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Your Location: World North America U.S.A. Illinois Chicago The Powhatan

The Powhatan


The Powhatan


Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
applied masonry
light brown
Art Deco


co-operative apartments


  • Named for an Algonquin chief, this art deco lakefront tower features terra-cotta panels depicting scenes from Native American culture.
  • The Powhatan projects farther east than any of the other highrises along Chicago Beach Drive.
  • In the 1950s the lobby's features were covered over with drywall and a lowered ceiling, but the interior has since been restored.
  • This cooperative building is the most expensive residential high-rise on Chicago's south side per tenant.
  • Services include a 24-hour doorman and the only 24-hour elevator operators in Chicago.
  • The top floor contains a grand art deco ballroom overlooking Lake Michigan, with open terraces on the north and south sides.
  • Entrance to the building is through a rotunda at the southeast corner with a ring of art deco depictions of Native Americans around the ceiling.
  • A pair of Peregrine falcons was brought in during the 1980s to control pigeons, but they had to be moved after they started chasing residents off the terraces.
  • Another tower with a similar art deco façade, the Narragansett Apartments, was built directly to the west. Both buildings originally overlooked the Chicago Beach Hotel and its grounds.
  • On the ground floor there is an art-deco swimming pool with pink walls and painted palm trees.
  • The lobby walls feature mosaic strips alternating with the wood paneling, producing the effect of a tropical forest.
  • The interior mosaics were made using a secret process developed by Newton A. Wells and the buildings' architect Charles Morgan which allowed the creation of 430 distinct hues. During restoration, craftsmen had to simulate this lost process.

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More Information


4950 South Chicago Beach Drive

Technical Data

269.75 ft
266.43 ft
234.80 ft
234.80 ft
Sep 1927
10.71 ft

Involved Companies


Associate Architect:

Also recorded for this building:

construction company, developer, elevator supplier, property management

Features & Amenities

  • City landmark