BUYER WANTED: Penthouse in former Montgomery Ward & Co. Headquarters Building

Penthouse in former Montgomery Ward & Co. Building, 1899, Richard E. Schmidt, 6 N. Michigan Avenue. Photo credit: VHT Studio
Penthouse in former Montgomery Ward & Co. Building, 1899, Richard E. Schmidt, 6 N. Michigan Avenue. Photo credit: VHT Studio
Penthouse in former Montgomery Ward & Co. Building, 1899, Richard E. Schmidt, 6 N. Michigan Avenue. Photo credit: VHT Studio
In 1899, the open-air observatory at the top the of the Montgomery Ward & Co. tower was the highest point in Chicago. Advertisement for Montgomery Ward & Co.’s ‘Busy Beehive’ a 6. N. Michigan Avenue in 1899. Image credit: Chicago History Museum, ICHi-001622

“A uniquely Chicago condo, set 19 stories above Millennium Park in the ornate crown of an early high-rise built for a retailing empire, will go on the market in early January, but it’s already a sensation on Instagram.

“The condo, four levels and a large roof deck at the top of the old Montgomery Ward headquarters tower built in 1899 at 6 N. Michigan Ave., will be priced just under $3.7 million.

“Seven days after McCormick posted a preview video of the penthouse at 6 N. Michigan, it has over 178,000 likes. Compare that to a video she posted a week earlier for a condo in the Waldorf Astoria that’s in the same price range and now has about 1,640 likes.

“It’s no surprise Instagram users are passing the video around. The condo is genuinely unique. Its centerpiece is a 19th-floor room, once a Willis Tower-style observatory, surrounded on four sides with stone columns topped by carved arches.

“On three sides, the columns frame views of the city, including a spectacular vista of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan beyond. On the fourth side, the columns flank the doorway to the rest of the condo.

“‘When you’re in there, you feel like you’re on top of the city,’ McCormick said.

“‘They made it the second wow,’ McCormick said, after the wow of the historical observatory room. ‘You’re sitting there surrounded by architecture,’ she said. That’s not only the skyscrapers, a mix of historical and modern, on four sides, but the ornamentation on the pergola overhead.

“‘We priced it where the market is,’ McCormick said. Their price is more than a million dollars below the $4.75 million that a developer was asking for it in 2013 after finishing the space that was left mostly raw by a previous development firm that began converting the tower to condos in the 1990s.” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 12/6/23)

“In 1898, Montgomery Ward built a tower next to its warehouse on Michigan Avenue as its new headquarters. At 394 feet and 22 stories, it was the tallest building in the city at the time, and it would retain that title until the Wrigley Building was completed in 1922. The building itself was likened to a ‘busy beehive.’ Those visiting the building could go up to the observation tower to get a view of Chicago. Atop the tower was a sculpture called Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce. It was similar to a gilded weathervane sculpture of the goddess Diana on top of the Agricultural Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition. A third similar statue, called The Spirit of Progress, would find its home in Montgomery Ward’s next headquarters. Today, the building at 6 North Michigan Avenue, now condominiums, looks quite different from the original structure. In the 1920s, additional floors were added. The pyramid portion of the tower (along with the sculpture) was removed in 1947, shortening the building to 282 feet.” (WTTW Chicago)

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

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