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Louis Sullivan at 150 Years
Celebrating Louis Sullivan's 150th Anniversary

In 2006, the Chicago History Museum led a six-week series of public programs to mark the 150th anniversary of Louis Sullivan's birth. The culminating event was the Louis Sullivan at 150 International Symposium, held at the Museum. Click here to access audio recordings of the symposium presentations, including the keynote address by Jean-Louis Cohen.

This website serves as a record of the celebration and provides an extensive overview of Louis Sullivan's life and career. Click here to find out more about the programs held throughout Chicago to mark Sullivan's sesquicentennial.

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Louis Sullivan designed numerous buildings in the Chicago area, both with Dankmar Adler and independently. Initially, the firm of Adler & Sullivan specialized in residences and small commercial buildings. But soon their work began to grow in scale, starting with the Auditorium Building. The Auditorium Building at 430 South Michigan Avenue was originally used as an opera house, hotel, and office space. Upon completion, it was the tallest in building Chicago. Today, the Auditorium Theatre is a National Historic Landmark and the home of Roosevelt University.

After the Auditorium Building, Adler & Sullivan started work on the Schiller building. The Schiller, coupled with the Wainwright building of the same year, secured Sullivanís reputation as a master of tall office building design. During the early 1890s, Adler & Sullivan designed more skyscrapers, including the St. Louis Union Trust building and the Chicago Stock Exchange.

After the partners split in 1895, Sullivan designed the Bayard Building in New York as well as the Gage Building at 18 S. Michigan Avenue and the Carson Pirie Scott Building at State and Madison Streets in Chicago. The steel structure of the Carson Pirie Scott Building greatly increased window space, allowing daylight into building interiors and expanding display area for merchandise. Sullivanís signature ornamental work is readily evident in the cast-iron at the buildingís entrance and the newly-restored cornice. Sullivanís later design work consisted largely of small Midwestern banks.

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Krause Music Store; Barbara Crane, courtesy Commission on Chicago Landmarks

By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, Sullivan's star was well on the descent and for the remainder of his life his output consisted primarily of a series of small bank and commercial buildings in the Midwest. 1

  • National Farmer's Bank, Owatonna, Minnesota (1908)
  • Peoples Savings Bank, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1911)
  • Henry Adams Building, Algona, Iowa (1913)
  • Merchants' National Bank, Grinnell, Iowa (1914)
  • Home Building Association Bank, Newark, Ohio (1914)
  • Purdue State Bank, West Lafayette, Indiana (1914)
  • Thrift Building (Peoples Saving and Loan Association), Sidney, Ohio (1918)
  • Farmers and Merchants Bank, Columbus, Wisconsin (1919)

Getty Tomb; Barbara Crane, courtesy Commission on Chicago Landmarks

Lost Sullivan's 1

  • Central Music Hall, Chicago, 1879, demolished in 1901
  • Borden Block, Chicago, 1879, demolished 1917
  • Grand Opera House, Chicago, 1880,- demolished, 1927
  • Pueblo Opera House, Pueblo, Colorado, 1890,- destroyed by fire, 1922
  • Chicago Stock Exchange Building, 1893, demolished, 1971-1972
  • Zion Temple, Chicago, 1884 -1885, demolished before 1950
  • Transportation Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893--94. Demolished after the fair
  • Schiller Building (later Garrick Theater Building), Chicago, 1891-, demolished, 1960-1961
  • McVickers Theater, Chicago, 1883, interior theatre demolished, 1922
  • Thirty-Ninth Street Passenger Station, Chicago, 1886, demolished, 1934
  • Standard Club, Chicago, 1888, demolished, -1931
  • Louis H. Sullivan Cottage, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, 1890, destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2005
  • James M. Charnley Cottage, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, 1890, extensively damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2005
  • Pilgrim Baptist Church, Chicago, 1891, destroyed by fire, -2006

Gage Group; Barbara Crane, courtesy Commission on Chicago Landmarks

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This site is supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.