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Old Colony Building

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Old Colony Building


Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
rigid frame
spread foundation
applied masonry
chicago school


commercial office


  • The original foundations included a row of caissons near the south end, inserted below a jacked-up frame to stop the uneven settlement that was beginning.
  • The facade is cream-colored Roman brick which has turned black with soot, and terra-cotta ornamental trim. The base is clad in Bedford limestone.
  • The entrance is flanked on both sides by the seal of the Plymouth Colony.
  • On the narrow side horizontal lines are emphasized, while vertical lines are foregrounded on the wider façades.
  • First skyscraper ever to use arched portal bracing, a technique used for stability in bridges.
  • Located in a virtual museum of early skyscrapers: a two-block section of Dearborn which also includes the Monadnock, Manhattan, and Fisher Buildings.
  • Originally built mostly on spread foundations, caissons were added later under the eastern columns to shore the foundation against the Dearborn Street subway.
  • Built by a Boston lawyer, the building is named in honor of the first English colony in America at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • The girders and floor beams are steel, but the columns in the structural skeleton are made of wrought iron.
  • The four corners of the building feature rounded window bays.
  • When the building opened the interior featured extensive mosaic tiling, oak woodwork, Italian marble, and ornate wrought-iron elevator grilles. Most of this has disappeared in subsequent modernizations.
  • Since the rounded bays project beyond the lot line, the building's architects proclaimed proudly that the site had achieved an occupancy greater than 100%.

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More Information


407 South Dearborn Street
35 West Van Buren Street, 400 South Plymouth Court
407 South Dearborn Street

Technical Data

211.75 ft
68.01 ft
148.00 ft

Involved Companies

Holabird & Roche

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