In 1924 the Southmoor Hotel opened on the northwest corner of Stony Island Avenue and 67th Street. With 300 elegant rooms and a prime location at the southwest entrance to Jackson Park, it soon became a jewel of the South Shore community.
The Southmoor was one of many residential hotels that once dotted Chicago’s finer neighborhoods. Two historic events distinguished the Southmoor from the others. Most famously, The Woodlawn Organization was formally organized during a meeting at the hotel in 1962. A lesser-known incident occurred seven years earlier–during his first Chicago concert tour, Elvis Presley hid out from his fans in the Southmoor.
The hotel started to slide in 1969, when management unknowingly hired some members of a local street gang. Within months the gangbangers had run off the residents and the other employees, and established the Southmoor as their headquarters.
A Time magazine story on this particular form of adaptive re-use didn’t sit well with Mayor Richard J. Daley. The city seized the building, kicked out the thugs, and launched a fruitless search for someone who’d restore the property. In 1977, shortly after I took the photo of the vacant hulk, the Southmoor was demolished.