History

33 East Congress Building was built in 1925-26 by noted Chicago architect, Alfred S. Alschuler, who designed the 1927 Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The seven-story brick and terra cotta “Congress-Wabash Building” was commissioned by Ferdinand W. Peck, Jr., a real estate developer, and initially housed a bank, offices, and recreation rooms that included dozens of pool tables. A national billiards championship was held here in 1938. By the 1940s, the building was known by the name of its major tenant, the Congress Bank. In the 1980s it became the home of MacCormac College. Colombia College leased space in the building starting in 1997 and purchased the structure in 1999. It currently houses administrative offices, classroom space and the college’s radio station.


Description

The former Congress Bank Building is a seven story reinforced concrete frame structure. On its principal facades, facing Congress Parkway and Wabash Street, it is faced with terra cotta in an off-white faux marble glaze on its first two floors, and yellow brick with terra cotta detailing on its third through seventh floors. It is crowned by a cornice that appears to be pressed metal. The other two elevations are faced with common brick.

Overall, it would be difficult to see the building as having a distinct style. The classical revival details on the façade are called “Italian Renaissance” in the only published reference to this building, an advertisement in the Chicago Central Business and Office Building Directory for 1929. This attribution owes its inspiration to the modest scale of the ornament, which is reminiscent of that found on Northern Italian buildings of the 1400s. Terra cotta trim is used for window sills on the upper floors, and the piers between every pair of windows have simplified classical capitals in terra cotta under a pressed metal cornice.


Quick Facts

  • Name: Columbia College Congress Campus
  • Address: 33 East Congress Parkway
  • Size: 14 feet x 165 feet, 7 stories
  • Architect: Alfred S. Alschuler, 1925-1926
  • Original Name: Congress-Wabash Bank
  • Subsequent Names:
    • Congress Bank Building
    • Peck Building
    • Congress-Wabash Building
  • Acquired by College: 1997
  • Original Building Type: Office
  • Style: Renaissance Revival

Information taken from the 2005 Campus Preservation Plan.