Chicago Athletic Association in Chicago

Photo of Chicago Athletic Association in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Chicago Athletic Association in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Chicago Athletic Association

12 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60603
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Quick Facts
  • January 11, 2006: It was announced that the Chicago Athletic Association would sell this building to a group that planned to renovate it and re-open it as a boutique hotel.
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Your Thoughts

There are 18 comments.

  Believe it was Fathers Day weekend 1952, Doris Day was the entertainer for Fathers and Sons. As I recall the show was in the 8th floor dining room.

George Wright - Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 @ 9:03pm  

  My father took swimming lessons there in the 20s'. There are claims that Johnny Weismueller was the instructor their at the time. I am not sure if that is true or not. However, my father was trying out for the Olympic trials when WWII broke out and he left college to join the army. Ironic, he was place on PT rescue boats to swim out and save pilots ejected from their planes. He was always a great swimmer and enjoyed swimming until his tragic death in 1958. I look forward to seeing the remodeled IAC in the future.

barb m - Friday, March 3rd, 2017 @ 8:18am  

  This is in response to Chris' request for the "12 South Michigan" sandwich. It was a favorite of my husband's, that and the "Dirty Snowball" (coconut covered ice-cream).The sandwich was made by placing white bread in a shallow baking pan. Turkey and ham slices were placed on the bread, followed by chicken gravy and mushrooms. This was topped with cheddar cheese and heated until cheese melted. It was served open-faced.I first went to the CAA with my husband, a member, in 1965. I do not know when my husband, Robert Crawford, became a member but he remained a member until his death in 2001. I was then given a membership and remained a member until the closing day. There is a story about the Chicago Athletic Association which was printed in the Chief Engineer Magazine, published by Fanning Communications in Crestwood, Illinois. The pictures were taken and story written during the last week of operation as the great club that it was. I am sure that you could access it by contacting the publisher.

Madelyn Crawford - Saturday, September 17th, 2016 @ 10:29pm  

  In the 60's my father would take us on Sat. for swim lessons,we would have lunch an a movie,and my father would pick us up in the afternoon.Also remember having Sunday dinner in the dining room with family and meeting Mayor Daley on many occasions.Such wonderful memeories!

Mary AnneLund - Sunday, July 31st, 2016 @ 7:20pm  

  My father, Peter M. Cooke was a member in 1960's. What I remember is it was all men and my mother and I had to use the Madison street entrance. We always came down for Christmas, first going to Marshall Fields to see Santa then to the CAA for a special dinner. I work next door today and have gone inside the new hotel. It's beautiful and has many of the original features. If you're in town you must go by and see the place.

Cynthia Cooke - Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 @ 5:55pm  

  does anyone have the recipe for the "12 South Michigan" open-faced sandwich? It was always my dad's favorite at the CAA...and I last had it there in 1971. Thanks!!

Chris - Thursday, February 19th, 2015 @ 8:12pm  

  My father Robert Eckman was a member of the I.A.C thru the fifties and the sixties. My brother Scott and I were in enrolled in the junior program and every Saturday we would be at the club training in swimming and gymnastics. I earned my first trophy there when I was five years old! What a wonderful experience that was, the club even then, was a true athletic and social club which harkened back to the turn of the century. When you entered, you were greeted and your name was pinned on the register, We trained from eight am till noon, splitting our time in the gym on the 12th floor and the pool in the basement. We would compete every year for the coveted John Behr and Bill Bachrach awards which were presented during a banquet in the main dining room. That's where I met Johnny Weissmuller! I was probably seven or eight then. We used to sometimes roam the building, checking the Library, the bowling alley, the billiards floor and remember back then it was 12 floors, so there was plenty to explore for a eight year old.... I remember sitting in the overstuffed chairs, overlooking Michigan Ave. waiting for the car to be brought around. I would love to hear from anyone who also involved with the club back then, my number was J-22. Feel free to contact me at What stories we can tell!

Mark Eckman - Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 @ 5:30pm  

  I worked as a Bell boy at the Chicago Athletic Association at 12 South Michigan Avenue from 1944-1945. I was attending first and second year high school and rode the street car to downtown every day after school. I worked the 4-12 shift.A person staying there had no need to leave the building for it contained a library on one floor, a bar and restaurant on the second floor, a full size basket ball court and a oval running track just above the court, a swimming pool, with steam room and a full time masseuse, a racquet courtand on the top floor a bowling alley. One day it was my turn for the next guest that walked through the front door and that person was none other than my favorite radio show star that starred Charlie McCarthy.The Bell Captain handed me the room key and told me to take Mr. Bergen up to his room. Yep It was Edgar Bergen and he told me that Charlie was in one of his suit cases.Mr. Bergen was very congenial and when he offered to tip me I asked for his autograph instead because my classmates would never believe my story.

