Chicago’s Shoreline Motels – North
by Patrick Steffes


Courtesy LeRoy Blommaert, Edgewater Historical Society

Original Shoreline Motel sales material of are exceedingly rare. In this brochure for The Tides, provided by the Edgewater Historical Society, this property is described as “more like a Caribbean Luxury Resort” than a mere motel on North Sheridan Road. This brochure is useful in that it not only highlights the appeal of staying near the Edgewater Beach Hotel, but the variety of activities available to guests nearby.


Chuckman Collection

Of the 13 Shoreline Motels built in Chicago between 1955 and 1965, the former Sheridan-Chase (now Super 8) is one of only two properties still in use in 2012 as a motel. Prior to major exterior alterations, this motel was, along with the long-demolished former Tides Motel further south on Sheridan Road, a relatively rare example of a glass-walled International Style mid-rise motel in Chicago. For its time, the Sheridan-Chase was also heavy on amenities, including “wake-up coffee in every room”, balconies for select rooms, a rooftop sun deck, and available kitchenette units.


Introduction

As examined in a previous Forgotten Chicago article The Miami of Canada: Chicago’s Shoreline Motels, construction of motels in Chicago began within a few years of a 1953 change to the city’s zoning ordinance.1 On Chicago’s North Side, from 7300 N (Chase Avenue) to 4800 N (Lawrence Avenue), six of these Shoreline Motels were built in less than five years.

The 1950s completion of Lake Shore Drive north from Foster Avenue to Hollywood Avenue was cited by many of these motels as an amenity to guests in allowing easy access to downtown for Chicago business and leisure visitors. This extension also spurred the construction of numerous high rise apartment (and later, condominium) buildings along the northern lakefront.

It can be argued that in later decades, this roadway extension ironically led to the end of most of the Shoreline Motels examined in this article. As thousands of new permanent residents moved to the North Side near the lakefront, the value of land under these motels increased greatly, undermining the financial viability of most of these motels.


Left: Architectural Forum, September 1930 Right: Chuckman Collection

Four of the six Shoreline Motels on the North Side were located adjacent to, or across the street from, the fabled Edgewater Beach Hotel. The shorter, ‘X’ shaped portion of this resort opened in June 1916, with the taller tower opening in February 1924.2 The extension of Lake Shore Drive in the 1950s north to Hollywood destroyed the resort’s extensive beachfront access and amenities, and moved the Lake Michigan shoreline east by about half a mile. After multiple owners and a long period of decline, the Edgewater Beach closed abruptly in late 1967. Demolition began in late 1969.3

The built Shoreline Motels on the North Side are listed below in geographic order from north to south. Also included is information on an unbuilt motel that would have been the only Shoreline Motel built directly on Lake Michigan; this project was stopped due to strong Rogers Park community opposition.


The Motels

A long-time landmark for thousands of daily drivers up and down Sheridan Road, the Sheridan-Chase as originally built had a nearly all glass exterior, with cantilevered balconies on the southern face of the building. As of this writing, it is not known when (or why) this motel was so drastically altered from its original design by W. B. Cohan Associates.


Evanston Chamber of Commerce Brochure, 1965

The Sheridan-Chase is curiously referred to as both a Motor Hotel and a Motel in the same 1965 advertisement


Left: Wyndham Hotel Group Right: 1959 Illinois Bell Classified Telephone Directory

The heavily altered, but still operating, former Sheridan-Chase Motel, now Super 8 Chicago (left), and a Yellow Pages advertisement soon after its opening (right). The original overhanging rooflines above the first and fourth floors can still be seen today on the east and south sides of the building.


Patrick Steffes

This alley view of the former Sheridan-Chase in August 2012 shows where former balconies were later enclosed (image at right). As of this writing, no original renderings or photos have been found of this side of the building.



The Tropicana, known prior to its 2005 demolition as the Lakeside Motel, is the only demolished Shoreline Motel that has never been replaced with another development and remains an empty lot as of this writing (due to a condominium project that never came to fruition). Featuring a colorful and decorative facade, the Tropicana would not have seemed out of place on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach.


Realty & Building, October 10, 1959

A 1959 article announcing the groundbreaking for the Tropicana. This motel would bring the “Latin-American style” and a jolt of south-of-the-border glamor for nearly 50 years to the Edgewater community.


Ecology of Absence / Preservation Research Office

The former Tropicana Motel was remarkably intact prior to its demolition in 2005. Architects Shayman & Salk gave the Tropicana an unusual amount of detail, including little-seen (for the harsh Midwest climate, at least), intricate mosaic work and wood panelling underneath portions of the eaves.


Patrick Steffes

Photographed in January 2012, remnants of the former Tropicana include the outline of the former foundation (left), steps to the former office (center), and the former motel sign still advertising the unbuilt Bluewater 5440 condo project (right), years after this project stalled.



