The state may soon be putting the Thompson Center up for sale. It’s an impressive looking building, but it’s supposed to be hell to work in. The upkeep is expensive, too. What will happen to this Helmut Jahn masterwork is anyone’s guess. Maybe someone will repurpose it as a new Hotel Sherman. That’s what Jahn’s building replaced on the northwest corner of Clark and Randolph Streets.
In 1844 a man named Francis Sherman bought Chicago’s pioneer City Hotel and renamed it the Sherman House. Over the next decades, the Sherman name was kept alive in a succession of downtown hotels. The last of them went up in 1911, with 757 rooms. A 23-story tower was added to this structure in 1925. Boasting over 1600 rooms, the revamped Hotel Sherman was said to be the largest American hotel outside New York City.
A year after the expansion, the hotel hosted a peace conference—of Chicago gangsters. The result was the Hotel Sherman Treaty of October 21, 1926, which established a Madison Street boundary line separating the North Side Moran outfit and the South Side Capone mob, as well as settling other issues of concern. The peace lasted a little over two months.
Besides catering to gangsters, the Hotel Sherman’s location across from City Hall made it a favorite gathering spot for local politicians. The College Inn became a well-regarded restaurant. But eventually, occupancy declined. The Hotel Sherman closed its doors early in 1973. The building stood vacant for several years, until it was torn down to make way for that new State of Illinois office center in 1980.