[graphic header] Chicago: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Service

Tree Studio Complex
Tree Studios, exterior
Photo courtesy of Thomas G. Yanul.

The Tree Studio Complex is a group of three buildings comprising the original Tree Studio, built in 1894, and the Ontario and Ohio Street Annexes, two additions built in 1912-1913. They were erected by Lambert Tree to provide low cost housing and studio space for artists.

The architectural firm of Parfitt Brothers designed the original building while Hill and Woltersdorf were the architects for the annexes. All the buildings are steel-framed and two stories high. The U-shape plan of the complex surrounds a courtyard. The west facade of the Tree Studio is composed of a full length cast iron arcade at the ground level for small stores. The second story is covered in a buff colored Roman brick with large windows for the artists' studios. The decorative features include dormers, chimneys with clay pots and a cast iron frieze below the roof soffit. The Ontario and Ohio Street Annexes both have mansard roofs and are faced with brown brick. Each contains four large art studios and one or two-bedroom apartments.

A legal trust set up by Lambert Tree allowed only artists to reside in the Tree Studio Complex at moderate rental prices. This continued until 1959 when the property was sold to Medinah Temple Association, which built a windowless three-story music hall on the east half of the courtyard. Although the "artist only" clause of the trust is no longer valid, the buildings maintain a very high proportion of artist residents.

The Tree Studio Building and Annexes are located at 4 E. Ohio St. These residences are not open to the public. For rental information contact the Suites Collection website or call 312-762-9200.


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