Louis Sullivan (1856-1924)

  • Louis Sullivan c. 1895
  • Jewelers Building, 1881, Chicago, IL
  • Detail Jewelers Building, 1881, Chicago, IL
  • Ornament Jewelers Building, 1881, Chicago, IL
  • Detail Ornament Jewelers Building, 1881, Chicago, IL
  • Merchants National Bank, 1914, Grinnell, IA
  • National Farmers' Bank, 1908, Owatonna, Minnesota

Sullivan’s experience in the Furness office began in the spring of 1873 after he had quit at M.I.T.’s program in architecture as too rooted in history. It ended in the late fall after the economic crash slowed work prospects but it was long enough for him to absorb Furness’s radical new method that started from the problem rather than from a historical source. Sullivan remembered finding Furness’ partner Hewitt with “his nose in books” while Furness “made buildings out of his head.” He praised the office for “his great good fortune to have made his entry into the practical world in an office where standards were so high – where talent was so manifestly taken for granted, and the atmosphere the free and easy one of a true work shop savoring of the guild where craftsmanship was paramount and personal.” In his first buildings in Chicago, particularly the Jewelers Building and later his small banks, Sullivan’s debt to Furness is obvious. © George E. Thomas