A note about the number of listed rooms in the Tides, Sands and Sands addition (later the Chicago Lodge Motel):

The Sands and a later Sands addition were built by the same developer (Homer Realty) and the same architect, Frank Lapasso5. The Tides Motel was also built by the same architect, but by a concern reported at the time as Foster Lake Realty6. At some point soon after, the Sands and Tides appear to have come under the same ownership, as both would be marketed under the Tides name by the time of publication of the Illinois Bell Classified Telephone Directory in December 19597. Thereafter, the Sands name disappeared, just four years after Chicago’s first motel opened.

The Tides Motel would thereafter be advertised as having 201 rooms, not the 126 rooms announced at the beginning of its construction. Because they were produced before the marketing of these three buildings under one name occurred, some of the original press and marketing material lists shown here show different numbers of rooms for these three separate buildings. Additionally, the number of rooms for the [original] Tides may have changed prior to its completion.

To add to the confusion, all three of the motels discussed below were later demolished for two different iterations of a Dominick’s grocery store. The Tides and Sands were demolished in the late 1970s for the first Dominick’s to occupy the corner of Foster and Sheridan.8 The Sands addition (later Chicago Lodge) was demolished in 2009 for the second (current) Dominick’s on the same corner.9


Realty & Building, October 31, 1959

October 1959 article announcing construction of the Tides Motel



Top left: 1960 Illinois Bell Classified Telephone Directory Top right: Chuckman Collection Bottom left and right: Edgewater Historical Society, no dates

Period Yellow Pages ad, postcard detail, and a postcard showing rare interior and exterior images of the Tides Motel, which stood on the east side of Sheridan Road for less than 20 years. An enlarged view of the colorful lobby is shown at lower right. The heated swimming pool was prominently mentioned in Tides Motel marketing, although it is not known if many guests would have gone swimming in an outdoor pool in Chicago in January.

Located immediately north of the Sands Motel (discussed below) and just south of the Edgewater Beach Hotel, the Tides was in an area of Edgewater containing four Shoreline Motels. Announced in the pictured October 1959 article and opened by 1960, little is known about this property in later years, and additional images and marketing material of this structure have been elusive.

As mentioned above, the Tides (as well as the Sands, below) was demolished in the late 1970s for the first iteration of a Dominick’s grocery store, which was recently rebuilt. Due to the design of the new Dominick’s, much of the land the Tides stood on is now a vacant lot.



Chicago’s first motel, The Sands, opened on December 3, 1955


Left: Chuckman Collection Right: 1958 Illinois Bell Chicago Classified Telephone Directory

Although the Sands was reportedly one of “America’s most fabulous motels,” as is often the case with advertising illustrations, the size of the pool (right) was wildly exaggerated in comparison to its actual size. It also may have been a stretch to say that one could drive from Sheridan and Foster to the heart of the Loop in just 8 minutes, even in the late 1950s. Seen in the above postcard at left, Peter Pan was a local restaurant chain with an outlet in the Sands upon opening.


Chuckman Collection

Enjoying their visits to Chicago’s shoreline perhaps a little too much, the Sands Motel patrons on the left seem barely able to sit up. This postcard is useful, however, in that it shows not only the smartly dressed waiter and poolside cabanas of the short-lived (in name, at least) Sands, but also the colorful facade and the upper two floors of the Tides Motel (at right in image at left), located immediately to the north of the Sands. A period matchbook from the Sands is seen at right.


Edgewater Historical Society, no dates

Home initially to an outlet of local restaurant chain Peter Pan (portion of menu at left), the Sands is pictured in a little-seen postcard at right. Likely printed before the neighboring Tides and Sands Motel addition were built, this postcard also shows the neighboring Saddle & Cycle Club, lakefront park, and the recently completed North Lake Shore Drive extension.


Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1955

Just weeks after the Sands opened, the land to the north and east of these motels were purchased by an unidentified group of buyers10. Almost two years later, in November 1957, the Sands announced it was building a similarly-styled 60 room addition for this motel that opened in 195811. More importantly, it was reported that these new owners had purchased land to the north and east of their existing property in order to stop competing chains from operating adjacent to the Edgewater Beach Hotel;12 by 1960 the parcel to the north of the original Sands would open as the Tides Motel (see above).

In a 1955 Chicago Tribune article announcing this property sale (partial excerpt at right), it was noted that “The proposed sale would block a reported move by another group to buy land from the club for a competing motel”13. It was also noted in the same article that the original 1.39 acres of land for existing Sands Motel had been sold previously by the Saddle & Cycle Club for $150,000 cash, but that the additional 1.61 acres north and east of the Sands had been sold for an undisclosed, but “much higher” price14.




Left: Realty & Building, November 2, 1957 Right: Google Street View, April 2009

A landmark for over 50 years for motorists driving to or from Lake Shore Drive along Foster Avenue, the addition to the Sands Motel (later operating independently as the Chicago Lodge Motel), hosted its last guests on December 31, 200815 and was demolished in 2009 for the second Dominick’s to be built on the corner of Sheridan and Foster.

The most recent Shoreline Motel to be demolished, the Chicago Lodge Motel came down at the end of the previous decade. As was the case with many of these former Shoreline Motel properties, the value of the land itself favored uses other than a small motel occupying a comparatively large parcel of land at a high-traffic intersection close to Lake Michigan, and the land it occupied would become part of the second Dominick’s to be be built at this corner. Fortunately, at least two rather lyrical videos of the motel’s exterior in its final years are available as of this writing:


YouTube, eugene10

A good overview of the exterior of the motel (screen capture at left) may be found here.