Mulligan - Thursday, March 13th, 2014 @ 12:34pm  

  I lived at the IAC while we restructured Chevway Corp at 500 Michigan Ave. Feb - June 1968. "Wilson" waited on our dinner table and a fine waiter-gentleman he was.The club mirrored the best of athletic clubs in the U.S. such as Boston and the NYAC. I recall with great regret walking out onto N. Mich the morning after ML King was killed only to be met by an ILL NATGUARD APC.The fires and rioting in Western Chicago was everywhere. The Democratic Convention was down the street. Dogs & All. A very tragic chapter in American History

Bill L - Saturday, May 18th, 2013 @ 9:42pm  

  My great great Grandfather, William H. Burke's company worked on this building and I believe would have laid the flooring. There is a plaque dedicated to him under the seahorse mosaic. I look forward to seeing the finished building when it reopens. How wonderful that it will live on.

Kathleen - Saturday, December 8th, 2012 @ 6:47pm  

  I worked there around the same time as the commenter below, and I also would like to work in that building again. The architecture inside outshines the facade, especially the lobby which is done in marble with a mosaic floor, and the 2nd and 8th floors, each done in hand-carved hardwoods.

Jim B. - Sunday, September 30th, 2012 @ 9:43pm  

  Whoever used to work, was a member or used to hang out at this club please contact me at or find me in Facebook...I am looking for some information about the club during the 60s.Thanks a lot

Sougles Stergios - Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 @ 9:04pm  

  Vic K. You are thinking of the IAC building which is across the street from the Art Institute and is now offices and dorm space for the Art Institute. Another dramatic old building from the "club" era.

Ted Mandigo - Friday, May 27th, 2011 @ 3:34pm  

  My Dad was Chicago born in 1905 (deceased-1997) & it seems to me that he had told me that back in his day, this club was named "Illinois Athletic Club"...the #1 exclusive men's club in Chicago. He worked there when he was approx. 13 yrs. old & if my recollection is correct, he told me that he poured beverages & served cigars to the patrons/members. He had a wooden cigar box with the club logo (full name & the IAC logo) stamped/embossed into the wooden lid, the full name embossed into the sides, a tax (?) sticker, unsealed, but still attached, depicting the cost of 25 cents & the underside of the box has more embossing that gives warnings that the cigars should not being sold for under 8 cents each or more than 15 cents each & once the seal was broken, it should not be used for storing cigars, etc. without penalty of law. Also. it reads that the cigars were manufactured exclusively for the IAC. When I was little, I would store my charms & marbles inside of it. My Dad let me keep it. I still have that cigar box & keep it as a wee bit of Chicago history. While I still reside in Chicago, until I read this BLOG, I was unaware of the bldg.being so called abandoned. I sincerely hope that it is revamped to it's original splendor.

Vic K. - Saturday, November 13th, 2010 @ 6:56pm  

  My father was a member of this club when we lived in the Chicago area in the mid fifties. On Saturdays we would dress up and go into town and the the club for lunch. During a recent visit to Chicago I happened upon it after visiting Millennium Park. What a surprise to find it abandoned. I peeking in the door remembered the beautifully designed floor and the rich wood in the lobby. I think a boutique hotel would be perfect for this beautiful building.

Deborah M. - Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 @ 5:57am  

  I walked by this magnificent old building today. What a shame it has fallen into such disrepair. I hope someone can find an economically viable way to resurrect this beautiful landmark building.

Dr. Glenn DeWeirdt - Sunday, February 28th, 2010 @ 5:04pm  

  I worked at the CAA for over 21 years, and am still in disbelief that a segment of members just let this magnificant facility close because they were greedy! There were viable other options. I am so disheartened that it is now sitting vacant because the developers it was sold to have not been able to move forward. It is a magnificent building, and with some loving care and general updating, could once again be one of Chicago's most prestigous venues. I would LOVE to be able to work there again. It was a second home--the building, the members, the staff! And it has history and character.I hope someone does bring it back to life1

Marie Hertel - Friday, February 26th, 2010 @ 8:24pm  

  This was one of the finest and most exclusive men's clubs in the city. I spent many happy hours there, and was a full time resident for several years during the 1960's. It was certainly 5 stars for me at that time. As it is now, I don't know, but suspect it would be close if it is anywhere nea rlike it was 40 years ago and before. I was there a couple of years ago and it was just a shadow of what it once was ....but that was before the sale and revamping as a hotel. My wife and I are looking forward to a visit as soon as we can fit it in.

Joel Vandiver - Monday, February 16th, 2009 @ 12:41pm