One of my favorite places in Chicago to browse (notice I said browse not shop) is at Bloomingdales Medinah store on Wabash Avenue.
I remember the first time I saw it. I was so stunned that my jaw slacked and my mouth dropped open in surprise as I stared in awe this totally unique and fascinating piece of architecture. It’s not often you run across Moorish Revival Architecture with onion domes and horseshoe-shaped arches in the middle of an American city but here stood this jewel and I was lucky enough to be able to go in and take a look. Needless to say, I was intrigued front entrance where I saw the words “The is no God but Allah” written in Arabic.
According to information provided by the store the building was built in 1912 and its intended use was as an auditorium seating over 4,000 people on three levels as well as a meeting hall for the Shriners. The Shrine Circus took place here complete with elephants, tigers and clowns to thrill the crowd. Because the acoustics were so superb, the venue was used for recording by the Chicago Symphony. Concerts and plays were another favorite crowd pleaser.
Like most good things which must come to an end beginning in 2000 the building was gutted and turned into a home furnishing store by Bloomingdales.
It is a real treat to “shop” here. Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see. From the domed ceiling to ornate stained glass there are clues to this wonderful buildings past that surround you. And ladies some of the best stained glass windows can be found in the restroom.
If you would like to view some historic photographs of the building visit: