New Exhibit Highlights Architecture, History of Chicago's Marquette Building
October 11, 2007 | Press release | Arts & Culture in Chicago

A new exhibit on the history and architecture of the Marquette Building, a Chicago landmark and one of the city’s earliest skyscrapers, opens on October 16 in the building’s arcade. 
The free exhibit is open to the public and features –

• An interactive kiosk with close-ups of some of the building’s key architectural features and its rich décor, including the semi-precious stone and glass Tiffany mosaics in the lobby;

• A scale model of the building to help visitors understand its shape and construction;

• Interviews with experts on the building’s historical significance and its recent restoration;

• Interactive kiosks offering more than 20 stories about the local, national, and international work of the MacArthur Foundation, which owns and recently restored the building. 

“The MacArthur Foundation proudly restored this historic building, returning to Chicago one of its true architectural masterpieces,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton.  “The restoration of the Marquette Building reminds us that its importance is not just a shadow of the past.  The building represents Chicago’s history, its culture, and its future.”

Named a National Historic Landmark in 1976, the Marquette Building is a classic example of the renowned Chicago-style of architecture, which is characterized by steel skeletons holding up facades of brick and ornamental terra cotta.  It was designed by Holabird & Roche and built by the George A. Fuller Company in 1894 using steel frame construction.  The building is named for French Jesuit missionary and explorer Jacques Marquette.  The lobby boasts Tiffany mosaic panels and decorative bronze heads of native Americans, early explorers, and animals. 

In 1977, Banker’s Life and Casualty Company acquired the Marquette Building.  The Company was owned by John D. MacArthur, one of the wealthiest men in America.  After John’s death in 1978, the Foundation he endowed chose the Marquette Building as the headquarters for its philanthropic work around the world.  The MacArthur Foundation proudly restored the building to its original glory. 

MacArthur worked closely with preservation specialists in architecture and engineering to return the building to its original design. The past century had brought non-historical renovations, removal of the cornice, and damage from pollution and the elements. A team of experts thoroughly researched the building’s history, construction, original details, and alterations made over the decades.  MacArthur recreated the cornice, a massive, ornamental molding that encircles the top perimeter of the structure, restored the building’s façade, and reconstructed the original windows. 

“The Marquette Building is one of the best examples in Chicago of the spirit of innovation and the creative forces that made our city the world leader in architecture” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  “Due to the efforts of the MacArthur Foundation, we now have another story to tell:  how the stewardship of a civic-minded organization can preserve and celebrate an architectural landmark in a new and innovative way.” 

The new exhibit is located in the building’s arcade, just west of the lobby, at 140 South Dearborn Street.  It is open to the public from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends.  The exhibit will run indefinitely. 

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