Bay Windows from the Henry B. Babson House

In an ironic reversal of roles, Louis H. Sullivan’s 1908 design for the Henry B. Babson House in Riverside, Illinois displayed influences from the contemporary work of his former disciple, Frank Lloyd Wright. This unusual twist of architectural history is dramatically told in the house’s strongly geometric leaded glass. Much of the detailing of the house was executed by another of Sullivan’s gifted assistants, George Grant Elmslie, who himself went on to a distinguished career in Prairie School architecture. Most of the windows from the Babson House were assumed to have been lost after its 1960 demolition. This is one of many instances where Stuart Grannen rediscovered “lost” items — in this case a stash of windows hidden away for over forty years by someone who did a last-minute rescue during demolition. ­—Tim Samuelson

Louis Sullivan 1856–1924

Louis H. Sullivan, born in 1856, became known as the “Father of Skyscrapers” for his contributions to the modern Chicago skyline. He began his architectural training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and apprenticed as a draftsman for the Boston architect Frank Furness, but was soon drawn to Chicago’s building boom and moved to the city with his family in 1873.

After returning from study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Sullivan was hired by Chicago-based architect Dankmar Adler as a draftsman in 1879. Deeply impressed with the creative designs of Sullivan, Adler made him a full-time partner in 1881. It was this partnership that created some of the most pioneering and prolific buildings in Chicago including the Wainwright Building, the Schiller Building, the Auditorium Building, and the James Charnley House. However, it was the Chicago Stock Exchange, built at the height of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, which was undoubtedly the magnum opus of the pair. The interior of the building was decorated with lavish organic designs inspired by the flora of the prairie landscape—later influencing apprentice and protégé Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Auction Results Louis Sullivan