Pickwick Stable in Chicago

Photo of Pickwick Stable in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Pickwick Stable
Formerly:22 East
Formerly:Pickwick Cafe
Formerly:Red Path Inn
Formerly:Colonel Abson's Chop House

22 East Jackson, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60604
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Text by Wayne Lorentz

This is our all-time favorite most unusual Chicago building. To the untrained eye, it looks like a dead-end alley. But in reality it's so much more. It is history. It is tragedy. And it is a great example of poor urban planning.

Official city records put the date of completion of this building at 1892. According to the Chicago Tribune, there was a stable at this location as early as 1857. The Trib traces its ownership back to Henry Horner, who was the grandfather of an Illinois governor by the same name. The stable eventually went through a series of ownership changes as various restaurants. While that happened, the city grew up around the building, and didn't only hem it in, it virtually obliterated it from the outside world. The building is actually 19 feet wide, and 19 feet deep, with a small portion that juts outward a few feet from the southwest corner. That is the part you see in the picture. It is also the only part of the building with outward facing windows since its neighboring building butt right up against it. They are so tightly spaced, that this former barn isn't visible on most satellite or aerial photographs.

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There are four comments.

  This was a very interesting Piece. My Great Grandfather owned a horse stable in Chicago in the Late 1800s. It was called I believe Belmont Stables,but I have never been able to find anything on it.Ive heard he leased horses to wells Fargo.

Jim Reilly - Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 @ 4:34pm  

  This is actually not the oldest building in the Loop, it's actually the Page Brothers Building on State Street by the Lake Street "El". That building was built in the early 1880s. Although, this Stable has been interestingly known to be a "horse stable" that the Pickwicks' owned in the 1890s, so that the horses had somewhere to rest before transporting people from one place to another. Today, a lot of people think that this is just another downtown alley, but it's not. This is a piece of Chicago's early history.

Brent Kampert - Monday, October 5th, 2009 @ 2:11pm  

  When I first had this building brought to my attention, in the early '60s, it was being used as a restaurant. I was told by an acquaintance that it was "the oldest building in the Loop." I've kicked myself ever since for not visiting the restaurant while it was still there, but it had a clubby look that wasn't very inviting to me. A few years ago it underwent extensive rehabbing, seemingly to become some kind of business establishment. It's anachronistic to call it "a great example of poor urban planning"âit's an urban leftover, a real estate accident that happened at a time when urban planning didn't have the wide popular following that it does nowadays.

Richard Sessions - Friday, October 17th, 2008 @ 11:14am  

  The Pickwick Stable is one such building. Even though it survived the Chicago Fire, it has not received the celebrity status of other similar buildings. Sure, it doesn't have the spirit of Holy Name Cathedral or the flair of the Old Water Tower, but Pickwick deserves recognition for something else -- being an anachronism in the middle of a metropolis.

Adrian Neff - Monday, August 4th, 2008 @ 9:46am