To see the Chicago Lodge and Foster Avenue during a snowstorm on December 15, 2007 (image at right), click here.




Left: Realty & Building, January 2, 1959 Right: 1960 Illinois Bell Classified Telephone Directory

The Mid-Century Modern architecture of the Holiday Lodge (later Holiday Inn) remains almost completely intact in 2012, although this building has not hosted motel guests for more than a third of a century. Visitors today to the corner of Lawrence and Marine can easily recognize the original design of the former motel, and the outline of the former outdoor swimming pool. This once-deluxe Shoreline Motel is currently the Salvation Army’s Brandecker Center, opened in 197816.


Patrick Steffes, January 2012

Few neighbors on foot or driving past the high-traffic corner of Marine Drive and Lawrence Avenue likely remember when this low-rise building was the only Shoreline Motel facing lakefront parkland. At left is the hiding-in-plain-sight former stone base of the long-gone Holiday Inn “Great Sign” in use when this motel operated as a Holiday Inn. At right is the former main entrance of this motel, located on the rear (west side) of the building, which faces a parking lot.


Unbuilt Sand & Sea, 7777 North Sheridan Road, 1958

As fantastic as some of the built Shoreline Motels were, it is intriguing to consider what the only motel to be proposed directly on Lake Michigan might have looked like had it been built. Announced with little notice on page 30 in a real estate trade magazine in October 195717, this project was soon met with strong opposition from Rogers Park residents, and was suddenly cancelled by July 195818.


Upper left: Realty & Building, October 26, 1957 Lower left: Realty & Building, May 24, 1958 Right: Chicago Tribune, July 24, 1958

The only known Shoreline Motel planned to be built directly on Lake Michigan, the Sand and Sea would have been built in the farthest northeast corner of Chicago’s city limits. Strong community opposition quickly killed this project, and led to the establishment of the current Juneway Terrace Park (image below)19. As of this writing, it is not known if any renderings of this “luxury motel” were prepared by the final architects of the project, Shayman & Salk, who were also the architects of the Tropicana.


Juneway Terrace Park in July 2011, Serhii Chrucky

We are less than halfway through exploring the forgotten history of Chicago’s Shoreline Motels. The third article in this series will examine three long-demolished Shoreline Motels in the central area, from Ontario Street in Streeterville to 13th Street in the South Loop.


Acknowledgements

For nearly 25 years, the Edgewater Historical Society has worked to document the history of this fascinating, historic, and ever-changing Chicago neighborhood. Many thanks go to the EHS staff, notably LeRoy Blommaert and Robert Remer, who have been most helpful in my research of Shoreline Motels on the north side, and whose collection contains a stunning collection of rare objects related to the hospitality industry in Edgewater. Information and upcoming events for the Edgewater Historical Society may be found here.


Sources

Note: This article was revised on October 3, 2012 to correct the opening dates of the Edgewater Beach Hotel’s addition, courtesy of LeRoy Blommaert of the Edgewater Historical Society. This revision also corrects the spelling of Mr. Bloommaert’s name.

1. First Chicago Motel, The Sands, Opens 90 Rooms. Realty & Building, December 10, 1955, pg. 3.

2. Ripples, The Edgewater Beach Hotel Magazine, Summer 1930, pg. 2

3. Ibid.

4. http://www.edgevillebuzz.com/uncategorized/bluewater-5440-gets-approval-more-condos-planned (accessed June 14, 2012)

5. Sands Motel (60 unit addition). Realty & Building, November 2, 1957, pg. 26.

6. Tides Motel Announced. Realty & Building, October 31, 1959, pg. 6.

7. Illinois Bell Classified Telephone Directory for Chicago. Chicago: The Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation with permission of the Illinois Bell Telephone Company, December 1959.

8. Dominick’s Food Store Financed. Realty & Building, August 5, 1978, pg. 1.

9. http://www.uptownupdate.com/2010/10/fostersheridan-dominicks-to-open.html (accessed July 4, 2012).

10. Cycle Club Contracts for Sale of Tract. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Dec 31, 1955; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1987), pg. A5 (accessed February 8, 2012).

11. Sands Motel (60 unit addition). Realty & Building, November 2, 1957, pg. 26.

12. Cycle Club Contracts for Sale of Tract. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Dec 31, 1955; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1987), pg. A5 (accessed February 8, 2012).

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. http://www.edgevillebuzz.com/uncategorized/chicago-lodge-is-closed (accessed June 11, 2012).

16. http://www.salarmychicago.org/125/history.htm (accessed July 18, 2012).

17. Motel and Paving (40 units). Realty & Building, October 26, 1957, pg. 30.

18. Drop Plans for Lake Front Motel, Strong, James. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Jul 24, 1958; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune (1849-1988), pg. N1 (accessed May 29, 2012).

19. http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/Juneway-Beach-Park/ (accessed September 1, 2012).


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