One of the best things about our jobs is being able to see buildings that are abandoned, be able to imagine what it could become, and actually play an active role in its revival. Ellipsis was fortunate to have the opportunity to tour a potential project site recently to consider the opportunities present in a historically-rich building with a storied past. Located at 4000 West Washington Boulevard, the Guyon Hotel has been home to a dance school, a Jimmy Carter-lead housing initiative and even Al Capone's gang. With some ingenuity and some luck, perhaps this gray building will soon be brought back to life!
The brainchild of famous club owner J. Louis Guyon, the hotel was the first of its kind in offering long-term stays to guests. The ultimate decline of Guyon's hotel business is commonly attributed to a reputation he developed for having mob ties to Al Capone. A later conversion of the building to affordable housing was the championed by Faith-Based Organization Bethel New Life with the Help of Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter.
According to When Moser of Chicago Magazine,
"West Garfield Park’s Moorish masterpiece was once the center of a conservative media empire (in the moral sense), the home of WFMT, and a host to young Benny Goodman and old Jimmy Carter. It’s also been a crucible of low-income housing development, and despite being on the National Register of Historic Places, it remains in limbo, where it’s been for decades."
According to Harry Huggins and Marisa Endicot,
"The Guyon Hotel made Landmarks Illinois' Ten Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2012 and Chicago Preservation’s “Chicago 7” list of most endangered buildings in 2013 and 2014"