Ornamental Panel and Display from the Schiller Theater, Chicago
USA, 1892
Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan

Painted plaster, lacquered wood, photographs
27 × 1½ × 26½”

In 1879, Sullivan entered the Chicago office of architect and engineer Dankmar Adler, becoming his full partner in 1883. Together, Adler and Sullivan designed nearly two hundred residential, commercial, religious, and mixed-use buildings, primarily in the Midwest. Adler and Sullivan were highly regarded not only for their robustly modern and iconoclastic architecture—which illustrated Sullivan’s dictum “form follows function”—but for Sullivan’s complex and organic ornament. Their best-known buildings include the Auditorium Building in Chicago (1886-1890); the Wainwright building in Saint Louis, Missouri (1886-1890); the Schiller Building (1891) and the Stock Exchange (1893-1894) buildings, both in Chicago; and the Guaranty building in Buffalo, New York (1894-1895). It was also during this time that Sullivan became the leibermeister of Frank Lloyd Wright, who worked for Adler and Sullivan from 1888 to 1893. —Art Institute of Chicago

This shadowbox-framed piece of proscenium plaster from Adler and Sullivan’s Schiller Theater (later Garrick Theater) is a rare artifact of Chicago preservation history. After a team of salvagers headed by Richard Nickel rescued ornamental plaster from the doomed theater in 1961, pieces of the proscenium were framed in these shadowboxes along with Richard Nickel photographic images to show the original installation in context which were distributed to museums and educational institutions. —Tim Samuelson

The interior of the Schiller Theater photographed by Richard Nickel before it was demolished in 1961.

(Photo: Wright)