Fine Arts Building
Fine Arts Building
4.5
7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Monday
7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Tuesday
7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Wednesday
7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Thursday
7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Friday
7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Saturday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 9:00 PM
About
A historic building that houses two theaters, several offices, shops and music studios.
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The area
Address
Neighbourhood: Downtown / The Loop
Often visitors' first stop in Chicago, The Loop is a good starting point to sample the city's energy and flavor. This central business district boasts Michelin-rated restaurants, upscale hotels, premier shopping, and enough arresting architecture to keep your camera busy for hours. You won’t find too many photo galleries of downtown Chicago without a shot of Millennium Park and Cloud Gate (“The Bean”), one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. A stunning skyline coupled with cultural attractions like the Art Institute of Chicago present a Downtown where work and play peacefully coexist.
How to get there
  • Harold Washington Library – State/Van Buren • 3 min walk
  • Harrison • 4 min walk
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles36 reviews
Excellent
28
Very good
6
Average
1
Poor
1
Terrible
0

Fearless30513
Chicago IL1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
It's only 2 miles from the glitz of North Michigan Avenue's Franchise Row, but this late 19th Century gem is a world apart in its atmosphere. Built in the 1880s and remodeled into artist's studios and trendy shops in 1898, it remains one of Chicago's little-known gems. It still has all its original carved wood and plate glass shopfronts, mosiac and terrazzo floors, murals, and a spectaular barrel-vaulted lobby entirely sheathed in scagliola, an imitation marble where the color and veins go all the way through the plaster. The cool part is that none of this stuff is restored--its all original. It also has the last real elevator operators in town, working the original 1898 cage elevators. The upper floors are still occupied by artists and architects and musicians. If you want a real taste of what the early days of the last century felt like, you can't do better than see this place.
Written 1 May 2003
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Alysia R
Chicago, IL163 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2014 • Friends
I attended Roosevelt University Chicago when I was an undergraduate music student, so I visited the Fine Arts Building (right next door) almost on a daily basis (for choir rehearsals and to buy music scores from Performer's Music). As a student, I never really appreciated the architecture or history of the building. However, this past autumn, I got a chance to visit the building again, and it was really nice to appreciate the building as a tourist. The design is beautiful, they still have old, manually-operated elevators (scary but fun), there are many interesting studios and shops on each floor, and the art hanging on the walls are just exquisite. I dropped by during the Open House Chicago event, so the Studebaker Theatre (which is currently closed) on the main floor was open to visitors and the Venetian Court on the 4th floor was open as well. Both were really cool to see! I advise that you come by for a visit if you love and support the arts, or just want to see a wonderful building from a bygone era.
Written 4 January 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

cg37
Glenview, IL160 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2014 • Solo
Time travelers, architectural buffs and arts enthusiasts alike will find something to marvel over in this gem of a structure on one of our favorite places in Chicago - South Michigan Avenue. In view of Buckingham fountain, this 19th century masterpiece is home to businesses you're surprised and pleased to learn are still in existence. You can buy sheet music, browse books decades out of print, visit art galleries; if I'd had my viola along, I could've had the bow restrung while taking classes in the building.

An elevator operator arrives to pull the lift door open with an antique brass handle and press an actual button to deliver to your floor; you might want to have the phone out to make a video of that; it's the only manually operated elevator left in downtown Chicago.

Take it to the 10th floor to Frank Lloyd Wright's old studio, view the wall murals attributed to him, see where Poetry magazine was founded in 1912 and walk in the footsteps of T.S Eliot, Ezra Pound and Carl Sandburg.

On the other side of the coin, investigate the Al Capone connection. The story goes that he used to duck into the building with the cops on his tail. His tommy gun in a violin case, he'd ride that same ancient elevator up to the 10th floor, keeping watch through an atrium that opened onto the roof. When they got too close for comfort, he could jump over to the roof of the building next door.

We don't recommend that. Make your way down the grand marble staircase and walk the floors. You'll hear violinists practicing, floorboards creaking; you'll see artists at work on all manner of media from canvas to computer.

But the character of the place might have been best expressed by the ominous sign on the door to the fourth floor ladies room:. "Plumbing unreliable: use at your own peril." In any other building that sign would've read "Out of Order."
Written 19 December 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

SuziMac8
85 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2016
The beautiful Studebaker Theater was built in 1885 housing and selling the Studebaker carriage. The large picture windows in the front displayed the new vehicles which were produced on the 6th floor. I had to see this gem. Luckily, my professional ballerina daughter had a big performance there and I arrived early to peruse each floor.

Uniquely, this building has the oldest continuously manually operating elevator in Illinois. You press the button to call the car, and soon the door opens to reveal a person asking what floor you request. Exquisite. We took the car to the 10th floor and walked down.

