RADIO: What’s That Building? General Richard L. Jones Armory

“Carvings of a Roman soldier, medieval knight, Native American warrior and World War I doughboy peer out from their posts around the edges of a mammoth limestone building in Washington Park.

“What’s That Building fan Mike Sykes knew that in 1970 the structure was renamed in honor of General Richard L. Jones,an African American who served in both World Wars, was a leader of the Illinois National Guard and was the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia.But Sykes wanted to know more — and it turns out there’s a lot more.

“Armories are essentially office and storage buildings for military units. But this particular armory is different. From its mammoth arena to its appearance in Spike Lee’s 2015 film Chiraq, it’s been a part of Chicago history for 88 years. And it’s still an active military headquarters. One of two Illinois National Guard units in the building — the 2nd Battalion 178th Infantry —is scheduled to ship out to Afghanistan this summer. The unit’s lineage includes the “Fighting Eighth,” the nation’s first all-black National Guard unit that formed in 1898 to fight in the Spanish-American War.

“Who designed it?
The armory was designed by the architecture firm Perkins, Chatten & Hammond, a short-lived firm (1929-33) that also designed the Northwest Tower at 2018 W. North Ave. Today, the Art Deco building is known as the Robey Hotel in Wicker Park. The lead architect, Dwight Perkins, had previously designed 40 Chicago public schools and helped organize the Cook County Forest Preserves.

“Who made the sculptures?
The breathtaking carvings — which include renderings of the original Fort Dearborn and the slogan “Facta Non Verba” (“Deeds, Not Words”) — are credited to Fred Torrey,whose work includes a war memorial at the Gettysburg battlefield and the sculptures on the Art Deco tower at 333 N. Michigan Ave. (Rodkin, 6/3/19)

Hear the full story at WBEZ Chicago 91.5

Morning Shift, What’s That Building? General Richard L. Jones Armory, Dennis Rodkin, WBEZ Chicago 91.5, 6/3/19 


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