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The Powhatan

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The Powhatan


Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
applied masonry
light brown
art deco


co-operative apartments


  • Services include a 24-hour doorman and the only 24-hour elevator operators in Chicago.
  • The lobby walls feature mosaic strips alternating with the wood paneling, producing the effect of a tropical forest.
  • The Powhatan projects farther east than any of the other highrises along Chicago Beach Drive.
  • The top floor contains a grand art deco ballroom overlooking Lake Michigan, with open terraces on the north and south sides.
  • 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.
  • Named for an Algonquin chief, this art deco lakefront tower features terra-cotta panels depicting scenes from Native American culture.
  • 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.
  • In the 1950s the lobby's features were covered over with drywall and a lowered ceiling, but the interior has since been restored.
  • 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.
  • This cooperative building is the most expensive residential high-rise on Chicago's south side per tenant.
  • On the ground floor there is an art-deco swimming pool with pink walls and painted palm trees.
  • 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.

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More Information


4950 South Chicago Beach Drive
1648 East 50th Street
4950 South Chicago Beach Drive
South Side

Technical Data

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

Involved Companies

Charles L. Morgan

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Features & Amenities

  • City landmark
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