Monday, October 17, 2011

Purple Hotel on the Wane

The unmistakable, can't-miss-it building at the corner of Touhy and Lincoln has housed a number of different hotel chains over the decades, but it has long been known by its most obvious description: The Purple Hotel.

Purple Hotel
March 2006

Planned as the Hyatt-Lincolnwood, the Hyatt House-Chicago broke ground in January 1961, on the site of the Allgauers Fireside restaurant at Lincoln and Touhy, destroyed by fire in 1958. One year later, on January 17, 1962, the Hyatt House opened with a ballroom, conference spaces, an outdoor pool, and a million dollar Ray Foley restaurant. Architects for the hotel were Hausner and Mascal, with Freidman, Alschuler and Sincere designing the restaurant.

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April 2008

The place did fine into the 80s, when it was sold by the Hyatt and began a series of name changes. The Purple Hotel monicker was finally made official in 2004 by an independent operator.

The Purple Hotel

Through it all, the Purple Hotel has acquired a rather legendary history in the annals of sleepy Lincolnwood. It was a swinging hot spot in its early days, hosing a variety of performers. In 1983, it was the site of the gangland execution of a mobster. Just a few years ago, convictions were handed down regarding sex parties held at the hotel. And most recently, its rampant building code violations forced the hotel to close in 2007, and have since made it the subject of considerable legal wrangling, as the city of Lincolnwood moves to have it demolished.

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April 2008

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August 2010

In the meantime, the Purple Hotel has gone downhill, fast. The pool courtyard is choked by weeds growing six feet tall. Windows are broken. Doors are kicked open. Carpets are torn out. The interior partitions are rotting, and mold is reportedly all over the place.

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The hotel does have some architectural value, as Lee Bay recently pointed out. The exposed structure gives it a nice rhythm, and those massive windows on the guest rooms just don't get done anymore. A few elements here and there give it some added 60s funk, not least of which are the titular glazed purple bricks themselves.

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To make it work as a hotel, an operator would have to think way beyond the norm. This building, hanging out in the middle of nowhere in terms of public transit, amenities and attractions, is a non-starter as a standard hotel. The only hope, marketing-wise, would be to capitalize on the building's funky style and swinging history, and go all-out with a completely crazed renovation. Either total Mid Century classic 1960s style - maybe even a 1950s streamline mode - or else a completely contemporary treatment rendered in shades of purple. Purple neon, purple understair lighting, purple translucent backlit panels, curving purple reception desk, an internally glowing purple bar with bottles lining purple-backlit glass shelves.

Is Lincolnwood ready for an over-the-top celebration of its own history? Somehow I doubt it.

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  • Purple Hotel at American UrbEx blog

  • Purple Razed? - Lee Bay

  • The Eyesore That Is the Purple Hotel - Skokie.Patch.com

  • The Purple Hotel - Global Traveler Blog

  • Decrepit Purple Hotel Outstays Its Welcome - Sun-Times
  • 12 comments:

    BW Des Plaines said...

    I don't see why they couldn't gut it and make it into senior housing.

    JawsOfJosh said...

    Indeed, the neighboring area doesn't make this building conducive to be a profitable hotel. To echo the 1st comment, it's only hopes of surviving are as a senior citizen residency, or as some kind of outpatient hospital.

    I pass by this place weekly, wondering how long it's going to stay there before it's torn down. Thank you for the profile and all the photos.

    Anonymous said...

    I'd like to turn the site into The Purple Nugget Casino and Whorehouse, but there's have to be some regulatory and moral easements.

    Anonymous said...

    No interior shots? Yawn.

    Robert Powers said...

    Sorry, didn't have my biohazard suit with me that day.

    Anonymous said...

    You mean you aren't willing to risk bodily harm, death, and/or arrest for your loyal readers? Weak!

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks so much for the memories! Maybe this hotel is why I love purple to this day! I went to a high school dance there and the Turnberry (was that the name?) restaurant there in the late 70"s had the best duck--with all different sauces! I really hope they save it--if not I want a brick!

    Anonymous said...

    wait--I remembered the name of the restaurant--TJ Peppercorns!

    nitram242 said...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/25165196@N08/sets/72157622041105536/

    nice on the inside

    Anonymous said...

    Senior housing my tuchos! This place has only one use. A massive brothel.

    Anonymous said...

    Only use is a brothel!

    Anonymous said...

    The building has a lot of potential. It's architecture is superior to the Holiday Inn down the street.

    It sits near I-94