I’ve mentioned George Grant Elmslie, Louis Sullivan’s former draftsman, here and elsewhere before, particularly noting one of his smaller working buildings, the Peoples Gas Irving Park Neighborhood Store at 4839 W. Irving Park Road.
Elmslie is best-known as the man who festooned Adler and Sullivan’s buildings with fractalizing terra cotta and cast-iron explosions of leaves, flowers, and other elements, bringing rapturous glissandos and arpeggios to Sullivan’s architectural operas. After leaving Sullivan, Elmslie started a firm with William Gray Purcell (about which more here). When that partnership dissolved, Elmslie went on to collaborate with other architects, but also worked through his own company, George G. Elmslie & Associates. Aurora, IL, as it turns out, holds the largest number of Elmslie’s commercial buildings in one place. All were designed in the 1920s, and though most experienced some unfortunate alterations over the decades, they remain mostly intact and feature Elmslie’s later, more subdued, but no less lovely, ornamentation.
Included below are photos of Elmslie’s German-American National Bank, Old Second National Bank (particularly amazing), Keystone Building, William H. Graham Building, and Healey Chapel. I’ve thrown in a few photos of Leland Tower/Leland Hotel (I knew nothing about its impressive history as the former tallest building outside of Chicago and a recording studo location for such blues performers as Sonny Boy Williams I, Robert Nighthawk, Jazz Gillum, Big Joe Williams, Washboard Sam, Tampa Red, and Yank Rachell), and Aurora’s Paramount Theater for good measure. Who would have thought the location of Wayne’s World would be so culturally rich?