Friday, January 31, 2020

January 31, 1932 -- Fort Sheridan to Get New Movie Theater

Chicago Tribune, January 31, 1932
Bartholomew Photo

January 31, 1932 – The Chicago Daily Tribune carries a rendering of a “colonial cinema” that will be built at Fort Sheridan.  According to the article, the new theater will seat 574 patrons and will be “acoustically treated for the talkies.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 31, 1932]  It will be constructed of common brick similar to the other buildings on the North Shore military post and will have a slate roof.  W. D. Mann, a Chicago architect, has designed the theater, which will cost approximately $30,000 (close to $600,000 in today’s dollars).  The building unveiled in the article still stands on the post today, a symbol of the transformation of the former military base into a residential community, The Town of Fort Sheridan.  It is no longer a movie theater, but it still makes an artistic contribution to the area.  Today it is the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany.  Julie Rotblatt-Amrany grew up in Highland Park where she was born in 1948.  After college at the University of Colorado, she attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before traveling extensively while honing her craft.  She met Omri Amrany in Italy and they were married in 1987.  Omri Amrany was born in Israel in 1954 and served as a paratrooper in the Yom Kippur War, taking up sketching during the hostilities as a means of relieving stress.  In 1985 his kibbutz sent him to Pietrasanta in Italy where he met Rotblatt.  After a time in Israel the couple returned to the Chicago area in 1989 where in 1992 they established their studio.  It is an amazing place.  At least a half-dozen sculptors and artists are at work inside the converted theater with works-in-progress scattered about the two levels of the building.  There are few places in the world that you will go where you won’t see a sculpture produced by the studio.  If you are a Chicago sports fan, then you know the Rotblatt-Amrany studio.  At Wrigley Field Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Harry Carey all came from there.  You can’t enter any gate to see the White Sox play without encountering a sculpture from Rotblatt-Armany – Luis Aparicio, Billy Pierce, Carlton Fisk, Paul Konerko, Frank Thomas, and on and on.  At the United Center there is Johnny “Red” Kerr, Scottie Pippen, and, of course, Michael Jordan.  You can even travel up to Green Bay, Wisconsin and find a bronze and granite likeness of Vince Lombardi, along with the “Green Bay Drummer” and “Lambeau Leap” outside Lambeau Field.  Those are just a few of the local sports commissions.  There are dozens and dozens more that you can appreciate by looking at the “Portfolio” tab of the studio’s website. which cane be found here. The top photo shows the rendering of the new theater as it was proposed in 1932.  The second photo shows the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany as it appears today.
January 31, 1968 – U. S. Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall, in a statement to 600 people attending the four-state Conference on Water Pollution in Lake Michigan at the Sherman House, says in a statement “Lake Michigan is sick, but I believe we are all determined it shall not die.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 1, 1968] Reading from a speech prepared by Udall, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Max N. Edwards, continues, “Delay means death to Lake Michigan, and the death of Lake Michigan would be a national tragedy.”  Udall, in bed with the flu after attending the opening night of Ford’s Theater in Washington, D. C., is unable to attend the conference in person, but his remarks are nonetheless cogent.  “I ask that the results of this conference be action – specific, strong, and coordinated action by the states, as individuals, the states as a group, and by the federal government,” he writes in his prepared remarks … I assure you that I will be prompt to do my part to see the recommendations carried out.” Mayor Richard J. Daley and Illinois Governor Otto Kerner open the conference with Daley saying, “Meet the problem in a bold and concerted manner.  Drastic action is required to meet an urgent problem … [the physical resources of Chicago] are ready to help save our lake.  It will never be cheaper to end pollution in Lake Michigan than right now.” Officials from Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan hear Kerner’s plea to support a ban against dumping polluted materials into the lake and to support federal laws to regulate pollution from boats.  “The success of this action program to free Lake Michigan from pollution must be shared by every individual organization, corporation, and government agency,” Kerner says.  The above photo appeared in Life Magazine at the time and depicts the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal with a caption describing the canal as "an old caldron running through east Chicago."  Such were conditions up and down the shore of Lake Michigan at the time.

January 31, 1958 – The Chicago Sun-Times holds a formal dedication for its new $15 million plant on the Chicago River between Wabash Avenue and Rush Street as Marshall Field, Jr. dedicates the nine-story building to the memory of his late father.  Ground was broken for the new building, designed by Naess and Murphy, in November of 1955.  Marshall Field, II founded the Sun-Times in 1941 as the Chicago Sun and the paper merged with the Chicago Times on February 2, 1948.  For more information on the building that sat where today’s Trump Tower sits, you can turn to this blog in Connecting the Windy City.  You can date this picture of the Sun Times building as sometime in 1968 because the John Hancock Center topped out that year. It is still under construction in the background.

Bartholomew Photo
January 31, 1913 – The Board of Trustees of the Art Institute commission Lorado Taft to begin work on the sculpture that will be known as “The Fountain of Time.”  The plan is for the sculpture to be erected on the Midway in Hyde Park, with a fountain and “three bridges with groups – ‘The Arts,’ “The Sciences,’ and “Religion’ connected with single figures.”  The report proclaims, “If carried out the Midway with a small lagoon, fountains, bridges and statuary, will be one of the beauty spots of the world.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, February 1, 1911]  The sculpture will be created from “creamy Georgia marble” and will take five years to complete.  It will be paid for using $30,000 from the Ferguson endowment, held in escrow at the Art Institute.  The sculptor explains the plan in this way, “The scheme for the decoration of the Midway embraces the embellishment of the park space one mile in length, connecting Washington and Jackson parks at Sixtieth street, with fountains, bridges, and connecting rows of figures.  There would be a stream of water along this park space, and the principal bridges would be at Ellis, Woodlawn, and Madison avenues.  The Fountain of Time would be at the western terminus.  Whether it will or not rests entirely with the park board.  The Bridge of Arts at Woodlawn avenue, which practically bisects the Midway, would form the center of the whole scheme of beautification, and would be more elaborate than either of the other two bridges, Religion at Ellis avenue or Science at Madison avenue.”  Although the final sculpture is a spectacular addition to the western terminus of the Midway, the grand scheme proposed on this date was considerably scaled back from the vision that was introduced to the city on this day in 1913.  Even the “creamy Georgia marble” went, and the 200 figures of the sculpture are made of hollow-cast concrete reinforced with steel.

January 31, 1911 -- The Home Insurance Company building at the corner of La Salle and Adams Streets is sold for $2,150,000. with James and Charles Deering purchasing the property. Their father, William, had founded the Deering Harvester Company, and the family hit the jackpot when financier J. P. Morgan purchased the firm and merged it with the McCormick Reaper Company and several other farm implement manufacturers to create what we know today as International Harvester. The Home Insurance Building, designed by William LeBaron Jenney and completed in 1884, is considered by many to be the world's first metal-framed skyscraper. It was the tallest building in the world for seven years. It's gone now. It was demolished in 1931 to make way for the magnificent Art Deco skyscraper at 135 South La Salle.

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