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South Loop Building Fire

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 25, 2006 1:06PM


Yesterday’s fire in the South Loop had an impact on the present and took away a part of Chicago’s past.

The building that caught fire was the Witt Dexter Commerical Loft Building at 630 S. Wabash. Firefighters battled the blaze into the night, the CTA’s Loop elevated trains were shut down, and nearby buildings were evacuated.

Here’s what you need to know for your morning commute: Green Line and Orange Line service is currently suspended between Roosevelt and the Loop until the CTA can inspect the structures for damage. Inbound passengers from the South Side will have to transfer to the Red Line or the #29 State Street bus at Roosevelt to travel into the Loop. From there, passengers can transfer to the Library/Van Buren stop to travel to other Loop elevated stations. Passengers making these connections can transfer for free. The #29 bus line has resumed normal service as of 7:12 a.m. this morning.

2006_10_streetclosuremap2.jpgHarrison and Balbo will be closed from Michigan on the east to Dearborn on the west. State and Wabash will also be closed from Harrison on the north to Balbo on the south. Also, the Columbia College buildings at 619 and 623 S. Wabash are closed today, which means Gourmand is going to be really crowded.

Dismiss it as “just a building,” but the Dexter Building was another example of the architecture of Louis Sullivan, who moved here in 1873. He began a partnership with Dankmar Adler in 1879, and the two redefined modern architecture of the time by moving away from established design work and created wholly original structures. The Dexter was named a Chicago landmark in 1996 and was initially a furniture showroom when it was built in 1887. Adler and Sullivan’s work here would later be seen in the nearby Auditorium Building.

There are twelve intact Sullivan buildings left in Chicago, stretching from Krause Music in Lincoln Square to the Eliel House in Oakland.

Dexter Witt image via thirdrail. Map courtesy of Google Maps, Chicagoist and some ham-handed work in Microsoft Paint.