The Fisher Building.

posted in: Chicago, Paean 14
La Fisher... Be still my beating heart. Image: Wikipedia.
La Fisher… Be still my beating heart. Image: Wikipedia.


Remember when I moved 50,281 times in two years?

Fine. I moved five times. It felt like many thousand more times.

And hey, remember back in D.C. when I thought I wanted to try being a writing tutor for high school kids and I aced the interviews and the tests but I didn’t pass the background check because of all that moving around??

Actually, I don’t believe I did tell you, but yeah, that happened. Oh, the poor woman who interviewed me. We were besties by the time I left her office, so I can just imagine how disappointed and weirded out she must’ve been when she read my background check report-thingy. I can see her, shaking her head, saying to her receptionist with a heavy sigh, “I just don’t get it, Cynthia. That nice woman. I wouldn’t ever have guessed she was on the lam. Guess you never can tell.”

Thunk. Recycle bin.

When I finally got back to Chicago — still not sure how I managed that — I swore I’d never leave again and I won’t, not ever. I belong to this city; Chicago belongs to me. So when I say I’ve been fantasizing about moving again, rest assured: I’m talking about moving across town, not across state lines.

‘Cuz there’s this one building.

The Fisher Building at 343 S. Dearborn Street.

It’s strange to have a crush on a 20-story building. It’s hard to explain to one’s friends and family, especially one’s mother. But this is love. The Fischer is my heart’s delight. What’s not to love? It was commissioned by Lucius Fisher, the famous paper magnate. (I love paper!) And who built the place, you ask? Why none other than D.H. Burnham & Co., back in 1896. (I love 1896!) If you know anything about architecture in America — especially Chicago — at the turn of the 20th century, you know ol’ Danny Burnham was kind of The Dude. (I love Dudes!)

The Fisher’s spindly, golden, neo-Gothic beauty takes my breath away every time I’m near it and I try to be near it a lot. I squeak with glee every time I see the sun glinting off its broad windows; the whole structure looks like it’s beaming golden light. And oh, the facade. There are extravagant carvings in the terra cotta: aquatic creatures (fish, crabs, etc.), eagles, dragons, and other mythical creatures! Could you die?

I want lots and lots of money. Because there aren’t condos in the Fisher; only apartments. And they’re like $2,500/month for a two-bedroom — and at this point in my life, if I’m paying $2,500/month for a floor and a roof, I’d like to be slowly owning that floor and that roof, you know? So this is all just a fantasy.

Lord, I want to live in the Fisher Building. Because if I lived in the Fisher Building, everything in my life would be perfect. Nothing bad could happen. I’d be The Woman I’ve Always Wanted To Be. I’d be an adult, someone who’d never eat a liiiitle more Red Velvet Cake Ben & Jerry’s ice cream while I’m blogging, even though I put it away 30 minutes ago like a virtuous person.

I do not live in the Fisher Building, though, and I can’t, probably not ever, and I am not virtuous.

But I can gaze.

14 Responses

  1. Jackie
    | Reply

    I bet the apartments are gorgeous, vaulted ceilings large rooms. A girl can and should always dream. It is a beautiful building.

  2. Jan White
    | Reply

    Hmm. Do you draw? Watercolors? How about a photo collage with your favorite elements…just a small one, hung somewhere you’ll see it every day and smile while you plan a Fisher quilt?

  3. Suzan
    | Reply

    Actually Mary I really understand this post. There is a house in our town that I love. Not huge just a cute little house. Every time I drive past it I imagine living in it.

  4. Mary Lou Maloni
    | Reply

    Back when it was an office building I worked there , 1976 to 1979. It was interesting for sure. We could open windows – but being next to the L not a good idea. The elevator was old old school with an operator – couldn’t push the button yourself. The ladies room was on the 9th floor. I worked on the 11th floor. No need for a step machine when you make that trek a few times a day. It had doors wid enough for hoop skirts and a fainting couch.

    • Mary
      | Reply

      WOW WOW WOW WOWOW WWOWOWOWOW! You’re a celebrity to me, Mary Lou!!!!!! Thank you so much for this — made my morning. WOW!!!!

      • Mary Lou Maloni
        | Reply

        Thank you. Many many years later my husband worked for one of the construction contractors when it was converted to condos. You know insulation between the outside wall and inside walls to keep the warm in. — they found clothes, shoes, newspapers, rags, blankets. In the 1890s this was recycling. – no food or anything wet just the fiber type stuff. Needless to say it’s all been removed and replaced with what is commercially used today

  5. Barbara
    | Reply

    The Fisher Building is a beautiful building, and oh, by the way, I love paper too!!!! I love the start of a new school year, so much to choose from, and much at discount. I love, love paper, but not as much as I love fabric!!

  6. Mary
    | Reply

    After visiting my son at Northwestern and my sister’s family in Chicago over the years, I also grew to really like Chicago. My niece has access to a corporate apartment downtown, so we were able to stay right down by the river and just wander about and enjoy this magnificent city. I’m an advocate for visiting our metropolitan areas with the same strategy we use when we visit Paris or Rome or Madrid. Pretend you are in a foreign country and just soak it all up! So happy for you to live there.

  7. Lucile Lapin
    | Reply

    Maybe you could make a quilt wall hanging from the elegant facade. II can see why you love it. On my bucket list. Is a architecture tour of Chicago.

  8. Kerry Leach
    | Reply

    You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true? Thanks Mary – I have the tune going crazy in my head – I may just blurt it out and make my husband happy. Not! More like reach for the earplugs!

    1896, a good vintage. Great building. Now get planning!


  9. Lindsey
    | Reply

    Did you go to the Open House? Is that someone’s library I see through the upper windows?
    You have reat taste!

  10. Gina
    | Reply

    In your busy life, if you ever wanted to tutor kids in writing, look up 826Chicago…..…..MY son in law used to work there…..a happening place, and a lot of fun.

  11. Linda Crandall
    | Reply

    It occurs to me that if you lived in the building you wouldn’t be looking at the building as much as you are now You would probably miss the view you now have in your present living quarters.

    Just a thought.

  12. Wanda Rains
    | Reply

    Mary, your life is so full of loves. That’s a good life right there.

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