Each floor had a personality of its own. A violin maker, yoga studio, architects, record store, sculptures, glass makers, too many to name. Though the building needs some repair, I couldn't help but see past that to focus on the beauty of the craftmanship, material and creativity of the buidling and the art it contains. Highly recommend seeing this beauty for yourself.
Written 21 November 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Annaline
Park Ridge, IL7,185 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2015 • Solo
I used to go to school which was located in this building on several floors: Harrington Institute of Interior Design. It was almost magical I was there every day.
It was built for the Studebaker company in 1884–5 (those cars were made in nearby South Bend, Indiana). Studebaker constructed the building as a carriage sales and service operation with manufacturing on upper floors. The two granite columns at the main entrance, 3'-8" in diameter and 12'-10" high, were said to be the largest polished monolithic shafts in the country.
The best part of this building and my school experience was 3 elevators which were operated by 3 full time elevator guys (and 2 of them where from Poland). So you were not able to get upstairs without them taking you up. Sometimes I was so unhappy because sometimes it took a lot of time to get the elevator to take you up to the 2nd floor. But even worse it was to take you down from the 3rd floor too the street level..always full...
But it was magical at the same time, and experience so unique that I still speak of it. And those views from the classroom windows to the Grant Park and the Lake! There was also a movie theater downstairs ....
Although my school is not there there is still a lot of artist's studios (singers, painters, interior designers, architects etc) Artist studios like Frank lLoyd Wright and Lorado Taft still have their name plates on the doors. When I visit it it always surprise me with new details I didn't notice before.
Written 29 September 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KmomChicago
Kankakee, IL200 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
We saw the show, Undertale Live, at the Studebaker Theatre inside the Fine Arts building in January, 2020. We were seeing a Saturday evening show, so we booked a room overnight at the Congress Plaza hotel, less than a block away. I don't want to say too much here about the hotel, since it really isn't relevant to the Fine Arts Building, but in short, it's a historic old place that we love - faded grandeur to be sure, but great rates right on Grant Park in Chicago, plus we like its quirky and somewhat gritty character.

Anyway, the weather was not nice that day at all. Angry high waves had been crashing up under snowy gray skies along the lakefront all day, and we were glad to be settled for the night very close to the theatre rather than having to face driving back out to the suburbs afterward.

Inside the Fine Arts Building, the Studebaker offered a lot of what I like about the Congress. It's an old theater, which has been updated enough to bring it back into use a few years ago, but not enough to look like a brand-new, boring, ultra chic sort of place. When my kiddo told me about this show, a lot of the best seats had already been booked, but I was able to get front row balcony way off to one side - a good choice for us, since she and I are both of petite height and often end up with heads blocking our views. During the show, some sort of control board was set up right in front of us that almost, but not quite, blocked part of our view.

I'm giving this venue 5 owl eyes simply because it's there, it's open, and someone is lovingly trying to run it as a going concern. That can't be an easy equation in expensive Chicago. With about 700 seats, you are not far from the action no matter where you sit, a relatively intimate and comfortable space to hold a moderate size performance.

As I write this we are in the throes of the COVID stay-at-home order, so I can only hope that performances will resume in privately owned theaters like this one afterward.
Written 19 April 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Yankeehoya
Doha, Qatar285 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019 • Friends
I totally stumbled on this building. Even at 9:30 AM on a Sunday morning there are people inside practicing their music. Lovely architecture.
Written 7 July 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Pepper
Seattle, WA1,590 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2018 • Solo
So glad they are taking care of this building. Definitely worth a look and it is open to the public 7 days a week.. It is worth exploring the floors ( going on the historic elevator) because each one has something interesting going on- especially the violin maker.. I had lunch at the café in front- kind of a mediocre salad ( eggplant and a lot of lettuce) but they had good coffee!
Written 19 July 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Chuck A
Chicago, IL65 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2016 • Solo
The Fine Arts Building offers a fascinating glimpse of architecture in the early 1900s. It showcases art from its earliest artists on the top floor and hosts an interesting selection of artist studios and music-related stores, such as a sheet music shop and a violin maker/repairer. The manually operated elevators add to the ambiance. It is best paired with a visit to the Art Institute or the Auditorium Theatre nearby.
Written 24 July 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hugh M
Milwaukee, WI63 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2013 • Friends
We only had half a day for our visit. Impressionists were the draw, and the pictures were properly displayed. We did not have time for all the exhibits, and some of the modern anti-art works were forgettable. But Picasso, Leger, van Gogh, Rodin, Monet, and so many others in one afternoon in a beautiful building. We did not waste our time.
Written 12 August 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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