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4015-4017 N. SHERIDAN RD.

BUILT: 1920


Located in the Uptown community area, the Cairo Supper Club Building is an unusual building designed in the Egyptian Revival architectural style, rarely used for Chicago buildings. This one-story commercial building is clad with multi-colored terra cotta, created by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company and ornamented with a variety of ancient Egyptian motifs, including lotus-decorated columns and a concave “cavetto” cornice with a winged-scarab medallion. The use of polychromatic ornament in such a visually-distinctive style has made the Cairo Supper Club Building a visual “landmark” in Uptown.

The use of this unusual architectural style reflects the interest in ancient Egyptian culture found in Chicago during the late 1910s and early 1920s, as the University of Chicago, led by internationallyfamous Egyptologist and university professor James Henry Breasted, became an internationallyimportant center for the study of ancient Egyptian history with the opening of the Oriental Institute in 1919, a year before the construction of the Cairo Supper Club Building. Besides the Cairo Supper Club Building, the extremely small number of Chicago buildings designed in the Egyptian Revival include the Reebie Storage Warehouse at 2325-2333 N. Clark St. (1921-22), which is a designated Chicago Landmark.

The Cairo Supper Club Building is the work of Chicago architect Paul Gerhardt, Sr., whose significant practice included both public and private commissions. Gerhardt is best known for his work as Cook County Architect in the 1910s, which included the Cook County Hospital building (listed on the National Register of Historic Places). He also served as Architect to the Chicago Board of Education, designing, among other buildings, Lane Technical High School, Van Steuben High School, and Du Sable High School (a designated Chicago Landmark). Gerhardt also had a thriving private practice, which produced, among other buildings, the Lindemann & Hoverson Company Showroom and Warehouse Building (a designated Chicago Landmark), located at 2620 W. Washington Blvd. and built in 1924.

The building’s first use was as an automobile showroom in the 1920s. Following World War II, the building housed the Cairo Supper Club. This restaurant and night club was a well-known North Side night spot in the 1950s and early 1960s. Taking its name from the building's historic Egyptian design, the Cairo Supper Club featured a variety of entertainment acts, including hypnotist Marshall Brodien, who later went on to fame as “Wizzo the Wizard” on “The Bozo Show,” broadcast on WGN-TV.


The Cairo Supper Club Buildingis located at the southern edge of the Uptown community area.

Although most of the immediate area around the building was historically residential, the building was built on the northern edge of a small commercial area centered on the Sheridan elevated station of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Red Line. This commercial area extended along both Sheridan Road and Irving Park Road (located just south of the building).

The Cairo Supper Club Building was built in 1920 by real-estate developer F. Hampden Winston.

City of Chicago building permit records indicate that a building permit for the building was issued on January 27, 1920. Paul Gerhardt, Sr., was listed as the architect. The estimated building cost was $60,000. Building records indicate that the building was completed by mid-December 1920.

Winston, an executive with the real-estate firm of Winston & Co., appears to have built the building as speculative commercial space. The Chicago Tribune, in its February 3, 1920, edition, noted Winston had granted a 15-year lease to the building’s first tenant, the Overland-Phillips Motor Car Company. Later in the 1920s, Marmon and Hupmobile automobiles were sold from the building.

Building description The Cairo Supper Club Building is located on the east side of North Sheridan Road, a half block north of West Irving Park Road. It is one story in height and is approximately 50 feet by 138 feet in overall building area. The building's front facade is clad with polychromatic terra cotta that frames a slightly recessed storefront. Side and rear walls are plainly built of common brick. (The building currently shares a party wall with a building to the north, and formerly shared a similar wall with a recently-demolished building to the south.

The building is designed in the Egyptian Revival architectural style and is ornamented with terracotta decoration based on ancient Egyptian architecture. Columns flanking the storefront are ornamented with lotus motives, including lotus capitals. (The lotus was a plant commonly found along the Nile River in ancient times, and its flowers served as inspiration for visually-distinctive ornament on ancient Egyptian temples.) A concave “cavetto” cornice, a type of cornice associated with Egyptian architecture, extends across the length of the building’s parapet and is ornamented with closely-spaced vertical striping. Centered in this cornice is a large medallion with a winged-scarab motive, another Egyptian-influenced decorative motive. Overall, the building's ornament is bold and sharp-edged in a manner that presages the late 1920s emergence of the Art Deco architectural style.

The Cairo Supper Club Building is a one-story, terra-cotta-clad commercial building located at 4015N. Sheridan Rd. in the Uptown community area on Chicago’s North Side.

The Cairo Supper Club Building is designed in the Egyptian Revival architectural style, rare for Chicago buildings. It is detailed with Egyptian-style details including (top) a winged scarab medallion; (above left) a lotus-capital column; and (above right) a “cavetto” cornice and multi-colored molding., all executed in polychromatic terra cotta created by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company.

Early tenants of the building were automobile dealers, including (clockwise, from top left): OaklandPhillips, Marmon, and Hupmobile).


The Egyptian Revival architectural style has never been as popular as the Classical Revival or Gothic Revival styles. Instead, the style, based on ancient Egyptian temples and other ceremonial and funerary buildings and monuments, became popular in two periods of American history, first in the mid-1800s, later in the 1920s.

Egyptian Revival-style buildings first were built in the United States in the mid-1830s, two decades after the publication of pioneering studies of ancient Egyptian architecture stemming from Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in the late 1790s, and this first Egyptian Revival period peaked in the 1840s. Egyptian Revival-style buildings built during this first period of use typically were prisons, churches and structures associated with cemeteries, including gatehouses, mausoleums, and monuments.

