The Kiosk Sphinx
Date: December 01, 2010 12:00PM
Does anyone have any memories of the Kiosk Sphinx, formerly at 40th and Lake Park? I don't, because it was gone long before I was born. However, I came across a photo which unforunately didn't show it in great detail, so I was hoping that perhaps some of you would remember it or even have photos.
Web searching turned up very little, except this:
'Kiosk Sphinx was the name given to an unusual private museum and residence designed and built between 1928 and 1934 by eccentric Chicago millionare Washington Porter II. His family made their fortune by successfully transporting oranges across the country. An obsessive collector of art and antiquites, Porter largely had the building built from his own designs, although a professional architect was engaged to translate his ideas into working drawings. Built at the rear of his parent's old mansion on Lake Park Avenue, the unusual structure consisted of a combined residence and private museum for Porter's collections, as well as a 15 story metal-framed observation tower which was never given its complete stone cladding and fifteen foot illuminated glass sphinx at the very top Porter referred to this glass figure as the "Kiosk Sphinx" (i.e. the Kiosk's Sphinx) and gave this name to the entire complex. It also derived from Porter's interest in Egyptian antiquities which were among the treasures displayed in his private galleries.
Porter never had the opportunity to spend much time at his dream building. His financial resources were stretched by the project, and he was constantly being sued for unpaid debts and other legal difficulties. The building and much of the collection was largely abandoned, and a target of thieves and vandals until its demolition for a housing project in 1957.'
So, at one point, there were two private museums run by eccentric millionaires within eight blocks of each other (the George Harding House/Museum being the other). Weird.