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 Louis Henri Sullivan

Louis Henri Sullivan

Birth
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 14 Apr 1924 (aged 67)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Plot Section: LAKESIDE, Lot: 105, Space: 3
Memorial ID 1003 · View Source
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Architect. He has sometimes been described as the "father" of the American skyscraper. His father was an Irish immigrant and his mother immigrated from Switzerland, both in the 1840s. After graduating from high school, he briefly studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After learning that he could both graduate from high school a year early and bypass the first two years at MIT by passing a series of examinations, he entered MIT at the age of 16. After one year of study, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and took a job with architect Frank Furness. During the Depression of 1873 Furness was forced to let him go and he moved to Chicago, Illinois to take part in the building boom following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He worked for William LeBaron Jenney, the architect often credited with erecting the first steel-frame building. After less than a year with Jenney, he moved to Paris, France and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts for a year. He then returned to Chicago and began work for the firm of Joseph S. Johnston & John Edelman as a draftsman. In 1879 he was hired by architect Dankmar Adler and a year later, he became a partner in the firm. This marked the beginning of Sullivan's most productive years and he and Adler initially achieved fame as theater architects. The culminating project of this phase of the firm's history was the 1889 Auditorium Building (1886-1890, opened in stages) in Chicago, an extraordinary mixed-use building which included not only a 4,200-seat theater, but also a hotel and an office building with a 17-story tower, with commercial storefronts at the ground level of the building. After 1889 the firm became known for their office buildings, particularly the 1891 Wainwright Building in St. Louis, Missouri. the Schiller (later Garrick) Building and theater (1890) in Chicago, along with the Chicago Stock Exchange Building (1894), the Guaranty Building (also known as the Prudential Building) of 1895-1896 in Buffalo, New York and the 1899-1904 Carson Pirie Scott Department Store in Chicago. He also designed a number of tombs and churches. With the mass production of steel in the mid-1880s, new and larger buildings were being constructed. The steel weight-bearing frame allowed not just taller buildings, but permitted much larger windows, which meant more daylight reaching interior spaces. Interior walls became thinner, which created more usable floor space. Another signature element of Sullivan's work is the massive, semi-circular arch. Sullivan employed such arches throughout his career-in shaping entrances, in framing windows, or as interior design. In 1890 he was one of the ten architects, five from the Eastern US and five from the Western US, chosen to build a major structure for the "White City", the World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. His massive Transportation Building and huge arched "Golden Door" stood out as the only building not of the current Beaux-Arts style, and the only multicolored facade in the "White City." With the onset of the Panic of 1893, he experienced a decline in their practice. By 1894, in the face of continuing financial distress with no relief in sight, he and Adler dissolved their partnership. He went into a 20-year-long financial and emotional decline, beset by a shortage of commissions, chronic financial problems and alcoholism. He obtained a few commissions for small-town Midwestern banks, wrote books, and in 1922 appeared as a critic of Raymond Hood's winning entry for the Tribune Tower competition. He died at the age of 67. He was a mentor to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and an inspiration to the Chicago group of architects who have come to be known as the Prairie School. In 1944 he posthumously received the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal. During the post-war era of urban renewal, his buildings fell into disfavor, and many were demolished while others were destroyed by fire. In the 1970s growing public concern for these buildings finally resulted in many being saved. A collection of architectural ornaments designed by him is on permanent display at Lovejoy Library at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1003
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Louis Henri Sullivan (3 Sep 1856–14 Apr 1924), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1003, citing Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .