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Hotel Monaco in Chicago

The Hotel Monaco which opened in 1999 was originally built as a hat factory for the D.B. Fisk & Company in 1912. Daniel Brainard Fisk was born in Upton, Massachusetts in 1817. He came to Chicago in 1853 where he developed the largest wholesale millinery business in the United States. After the original Fisk building burned to the ground in the Chicago Fire of 1877, D.B. Fisk moved to a six-story building on the site where the Marshall Field Annex Building is now located. When Marshall Field wanted to construct the present Annex, they built the 13-story D.B. Fisk building at South Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue in 1912. The architect was George L. Harvey who designed the Mt. Sinai Synagogue (now the Community Bible Fellowship), the Goulden Chapel addition to the Grace Episcopal Church, the Desmond Theater, Knights of the Maccabees, White's Art Hall and provided supervision of the Carnegie Library and the Michigan National Bank.

Hotel Monico"Fiskhats" were manufactured and marketed from this D.B. Fisk & Company building until 1958 when it was sold to the Oxford House organization. Oxford House runs group homes for recovering alcoholics and substance abusers. In its simplest form, an Oxford House provides a democratically operated, self-supporting and drug free home. By 2010, the total number of Oxford Houses increased to 1,458 with a total of 11,392 Oxford Recovery Beds. In 1998, Kimpton acquired the D.B. Fisk building from Oxford House and converted it into the hip and quirky Hotel Monaco. After a $3 million guestroom renovation in 2011, the Monaco provides amenities that are unique and one-of-a-kind.

Here's how Kimpton's publicity department describes the renovation:

For the room refresh, renowned interior designer Susan Caruso blends a bold, yet modern flair, including a collection of objects that nod to the world traveler. A modernized steamer trunk nightstand in rich earth tones displays a red Moroccan lamp…. Cream and gridlines of gold set off the turquoise bed throw and skirting, while refreshing blue and green shapes dance across a festive boudoir pillow.

Monaco Chicago is home to the Tranquility Suite, a lavish two-room suite which encourages unreserved relaxation with its peaceful design, soothing textures, serene colors, and restful amenities such as in-room massage rollers, sound machines, sleep masks and towel warmers. 

A French deco-inspired look contributes to this hotel's travel theme, as do the rooms named for international destinations such as Tokyo and Paris. The hotel is pet-friendly and will even supply your room a pet goldfish-in-a-bowl upon request. Round starburst dressing mirrors are a unique touch in the brightly colored guestrooms, where turndown is accompanied by such unusual amenities as lottery tickets or Pixy Stix candy.

Excerpted from Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi

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About Stanley Turkel

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Public Profile

Stanley Turkel, CMHS is a New York-based hotel consultant specializing in hotel-related expert witness and franchising services. He was designated as the 2015 and 2014 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, an official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. To order his books, Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry; Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York; Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi; Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi; and Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf, go to stanleyturkel.com and click on "books."

Turkel can be reached at stanturkel@aol.com or (917) 628-8549.