Wednesday, August 31, 2011

River North: Medinah Temple

NOTE.. Originally posted: March, 2009..
Reposted: August 31, 2011, with all new images...

Medinah Temple..
Address: 600 N. Wabash Ave.
Year Built: 1912
Architect: Huehl & Schmid ..
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: June 27, 2001..
Bloomingdale has taken over this building since 2003..

One of the most distinctive buildings on the Near North Side of Chicago, Medinah Temple is considered one of the nation's finest examples of a Middle Eastern-style Shirine temple. The plethora of Islamic and Middle Eastern ornament on the temple's exterior gives it a sense of exotic fantasy well-suited to the Shrine rituals for which the building was constructed.
Some details..

This article was originally posted: March, 2009..
Reposted: August 31, 2011, with all new images...


Jim Iska said...

Medinah Temple had one of the best auditoriums in the city before Bloomingdale's gutted it. The acoustics were so good the CSO recorded there on occasion.

I saw Luciano Pavarotti give a recital there in the late 70s.

Jyoti said...

Great auditorium being destroyed is sad ... very sad .. and I am all for preserving our treasures , especially of historic nature ...

But how much should Bloomingdale be blamed for it??? Afterall Bloomingdale took over an abandoned shriners temple ... So it was abandoned, before Bloomingdale took over ... and an agreed part of takeover was to to preserve the historic facade of the existing Medinah Temple building and constructing a new interior structure for Bloomingdales Home Furnishings Store.

Jim Iska said...

You're absolutely right.

The sale of Medinah Temple to Bloomingdale's in fact prevented the building from having been demolished, which was a real possibility at the time. Medinah Temple wasn't landmarked until after it was gutted.

No of course, not everything can be saved. I would agree that having the facade is better than having no trace of the building at all.

Nevertheless, it still was one of the great experiences of my life to have seen an artist who is no longer with us perform in that great hall, that itself is now only a memory.

CHICAGOandPointsNorth said...

Another collection of consistently good work. Thanks.

Jyoti said...

I can imagine what a wonderfl experience it would have been to hear Pavarotti in a great auditorium!! Its a shame we lost both. While his voice will live on the auditorium is gone forever.
Thanks for your comment!

Chicago and Points North ...
Thanks for your comment!

Daniel R. said...

I am simply thrilled that this building survives as a reminder to many of us of our past. In my childhood, I well remember the excitement of attending the Circus benefits that were held here - elephants, tight rope walkers, and all. The exterior and windows look better than it ever did in my life time.

al kuhn said...

Your blogs on Medinah and the Tree Studios ae just wonderful: I'm looking at familiar buildings but, through your art,I am seeing them anew for the first time. Can't thank you enough. Best, Al Kuhn

Jyoti said...

Thanks Al!

Anonymous said...

One of my favouite memories from my childhood is going to the circus every year.

BobE said...

Dad was a Shriner and brought his family to events at the Medinah Temple. The building and everything about the place impressed me very much as a child. Later I brought my family to one or two circus events there. Then I haven't gone by there in many years and just assumed that this was a permanent part of Chicago which would never change. I just woke up to the fact that it did change! What surprised me was:
* Bloomingdales has a beautiful store inside the old structure which they seem to be taking good care of.
* The stage is gone, and I share the sad feelings of others who lament its destruction.
* The chief clerk who met me when I entered informed me that the building is a historic landmark and that it was constructed 100 years ago this week!
And "no picture taking inside please."
* I experienced some historical coincidence when I left the building; President Obama's motor cottage passed by on Ohio Street on this day that he was re-elected for a second term.