Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Researching Laughlin Hall

If you're from the Windy City, then this one is for you....

A couple of years ago, one of John's friends, the late Bernie Markwell, sent us some notes about meeting John for the first time four decades ago in Chicago. His notes were somewhat sparse and he indicated he would send more. He never did, he never will, and so we're sort of stuck with what we have.

At any rate, Markwell says he first met John when he "moved to Laughlin Hall (now destroyed) to get more work done."

We assumed at the time this was some sort of dormitory/apartment complex owned by the University of Chicago. When we decided to check it out via the Internet we found nothing – as we sort of expected, since it was demolished long ago. We were a bit surprised, however, to contact the University of Chicago archives and be told that they knew of no past or current building on campus with that name. That led us to wonder if this was another Hyde Park area (non-campus) establishment of some sort. But – sorry – no leads from our friends at the Hyde Park Historical Society, either.

That brings us to today, when we tried the Internet again. We found a brief mention of Laughlin Hall at a site belonging to the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. It says, "...decades ago, Laughlin Hall, a small house on the corner of 55th Street and Blackstone Avenue, was totally dedicated to business students."

We were going to originally ask whether anyone knew of Laughlin Hall or if it really existed. But that’s all changed now. It exists. Or, rather, it did. Now to try and figure out how it fits into Bernie’s story.

Hooray for us.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I happened to stumble into this message through the mention of Hyde Park. I'm shocked the U of C has such inadequate records of its own real estate history since they owned that building for decades. It's not on campus though. And it was NOT a small house; it was an old residential hotel/apartment building. Most of these buildings were referred to by the name of the original hotel there (Broadview, Shoreland, etc.) so I assume Laughlin was the name when it was a commercial enterprise. The university had bought up a bunch of them to house grad students. Laughlin had small private rooms as I recall. I remember it as a place for Law School students in the 1970s and early 1980s, but I haven't thought of it for years, so I could be misremembering. The university did not maintain these buildings, letting them slowly decay and then demolishing them. The lot was sold and was turned into two large townhouses. Laughlin was a gloomy place, squeezed between the massive shadow of the IM Pei building University Apartments to the north separated by a narrow two lanes of street and a large courtyard apartment building to the south on Blackstone.

Anonymous said...

Laughlin Hall

I lived in Laughlin Hall from September 1970 to June 1972.

I have just returned from Hyde Park – my first time on Blackstone Avenue since 1972. I looked for Laughlin Hall at 5519 South Blackstone Avenue, but, as you have found, the building has disappeared. I decided to search on the net for Laughlin Hall and I found your web site.

Laughlin Hall was a dormitory residence for students at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago. My memory has dimmed over the past 35 years, but I shall try my best to describe it.

The building was four stories high and contained between 80 and 100 single occupancy rooms, each with a private bathroom. There was a single elevator in the building, just next to the entrance. Entering the building one came through two single doors (one after the other) into a “common area”, sometimes occupied by students working on projects together. The rest of the building featured a corridor on either side of which were the dorm rooms. I believe the building was oriented west-east – so that the back of the building (at the end of the corridor) faced towards the lake, though of course other buildings obscured the view.

Laughlin Hall in the 1970s was already an old building. The accommodations were not luxurious but they were certainly adequate for men mostly in the early twenties recently out of college. The building had a superintendent named John.

Anonymous said...

Laughlin Hall

I lived in Laughlin Hall from September 1970 to June 1972.

I have just returned from Hyde Park – my first time on Blackstone Avenue since 1972. I looked for Laughlin Hall at 5519 South Blackstone Avenue, but, as you have found, the building has disappeared. I decided to search on the net for Laughlin Hall and I found your web site.

Laughlin Hall was a dormitory residence for students at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago. My memory has dimmed over the past 35 years, but I shall try my best to describe it.

The building was four stories high and contained between 80 and 100 single occupancy rooms, each with a private bathroom. There was a single elevator in the building, just next to the entrance. Entering the building one came through two single doors (one after the other) into a “common area”, sometimes occupied by students working on projects together. The rest of the building featured a corridor on either side of which were the dorm rooms. I believe the building was oriented west-east – so that the back of the building (at the end of the corridor) faced towards the lake, though of course other buildings obscured the view.

Laughlin Hall in the 1970s was already an old building. The accommodations were not luxurious but they were certainly adequate for men mostly in the early twenties recently out of college. The building had a superintendent named John.

Veritas said...

I am an intern for Court Theater, and I do a lot of work with their archives. There are several mentions in the early 1970s in their memos and inter-departmental correspondence regarding posting flyers or posters in the "Laughlin Hall Dormitory." I'm really surprised that anyone at the U of C would deny that it existed.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Laughlin Hall for three years beginning in September 1962. It was dedicated solely for housing Graduate School of Business students. After being away for over four decades, I visited the University of Chicago a few years ago and wanted to see Laughlin Hall. Unfortunately, it had been demolished. In the 1960s, it was in relatively good condition. The rooms were small, yet having a private bath was a true luxury. We held occasional parties in the "common area" on the ground floor. I have fond memories of the place. Today, I received an e-mail from the University of Chicago informing me that a reunion is being planned for students who lived at Laughlin Hall in the 1960's.

Mark Landau said...

I lived in Laughlin Hall while attending what is now the Booth School of Business from 1973-75. It was luxurious for the fact it was all private rooms with a full bath, very rare in those days. It was pretty much as described by the above former student. The common area had a television and some of us played cards there. The ground floor also had a laundry room, which, besides a washing machine and a dryer, had a desk with a modem linked to the time sharing mainframe, and a "teletype" type printer. The "dorm" was coed, but at the time, females made up 10-20% of the business school. One of the stories of the origin of the building was that it was a small hotel built for the Chicago Columbian Exhibition of 1893.I don't know if that was true.

#JohnBellairs