April 10, 2018

Dearborn, Reborn: A Chicago Bank Building Is Revived as a Stylish Hotel

  • By: Katherine Flynn
  • Photography: Virgin Hotels Chicago

The Old Dearborn Bank Building in Chicago received a bold new bid on life in the winter of 2015. The 1928 Art Deco skyscraper, a landmark of the city’s downtown Loop, reopened in early 2015 as the stylish Virgin Hotels Chicago after a three-year renovation and restoration financed in part by federal historic tax credits.

“We fell in love with the building the day that we saw it,” says Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal.

The structure housed office space before its purchase by Virgin in 2011, but decades of deferred maintenance had taken their toll. The restoration process, which was aided by historic consultants MacRostie Historic Advisors, included a year-long project to remove the second-floor bank lobby’s false ceiling, which hid a broken and chipped original plaster ceiling that was then returned to its former glory. Other preserved historic elements include a cigar bar that now serves as a reception desk, terrazzo floors on the guest room levels, and a first-floor grand staircase. The 26-story structure’s carved masonry facade also received a thorough cleaning and restoration.

Although the transformation from office building to luxury hotel was “not a simple conversion,” says Leal, he’s thrilled to be able to share the rehabbed building with the public.

“The building’s interior is something that most people haven’t seen for a long time,” he says. “We’re excited to be here.”

The sleek and modern bar at the Commons Club inside the former bank building.

photo by: Virgin Hotels Chicago

The sleek and modern bar at the hotel's Commons Club.

This story first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Preservation magazine.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.


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