The InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, one of the most beautiful landmark hotels in Chicago. It occupies a prominent location in the Michigan-Wacker Historic District at 505 N. Michigan Avenue and is listed on the National register of Historic Places.
Its unique architecture was designed by Walter W. Ahlschlager, the esteemed architect that also built the Roxy Theater in New York. The 32 story tower was constructed in 1929 as the Medinah Athletic Club, a luxury men’s club for members of the Shrine organization. Unfortunately, in 1934 the club had been a victim of the stock-market crash and the Shriners filed for bankruptcy and were forced to close its doors.
At the 8th floor facade, the Indiana limestone facade is decorated with 3 relief carvings in ancient Assyrian style from the 5th century BC ; the figures in the three relief carvings on the facade depict the faces of club members at the time of the design. At the 8th floor the facade is decorated by three large relief carvings in ancient Assyrian style representing Wisdom on the north wall, Consecration on the west, and Contribution on the south.”
“Each frieze depicted a different scene in the order of constructing a building, with Contribution on the south wall, Wisdom represented on the west wall and Consecration on the north. (According to an article in the Chicago Tribune from Sept 16, 1928 entitled “Building art inspires panels”: “The friezes were designed by George Unger, in collaboration with Walter Ahlschlager, and carved by Léon Hermant. The south panel (shown below) starts the story and is called “Contribution” and signifies the gathering of treasures for the construction of the building. In the west panel, facing Michigan Avenue, a ruler is shown with his counselors and an architect is shown bringing in a model of the building planned. The north panel shows the consecration of the building after it has been built. A priest is sacrificing a white bull whose blood will be mixed with crushed grapes and poured into the earth. A monkey trainer and his animals are shown. Since the animals represented bigotry in the ancient drawings, they are shown here in leash as symbolic belief that bigotry has no place in the Masonic order.”) The figures in all three scenes are said to be modeled after the faces of club members at the time of its design. Three Sumerian warriors were also carved into the facade at the twelfth-floor setback, directly above the Michigan Avenue entrance, and remain visible today.” Wikipedia
The building’s design is an eclectic mix of exotic medieval and oriental styles with a very heavy Moorish influence. There is an exotic gold Moorish onion dome that surmounts the structure.
Aa magnificent Spanish majolica pool has a terra cotta Neptune fountain.
One of the exotic ballrooms is the King Arthur Court, with heavy timbering, Edgar Miller stained-glass windows, and a frieze depicting stories of King Arthur and Parsifal.
The Grand Ballroom measures 90×100 feet. The two-story elliptical space is decorated with Egyptian, Assyrian, and Greek ornament and surrounded by a mezzanine. If I ever get remarried, I’m booking this room!
It was originally built in 1929 as the Medinah Athletic Club, a luxury men’s club for members of the Shrine organization. Unfortunately, in 1934 the club had been a victim of the stock-market crash and was forced to close its doors.
InterContinental Hotels, renowned for its international portfolio of extraordinary restorations, bought the property in 1988, and immediately began renovations. A quarter of a billion dollars and 12 years later, this truly magnificent InterContinental Chicago hotel was re-introduced to Chicago.
“When the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile opened its doors in 1990, it was presented as a gift to the city of Chicago. Since then it has been the recipient of numerous awards for both its architecture and design. It has been the scene for important events, and the landmark hotel’s guests have included international dignitaries, politicians, and Hollywood celebrities. InterContinental Chicago stands proudly among the other InterContinental restorations around the world, including the Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C., the Mark Hopkins InterContinental San Francisco, Le Grand InterContinental in Paris, and many more. InterContinental Hotels Group operates more than 150 hotels on six continents.” Company Website