Monday, October 26, 2009

Inside the Del Prado: A Photo Essay


posted by chicago pop




The old Shoreland Hotel has gotten all the attention lately, but the real jewel in the crown of Hyde Park's old hotels is, without question, the Del Prado. I'd go so far as to say it's the jewel in the crown of MAC's rental apartment portfolio, including their properties in Kansas City.

Located with views onto what is arguably some of Hyde Park's finest green space, Harold Washington Park, with commanding views to the north and west, the building's original exterior and interior decorations are better preserved and of finer quality than the Shoreland, at least in the latter's current condition.


This sunlit, mezzanine ballroom might become Hyde Park's next full-service family restaurant, with tables looking over the park. Done right, the Del Prado stands a chance of transplanting a little bit of the Drake Hotel's 20's ambiance back to the South Side.


Restoration work has already been done on portions of the Del Prado's entryway, including this grand staircase and the interior lobby.


In the penthouse are the ruins of the world-famous, speakeasy-style Chinese restaurant remembered by many, the "House of Eng." And, continuing the Drake-Del Prado connection, it's worth noting that House of Eng was originally located in the Drake until it relocated to the Del Prado in the 1960s.



What once was...


Red lacquer, orientalist fantasy



Looking to the Hyde Park Bank Building from inside House of Eng


Looking east onto Lake Michigan from the roof of the Del Prado Hotel



Exterior ornamentation





MAC rental property kitty-corner from the Del Prado, poised to be fully on the market sometime in 2010, making the corner of 53rd and Hyde Park Boulevard one to watch

15 comments:

Greg said...

Wow, imagine if ye olde House of Eng was turned into another restaurant, or maybe just a lounge/bar. The outdoor seating would be amazing. Why did House of Eng ever close down anyway?

One thing: I thought there was another place upstairs from the former House of Eng that was discovered by accident last spring? I read this on Hyde Park Urbanist... it was weird with all these little cubicles containing wash basins, with everything covered in red velvet? And nobody seemed to remember what it was or even have any ideas.

Del Prado IS beautiful, but some parts of it are in rough shape. I was looking to rent there a couple years ago. The hallways upstairs had some pretty terrible, uneven patchwork done to the plaster and the original apartment/room doors were replaced with these hideous 1980s-era orange formica things that have big numbered stickers on them for the apartment number. The lobby was very cool, the old original elevators were cool (if totally unreliable). I love all the original details and Mac seems to be doing a pretty good job so far. Not so sure about the McDonalds Yellow paint in the front entrance but maybe that's just me.

Elizabeth Fama said...

If it wasn't obvious to readers before that HPP reporters risk their lives to bring them these posts, it's clear now.

P.S. C-Pop, this might be a good time for us to remind any conspiracy-theorist readers out there that this blog acts independently from all developers, politicians, and the University administration. We receive no funding or perks from any person or organization.

chicago pop said...

Not sure I'm a huge fan of the yellow staircase either, but it *is* eye-catching! We'll see what it looks like at the end of the process.

Richard Gill said...

Although they may disappear, those circular portals in the old House of Eng are reminiscent of the super-slick magazine office in "Ugly Betty." (That's a compliment.)

Helma said...

It's interesting to see the recurrent write-ups on MAC buildings on this blog (did that prompt your comment, Beth?). There's a bit of a disconnect with what I hear from my students, who will cite as a point in favor of an apartment that it's *not* MAC-owned. They seem to think that MAC is overpriced and does not have responsive management like, say, Parker Holsman. Is this unfair? Of course I don't have anywhere near a representative sample, but it has been a recurring comment.

chicago pop said...

Yes, from time to time there are rumblings that HPP is some kind of front for either the U of C or for MAC, the two biggest players in the neighborhood. If you go way down into the loony trenches you may hear that this blog is "funded" by one or both, partly due to the positions we take in local politics.

With regards to MAC, here's the skinny: I like MAC. They are a huge player in the neighborhood and are making massive changes, mostly, in my opinion, for the better. They have allowed me to tour many of their buildings and take photographs to show what the condition of some of these buildings are, and what they hope to accomplish. Anyone who thinks that I or this blog gets any cash out of this is on crack. This is a purely volunteer effort on the part of all participants.

Now, as to the students: my sense is that student housing is not MAC's target market. MAC is shooting for young, single, working professionals. They are upgrading their apartments accordingly. Chicago is a major housing market, and prices will reflect that. There may indeed be a problem of students getting squeezed, and that's something worth looking into.

But I doubt very much that any undergrad or grad who can remember back to the days of K&G will find much to complain about when compared to MAC. The only way to get past subjective feelings of rentals being overpriced is to get price comparisons for comparable properties for students within the neighborhood and city-wide.

Otto said...

One thing: I thought there was another place upstairs from the former House of Eng that was discovered by accident last spring?

I don't know the source that you're referring to, but as I recall (late '80s), one could go out of the House of Eng, down a hallway, and up three or four stairs to find an ersatz jazz club. The red velvet sounds right.

I do remember that for some reason every time I found myself at the House of Eng, I could only afford the candied kumquats.

Famac said...

I love looking at these historic Hyde Park exposes!

TALKFOODDENVER said...

Just ran across your blog about House of Eng in the Del Prado Hotel! I remember it like yesterday! I'm blogging about it myself today! The memory of it deserves to be honored with another wonderful rooftop dining experience with speakeasy personality! I saw some original pics and the menu! What a place!

QRBNST said...

MAC should take a cue from Horizon Realty Group's fantastic renovation of the Sheridan Plaza Apartments in Uptown.

http://www.horizonrealtygroup.com/apartments/building/details.aspx?BuildingId=20

GINA DICKERSON TALKFOODDENVER said...

My family used to go to House of Eng all the time. It was always packed with a Diverse crowd including local politicians. Describing it as a "speak-easy' was absolutely correct! The rooftop deck and dining was incredible. I will always miss it I think....

There was nothing like it!

P.S. Does anyone have information about the old "Gaslight Club" open to members only? It was located North of Rush Street.

jhg4606 said...

Why were there fancy Hyde Park places in the 1920's? It's unfathomable that there'd be a go-to Hyde Park place today.

Pet Mom 1 said...

In searching my family tree, the 1900 census shows my great great grandmother widowed and her two daughters living at the Del Prado hotel! I think she ran the boarding rooms! It is listed as her occupation......wow......lets hope someone can restore this old gem to its original vision!

Pet Mom 1 said...

In searching my family tree, the 1900 census shows my great great grandmother widowed. living with her two daughters at the Del Prado hotel! I think she ran the boarding rooms! It is listed as her occupation......wow......lets hope someone can restore this old gem to its original vision!

Doreen said...

I lived in Hyde Park in the mid-70's and loved the House of Eng. As an Iowa gal, I was much impressed with their cuisine--especially the pressed duck. I am still rather ashamed of myself, but I still have 2 pilfered House of Eng tea cups in my cupboard. I was pretty amoral back then. I still use them for snacks like nuts or small candies and they bring back great memories.