Touring with Terrell: Inside the Brewster Building and its spooky past

'Child's Play,' the first Chucky movie, was filmed in the Brewster Building

ByTerrell Brown and Poinesha Barnes WLS logo
Friday, October 27, 2023
Touring with Terrell: Inside the Brewster Building
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The Brewster Building in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood catches the eye, inside and out.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- ABC7 is exploring the architectural wonders of Chicago and there's no shortage of amazing buildings in our city.

So, Terrell decided to tour some of the coolest buildings and take you all along for the ride. Check out the Brewster Building and its spooky past!

At the corner of Pine Grove and Diversey sits a century old piece of Chicago architectural history.

It catches the eye, inside and out, with its unique pink brick on the exterior and its interior cast-iron decor.

"This is known as the Brewster building," Michael Esposito, former president of Brewster Building Board, said. "It's a condominium building. It was originally built however, as Lincoln Park Palace, it was a residential hotel."

Construction began in 1893 and was completed in 1896. Enoch Hill Turnok, an architect from England, designed the building.

"The steel frame construction was innovative for the time," Esposito said. "This wasn't the first steel frame building, but it was an early example."

Back then, most buildings were constructed with heavy masonry bricks, making it difficult to construct tall buildings due to lack of structural support. But, the Brewster building had eight stories and even more surprises.

"The architect of the building, had some ideas that today we would call green, but in the 1890s that term hadn't appeared yet," Esposito said.

Take this brightly lit atrium, for example.

"The interior windows and the transoms over the doors could open which would create a natural cooling effect cooler air would come in at the ground floor and hot air would rise out through the opening windows at the top of the Atrium," Esposito said.

And there's another draw to the Brewster building.

"Everybody loves to come here for the cage elevator," Esposito said. "I know it's not unique to this building, but there aren't very many of them around anymore."

So, along with this building's architectural history it's also it got some film history. "Child's Play," the first Chucky movie was filmed here, back in 1988.

"The story basically is a single mother gets a doll for her son for his birthday," founder of Chicago Movie Tours Kelli Marshall said. "And she does this not knowing that this doll has been inhabited by the soul of a serial killer."

Movie experts say the building was a great setting for a horror film.

"The elevator cast iron the railings cast iron, the bridges that are leading from the apartments to the interior sort of lobby or atrium areas of this building, all of which are very cast iron and suggest this cage that you're finding yourself in," Marshall said.

Both the interior and exterior played a major role in the film.

"There's a famous scene where a character gets pushed out a window and falls to the street and that was filmed on the southeast corner of the building," Esposito said.

"Also, where the building is positioned is on the street corner," Marshall said. "So when you're dealing with a corner lot that makes it really easy for cinematographers, and filmmakers to get that perfect shot of the building itself."

So, the Brewster building not only served as the perfect backdrop for movies like "Child's Play," it serves as a preserved history lesson in architecture.

"I would say more than 90% of the building is original and maybe even higher than that," Esposito said. "So you still if you know if Turnoch were to walk into the building today he would recognize it as his building."