A Piece of Chicago History

Nick always uses unconventional materials when he’s designing something. He especially likes to use commercial materials in the residential world. I always get chills when I hear the words, “I’ve been thinking” or “Do you know what I was just thinking?” Scares the hell out of me because NO I do not know what you just thought about or what crazy scheme you have just come up with and my part in it…

Which brings me to the latest item Nick found to add to the house. He’s been talking about a skylight above the kitchen for quite some time now, but I had no idea he would find what he found!

First, a little Chicago history and architectural lesson – there are four 1920s buildings that are the corner stones of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. These buildings are the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, 333 North Michigan Avenue, and the London Guarantee Building (formerly the Stone Container Building). I am going to focus on the London Guarantee Building for our purposes. It stands on the site of Fort Dearborn and is a historic landmarked building. Within the last several years, the building was sold to a hotel developer that wants to do fancy things to it. Or rather around and above it since they can’t do too much to the actually building itself.

I’m sure some of you can see where I am going here.

The London Guarantee Building had 2 10×10 skylights installed on the roof when construction began. We are now the proud owners of one of these skylights.

How is that possible, you ask?

I’ll tell you since you asked so nicely. Nick found the skylight for sale on Craig’s list and was interested in it because of the size (really?!) and that it was a commercial skylight. He talked to the guy selling it and even went to see it before deciding for sure that it would work for us. When he went to see it, he asked the guy where he got it. That’s where he first heard the story:

This guy was the foreman for a building downtown that was being renovated (London Guarantee). He had to pay for the equipment to take the skylight and that was it. There were actually 2 of the same skylight, but the other was broken and not usable. So, basically this guy got the skylight for the cost of the crane (~$1k). After consulting an architect, he realized there would be major changes needed to his house in order to actually use it, so he decided to sell it for what it cost him.

Since the house is being opened up it makes it easier for us to incorporate the skylight. So it’s ours.

We were even able to document it coming off the building – Nick found an article with this picture of it loaded on the truck in front of the London Gurantee Building.


Loading of the Skylight in front of London Guarantee Building


Nick, his dad, and I went to pick this thing up. It’s surprisingly light when there aren’t any glass panels installed, so it was not really that bad. It was a bit after Nick did the chainsaw number to his leg, so he was moving a little slower. Not much, but some.


Loading the Glass Panels into the Truck



Glass Panels


Towing the Skylight


So, I guess this baby is being incorporated into the plans. God help me.

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