Old Republic Building
Several articles collected but not fully integrated--needs work
Chicago, Illinois, 60601
Formerly: the Bell Building
Building type: high-rise building, 24 floors,
Height (estimated): 326.55 ft
Building status: existing [completed] in 1925
Facade material: Terracotta
Facade system: applied masonry
Facade color: white
Architectural style: Classical Revival
The Old Republic Building is a 23-story commercial structure designed by Vitzthum & Burns in the Classical Revival style. The building is clad with light buff glazed terracotta with Classical Revival terracotta ornamentation manufactured by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company, the largest of Chicago’s terracotta manufacturers in the early 20th Century.
It was originally commissioned by businessman Herbert Bell as the headquarters for the Bell and Zoller Coal Company and originally named the Bell Building. In 1956 it was sold to the Old Republic International and has since been known as the Old Republic Building.
Located on the northeast corner of Michigan Avenue and South Water Street, the Old Republic Building was one of the first tall buildings, to be constructed south of the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue (after its widening in the early 1920s).
The building exemplifies the city’s efforts to encourage commercial development on the avenue as a result of major improvements brought about by Burnham Plan of Chicago. The construction of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, the widening of the avenue and the construction of the bi-level roadway at South Water Street and Wacker Drive in the 20th Century changed the face of Michigan Avenue in particular, and the downtown in general.
The Classical Revival structure at 307 N. Michigan Avenue was one of the first tall buildings constructed south of the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue after that street was widened in the early 1920s. This project, along with the construction of a new Michigan Avenue Bridge, transformed downtown south of the river.
The commission voted Thursday, October 7, 2010, to approve landmark status for the 151,000-square-foot building, the headquarters of insurer Old Republic International, which owns the property.
Old Republic International sought the designation as part of a planned $12.4-million renovation to the tower’s exterior, mechanical systems and common areas, according to a news release from the Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning. As a landmark, the property would be eligible for reduced property taxes through Cook County’s Class L tax program.