Home Insurance Building

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Home Insurance Building
Home Insurance Building.JPG
General information
LocationChicago, United States
Coordinates41°52′47″N 87°37′55″W / 41.8796°N 87.6320°W / 41.8796; -87.6320Coordinates: 41°52′47″N 87°37′55″W / 41.8796°N 87.6320°W / 41.8796; -87.6320
Completed1885 [1]
RoofOriginally 138 feet (42.1 metres)
Top floorAfter addition of the final two floors – 180 feet (54.9 meters)
Technical details
Floor count10 (later 12)
Design and construction
ArchitectWilliam Le Baron Jenney

The Home Insurance Building was a skyscraper in Chicago, United States, designed by William Le Baron Jenney in 1884, for the Home Insurance Company in New York.[3] Completed a year later, the building is generally noted as the first tall building to be supported both inside and outside by a fireproof structural steel and metal frame, which included reinforced concrete.[4][5]

The building opened in 1885[1] and was demolished 46 years later in 1931.


The building was completed in 1885 in Chicago, Illinois, and was the first tall building to use structural steel in its frame,[6] but the majority of its structure was composed of cast and wrought iron. While the Ditherington Flax Mill was an earlier fireproof-metal-framed building and is sometimes considered to be the first skyscraper, it was only five stories tall.[7]

Because of the building's unique architecture and weight-bearing frame, it is considered the one of the world's first skyscrapers.[8] It had 10 stories and rose to a height of 138 ft (42.1 m)[9] In 1891, two floors were added.

The architect was William Le Baron Jenney. The building weighed only one-third as much as a masonry building would have; city officials were so concerned, they halted construction while they investigated its safety. The Home Insurance Building is an example of the Chicago School of Architecture. The building set precedents in skyscraper construction. Minneapolis architect Leroy Buffington patented the concept of the skeletal-frame tall building in 1888 and proposed "a 28-story 'stratosphere-scraper'—a notion mocked by the architectural press of the time as impractical and ludicrous." His proposal nonetheless attracted the attention of the national architectural and building communities to the possibilities of iron skeletal framing, "which in primitive form had been around for decades."[10]


The Field Building, now known as the Private Bank Building, built in 1931, stands on the site. In 1932, owners placed a plaque in the southwest section of the lobby reading:[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b Smith, Chrysti M. (2006). Verbivore's Feast: Second Course: More Word & Phrase Origins. Farcountry Press. p. 289. ISBN 9781560374022. Retrieved 19 January 2012. The word skyscraper, in its architectural context, was first applied to the Home Insurance Building, completed in Chicago in 1885.
  2. ^ "Home Insurance Building". SkyscraperPage.
  3. ^ "Home Insurance Building". History.com. Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  4. ^ "Home Insurance Building". Emporis.com. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
  5. ^ Kamin, Blair (November 7, 2019). "Should This Long-Gone Chicago High-Rise Still Be Called the 'First Skyscraper'? Maybe Not, Says the Group that Stripped Willis Tower of Its Tallest-Building Titles". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  6. ^ Broad Street Station (1881) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a 6-story building designed by Wilson Brothers & Company, had a structural steel frame, and was one of the first buildings in America to use masonry not as structure, but as curtain wall. It was later greatly expanded by Frank Furness. George E. Thomas, "Broad Street Station," in James F. O'Gorman et al., Drawing Toward Building: Philadelphia Architectural Graphics, 1732–1986 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986), pp. 140–42.
  7. ^ Kennedy, Maev (8 April 2005). "World's first iron-framed building saved". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
  8. ^ Smith, Chrysti M. (2006). Verbivore's Feast: Second Course: More Word & Phrase Origins. Helena, Montana: Farcountry Press. p. 289. ISBN 978-1560374022. Retrieved 2013-11-08. The word skyscraper, in its architectural context, was first applied to the Home Insurance Building, completed in Chicago in 1885.
  9. ^ Kampert, Bert (10 December 2008). "The Home Insurance Building". Chicago Architecture Info. Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
  10. ^ "The first skyscraper - new theory that Home Insurance Building was not the first". Science News. 1986. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08.

Other references

  • 1885 First Skyscraper, Chicago Public Library ("Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2016-11-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link))
  • Theodore Turak, William Le Baron Jenney: A Pioneer in Modern Architecture, Ann Arbor, Michigan: UMI Research Press, 1986
  • Carl Condit, The Chicago School of Architecture, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1964

External links

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