Sullivan Center Iron Restoration Shoot

Posted by Director Mark Richard Smith on November 24th, 2008

Today we had the great opportunity to film some of Sullivan’s most renowned ornamentation being restored at a warehouse near downtown Chicago.

Last June, we were allowed to go behind the scenes of the former Carson, Pirie, Scott store and film the removal of tons of cast iron ornamentation as it was being removed from the building’s facade. One of Chicago’s greatest architectural gems, the old Carson’s store at State and Madison Streets is in the process of being redeveloped as a multi-use office, retail and educational complex now called Sullivan Center. The ornamental ironwork that clad the first three floors of the building is some of Sullivan’s most recognizable and priceless ornamentation, and its restoration is a massive and extremely sensitive undertaking for the developer, the architect and the general contractor. One hundred and fifty tons of ornamental panels, window frames, kick plates and spandrels have been carefully catalogued before being stripped of countless layers of paint, reconditioned and primed for replacement in the first half of next year.

The footage we collected will show how Sullivan’s work is being cared for today in contrast to the period of neglect, abuse and destruction it suffered in the late twentieth century. Even in this age of preservation awareness, three Sullivan buildings in Chicago were lost in the last three years to fire, including the famed Pilgrim Baptist Church, originally the KAM Synagogue.

Our deepest thanks to Joseph Freed & Associates, Harboe Architects and Berglend Construction for making this filming possible.