel following a three-year renovation. The Old Dearborn Bank Building was completed in 1928 by architecture firm Rapp & Rapp, which was known for designing some of Chicago’s best-known movie palaces. The historic exterior conceals a playful contemporary interior topped by an indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge.

203 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60601

6. New York Life Insurance Building

122 W Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60603

Built in the heart of the Loop’s financial district in 1894 by celebrated architect and engineer William Le Baron Jenney, the 14-story New York Life Insurance Building outlived its life as an office. Thankfully, after a push by local preservationists to landmark the property, the historic tower turned into the 293-room Kimpton Gray Hotel in 2016. The redevelopment repaired exterior brick and terracotta details, replaced aging windows, and restored interior marble to its 19th-century glory.

122 W Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603

7. Roanoke Building

11 S LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60603

This 35-story LaSalle Street landmark was built between 1915 and 1925 by architecture firm Holabird & Roche. It is considered Chicago’s best example of Portuguese Gothic Revival. After decades of office use, the Roanoke Building was made into the world’s largest Marriott Residence Inn in 2015. The repositioned property includes 380 extended stay guest rooms and 7,500 square feet of meeting space.

11 S LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60603

8. James M. Nederlander Theatre Building

32 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

Completed in 1927 by architecture firm Rapp & Rapp, the 21-story tower above the Loop’s historic James M. Nederlander Theatre (formerly known as the Oriental Theatre) was converted from vacant office space to a Cambria Hotel in 2017. While the project made few alterations to the building’s historic facade, the interior was remade into 199 guest rooms served by contemporary amenities.

32 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601

9. Reliance Building

1 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

Constructed in the late 19th by Architects Daniel Burnham, John Root, and Charles Atwood, the Loop’s Reliance Building features a steel frame with a white glazed terracotta exterior and was the first high-rise to incorporate large plate glass windows. In 1999, the building underwent a major restoration and opened as the 122-room Hotel Burnham. The hotel portion later sold and was rebranded as the Staypineapple.

1 W Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602

10. Northwest Tower

2018 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

In Wicker Park, the 203-foot-tall former Northwest Tower (also known as the Coyote Building) has loomed over the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee, and North avenues since the 1920s. Despite its impressive stature, the offices fell into disrepair. That all changed in 2016 after the property reopened as the 69-room Robey hotel. The refurb restored many of the Art Deco touches designed by original architects Perkins, Chatten, and Hammond and added two rooftop bars with sweeping skyline vistas.

2018 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

11. Allis Building

113-125 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607

The transformation of Fulton Market’s Allis Building from a five-story loft warehouse into the trendy Soho House hotel and private club proved that vintage industrial buildings are equally suited for hospitality roles. The 2014 adaptive reuse recreated the 1907 building’s original entryway mosaic and incorporated planks from its demolished rooftop water tower into artwork in the lobby.

113-125 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607

12. Borden Dairy Depot

312 W Chestnut St, Chicago, IL 60610

Another unusual former industrial property to recently receive a hotel makeover is the Near North Side’s Borden Dairy Depot which reopened in 2017 as the FieldHouse Jones. The 1930s-era brick and terracotta structure is home to both hotel and hostel accommodations. The reimagined interior features a sports-inspired motif complete with slot car racing tracks, vintage scoreboards and trophies, a lobby sculpture of 400 wooden tennis racket. Plus, a speakeasy named the Janitor’s Closet.

312 W Chestnut St
Chicago, IL 60610