One of the first Egyptian Revival-style buildings in the United States was the New York Halls of Justice and House of Detention, commonly known as “The Tombs,” built in Lower Manhattan in 1838 to a design by John Haviland. Other important “first-generation” Egyptian Revival-style buildings include the Egyptian Building of the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, built in 1845 and designed by Thomas Stewart; the Grove Street Cemetery Gate in New Haven, Connecticut, designed by Henry Austin and built between 1845 and 1848; and the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, designed by William Strickland and constructed between 1848 and 1851. Arguably the best-known Egyptian Revival-style structure in the United States from this period is the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. (1848-85, Robert Mills), which took the form of an Egyptian obelisk.

During the second half of the 19th century up to the World War I years, the Egyptian Revival architectural style was little used for American architecture and was restricted mainly to cemetery monuments. In the 1920s, however, the style revived internationally with the discovery in 1922 of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, commonly known as “King Tut.” Egyptian motives were often combined with the clean lines and bold forms favored by the Art Deco style of the late 1920s and 30s.

The Pythian Temple in New York (1927, Thomas Lamb) exemplifies this melding of Art Deco and Egyptian design influences. Most famously, a number of movie theaters throughout the country were designed in the Egyptian Revival style in the 1920s, most famously Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, California, designed by Meyer & Holler and opened in 1922. In Illinois, the Egyptian Theater in DeKalb was completed in 1929 to a design by Elmer F. Behrns.

The Egyptian Revival architectural style in Chicago In Chicago, the Egyptian Revival in the early 20th century was inspired by the work of Egyptologist James Henry Breasted of the University of Chicago, whose explorations of Nile River monuments and ruins were the source of popular interest during his approximately 40-year association with the university. Developed from an earlier University of Chicago-owned collection of Middle-Eastern artifacts, the Oriental Institute opened in 1919 on the University of Chicago campus, and it inspired a great surge of interest in ancient Egyptian visual culture, including the construction the next year of the Cairo Supper Club Building.

Relatively few Egyptian Revival-style buildings are known to be have been built in Chicago. Besides the Cairo Supper Club Building, the most significant extant Chicago buildings built in the Egyptian Revival style include the Reebie Storage Building at 2325-2333 N. Clark (1921-22, The Egyptian Revival architectural style is a rare architectural style used for American buildings. It is based on ancient temple and tomb architecture found in Egypt, such as (top left) the Gate of Rameses II, part of the Temple of Amun in the ancient Egyptian city of Luxor.

In America, the earliest examples of the Egyptian Revival style, in the 1830s and 1840s, were typically jails and cemetery structures. Top right: The New York Halls of Justice and House of Detention (commonly known as the “Tombs,” built in 1838. Bottom: The Grove Street Cemetery Gate in New Haven, Connecticut, built between 1845 and 1848.

Other 19th-century Egyptian Revival-style buildings and structures in America include (top) the Egyptian Building of the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, built in 1845; and (bottom right) the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, constructed between 1848 and 1851.

Arguably the most-recognizable Egyptian Revival-style structure in the United States is the Washington Monument, built between 1848 and 1885 in the form of an Egyptian obelisk.

The 1920s saw much interest in Egyptian culture and design due to the discovery of the Pharoah Tutankamun’s tomb in 1922.

Top left: archaeologist Howard Carter examining “King Tut’s” sarcophagus.

A common building type influenced by the Egyptian Revival style in the 1920s was movie theaters. (Middle) Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, built in 1922, was perhaps the most prominent.

An Illinois example was (bottom left) the Egyptian Theater in DeKalb, built in 1929.

(Bottom right) The Pythian Temple in New York, built in 1927, exemplifies the combination of Egyptian and Art Deco motives characteristic in the 1920s.

George S. Kingsley, architect), which is a designated Chicago Landmark, and the former Egyptian Lacquer Manufacturing Company Building at 3052 W. Carroll (1926, Lockwood Co.). As with the Cairo Supper Club Building, both were built with Northwestern Terra Cotta Company terra cotta.

The Cairo Supper Club Building and the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company The architectural terra cotta of the Cairo Supper Club was manufactured by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company, one of the nation’s leading producers of architectural terra cotta. The building's finely-crafted terra cotta exemplifies the importance of the terra-cotta industry to Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the context of small-scale commercial architecture in Chicago, the Cairo Supper Club Building is a visually-unusual example of the Egyptian Revival style, with its exotic Egyptian ornament rendered in vividly-hued terra cotta.

From the immediate post-Fire years of the 1870s through the early 1930s, Chicago was a leading American center for architectural terra-cotta design and manufacturing. Terra cotta factories took advantage of Chicago’s vibrant and innovative architectural community, its strategic location at the center of the nation’s great railroad transportation network, and its proximity to clay deposits in nearby Indiana.

As a relatively inexpensive building material, terra cotta had several advantages over traditional masonry, such as brick and stone. It was much lighter than brick or stone, was easily molded into shapes and ornament for decorative building facades, could be glazed in a variety of colors, and was virtually fireproof. Architectural designers had great leeway in architectural decoration using terra cotta, with the ability to design buildings in a variety of styles, including Egyptian Revival. By the early 1900s, the city had three major companies producing terra cotta Northwestern, American, and the Midland Terra Cotta Company.

The Northwestern Terra Cotta Company was founded by a group of Chicago investors in 1878. By the early-twentieth century, the company had constructed a large plant on the northwest side of the city and employed over 1,000 workers. Northwestern’s regular clients included prominent Chicago architects such as Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Albert Kahn, and the company manufactured terra-cotta detailing for many of the city’s important buildings, including the Auditorium Building, the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building, the Marquette Building, the Civic Opera House, the Gage Building, the Fisher Building, the Chicago Theater, the Wrigley Building, and the Steuben Club Building.

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