Our tour today begins in the Bryn Mawr Historic District at the Belle Shore Hotel. The hotel was developed by Max Malter and named for his wife Belle in 1928-29. The architects of this remarkable Art Deco style building were the firm of Koenigsberg and Weisfeld. The building was recognized as a Chicago Landmark on January 20, 1999.
The building is listed in the Northwest Terra Cotta Company registry for buildings where their terra cotta was used. It has been restored recently as part of the National Historic District designation for Bryn Mawr Avenue. The terra cotta shows the Egyptian design influence with accents of black and gold. Earlier in the decade, the discovery of King Tut’s tomb sparked an interest in Egyptian design. The first and second floors of the building are covered in a green glazed terra cotta. The windows are grouped in twos and threes on the second floor except at the corners, where single windows are separated by molded terra cotta figures surrounded plant designs. The floors from three to seven are built of a golden brick in two tones with the window groupings of three surrounded in the green terra cotta. A molded green cornice defines the base of the eighth floor and the windows above are surrounded in the golden brick instead of terra cotta. Above that is a green terra cotta cornice.
At the street level, above the storefront windows, are many more terra cotta details. The entrance to the hotel is recessed from the street with an arched shape. Above the door is a sunburst design in gold. The terra cotta surrounding the doorway is in pastel colors with gold accents. The door opens into a hallway with a vaulted ceiling and decorative moldings. This is the public lobby. The reception hall is a large square room with the front office, mailboxes and a beautiful mural that surrounds the room at the upper level. The mural depicts scenes from the old testament and the story begins on the west wall. The ceiling in this room is covered with a decorative molding is a small square pattern.
The hotel represents a later development in housing in the area. It is in John Lewis Cochran’s First Addition to his Edgewater development, which he began in 1885. This area was first developed as a small suburban town with single family homes on the quiet streets south of Bryn Mawr. Cochran added to this in 1887 with the subdivision of lots from Bryn Mawr north to Thorndale. By the time he opened his second addition to Edgewater in 1889, the City of Chicago had taken over the area. With the connection of Edgewater to downtown via the “L” between 1908 and 1910, the area began to boom with flat buildings, two-flats, three-flats and six-flats. Then, with the construction of the Edgewater Beach Hotel on Sheridan Road, the city began to work of a zoning plan, which was put in place in 1923.
During the 1920s, as the population of Chicago was growing with young people who were seeking a new life and work in the city, a new kind of hotel was developed - the apartment hotel. It functioned as both a daily rent hotel and a residential hotel with many amenities, such as house keeping and a concierge. The Belle Shore, as one of these hotels, was an attractive place to live because it was near the lake and public transportation. Most of the units were quite compact, with kitchen alcoves, dining alcoves and one large studio room. The building is now managed by Holsten Real Estate.