I don’t win things: contests, raffles, children’s party games…but at an event the other night, my luck was with me and I won a free night at the Intercontinental Hotel. Yay me! Certainly I’ve heard about the pool and like most Chicagoans, I am more than familiar with the top of the building. When I was a tour guide on the river, every person wanted to know what this building was. So…today’s building is the Intercontinental Hotel located at 505 N. Michigan Ave:
It was designed by Walter Ahlschlager, who we have talked about before on Chicago Elevated. He designed one of the other Million Times buildings – The Broadway Building. Originally the building was the Medinah Athletic Club and was finished in 1928. People thought it was too extravagant at the time – that weird time period between the boom of tall art-deco buildings and the stock market crash of 1929.
The most notable feature of the building is its dome. Gold and moorish revival in design, it’s original use was for docking dirigibles. That was it’s purpose yet no dirigible ever did land there. In the building was a shooting range and babbling brooks and a miniature golf course…all kinds of cool stuff.
On the 8th floor there are bas relief (sculptures in stone) of Wisdom, Consecration and Contribution. Faces of former memebers can be seen in the exterior as well.
It is rumored to have one of the best pools ever. It’s located on the 14th floor and was one of the highest indoor pools on the world at the the time. It’s tiled and beautiful and Johnny Weismuller trained in this pool. There’s a big statue of Neptune in there to watch over you as you swim. I am damn looking forward to swimming in this pool.
The building became a hotel in 1944 and then was passed around from chain to chain until The Intercontinental Hotels people bought it in 1988 and it opened after major renovation in 1990. When they were doing the renovation, one of the former members brought in a book of photographs from the 1930s and these pictures were used extensively to bring former rooms back to their original grandeur.
There are all kinds of crazy rooms and ballrooms inside. I probably should have saved this until we got back so I could take a bunch of pictures, but we can always revisit, right? Right.