Purple Hotel demolition begins in Lincolnwood

August 27, 2013 3:38:42 PM PDT
A wrecking ball took three swings at Lincolnwood's famed Purple Hotel Tuesday as demolition began on the vacant building.

Purple Hotel Demolition Pictures

Known for its unusual color, the Purple Hotel near Lincoln and Touhy was the Pritzker family's first Hyatt property in the Chicago area. It opened in 1962.

For decades, it was the place to be. Singers like Roberta Flack and Barry Manilow would draw crowds. However, by 2007, a court order was sought to close it because of rodents and code violations.

After the demolition, the property will be developed into restaurants, upscale retail shops and another hotel. Developers and Lincolnwood village officials were expected to be onhand later to say goodbye.

Some of the iconic purple bricks will be incorporated into the new building project. Developers were also giving some away to the public, asking that donations be made to the Lincolnwood Library.

The Purple Hotel was not just a hot spot for celebrities and mobsters but a local favorite. Many area residents would stay the night for fun or for special events, such as weddings. Susan and Mark Rothschild were married there in November of 1975. The main reason they got married there was for the parking. They came by Tuesday to say goodbye.

"We came here every year for our anniversary for how many years?" Susan asked.

"I cannot count them," Mark said.

"Fifteen years or so. It was a lovely place, a happy place to celebrate," Susan said.

"Lots of memories. Sunday brunches, we would eat here once a year for our anniversary dinner for many years. Times change," Mark said. "I wish they could renovate it as such, but then, I understand progress."

"The architect who did it, who will be here later today, had these purple bricks, and people could not believe what they were looking at, but over time, it became the mantra of this whole area," Lincolnwood Mayor Jerry Turry said before the wrecking ball moved in.

"We are planning on putting a new hotel, mixed-use, retail, office space, specialty grocer, and public gathering space the whole community can benefit from," said developer Neal Stein.

It was a special place for Joanne and Shelly Bookstein as well.

"When we were first dating, we always came here, played pool," Joanne said.

Hired as a switchboard operator at 19 years old, Dawn Dickens was one of the first African Americans hired at the hotel in the 1970s.

"It was a privilege to be hired by Hyatt Hotels," she said.

Architect John Macsai says it was his client's idea to build the hotel with purple bricks.

"I brought the color catalogue for him to look at, don't let the client do that, screw it up," said Macsai.

"I met celebrities here. I met the Chicago Bulls; they used to stay here on preseason games," Dickens said.

"It was a wonderful place where the elite would meet," said Sallie Blackman.

Glossy bricks began to fade after reputed mobster Allen Dorfmann was gunned down in the hotel parking lot in 1983. At Tony Rezko's corruption trial, Stuart Levine testified about his frequent drug parties at the hotel.

"I want to forget that and hold onto the memories I have," said Bookstein.

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