The Chicago Cultural Center has been listed as one of Chicago’s most beautiful locations, yet in my years in Chicago I’ve never heard it suggested as a destination. I participated in a panel within a forum in the building 5 years ago without exploring the rest of the structure. It is a shame that treasures like this go unappreciated!
This architectural gem is one of the oldest and most outstanding remaining examples of neoclassical architecture in Chicago, filled with ornate Venetian ceilings, marble staircases and Tiffany dome glass ceilings. The site has hosted everything from Presidents and royalty, to artists and wedding receptions.
Initially intended for use as the city’s central library and the “Grand Army of the Republic” meeting hall, the center was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge in 1892. The building was completed in 1897 at a then cost of $2 million, or over $100 million in current dollars. It was later converted to the first dedicated Community Center in the nation.
Seen here is the Preston Bradley Hall capped by a 38 foot Tiffany dome glass ceiling, the largest in the world. The entryway to Preston Bradley Hall is a Renaissance inspired marble staircase and coffered ceilings that would be breathtaking, if not for their placement next to this room.
The natural wood, marble and glass make this room especially challenging to shoot. The room takes on shades of gold, green and amber depending on the time of day and the reflection of the outside light. This photo was taken on Sunday, June 1 at 10:15 AM with mostly sunny skies cascading into the room.
The Chicago Cultural Center continues to host numerous art exhibits and public speaking forums. Admission is free and the tour guides are knowledgeable and eager to show people around this great building.