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Take a walk down Prairie Avenue and you will be walking down a street that once housed titans of Chicago during an era of grandeur. Marshall Field and George Pullman called Prairie Avenue home, and at one time in the late aughts, so did I!
In honor of the Copa Americana and U.S. Soccer Federation Chicago being center stage for soccer once more (1994 World Cup!), here are 5 things you might not know about the U.S. Soccer Federation Chicago headquarters.
1) The U.S. Soccer Federation Chicago headquarters is actually two buildings.
Headquarters is not one, but actually two buildings: 1801 South Prairie and 1811 South Prairie. Built in 1892 and 1886 respectively, these buildings were two independent homes until the late 1940’s when the two were conjoined to create a unified courtyard.
2) 1801 South Prairie was built for the founder of Kimball Piano and Organ Company.
The homes of the U.S. Soccer Federation Chicago are quite historic. 1801 South Prairie was the last home built on the elite Prairie Avenue. 1801 South Prairie was built for William W. Wallace, founder of Kimball Piano and Organ Company. With a factory at 26th Street and California Avenue, Kimball created what was then the world’s largest piano manufacturing company. Today, it is the criminal court and Cook County Jail. Even to this day, there is still a Kimball grand piano right off the entrance on the first floor.
3) You can thank the proprietor of 1811 South Prairie for keeping your picnic lunches cold and fresh.
You know those coolers that use to keep your drinks cold and your sandwiches unspoiled? Those ones with the handles and the button on the side that you push to unlock the top? If you have one, you might notice that you have a cooler registered under the Coleman brand. The Coleman family built and lived in this home at the turn of the century, and their brand of travel coolers are still a staple to American roadtrippers even to this day. Check out some of my favorite Chicago date night restaurants.
4) The U.S. Soccer Federation Chicago headquarters isn’t the first corporation to call these homes HQ.
In 1973, printing giant R.R. Donnelley purchased the property for the head of its operations, not too far from the Donnelley plant and factory located only a few blocks away on 21st and Calumet. Prior to that, the home had been used by other factions. It served as a boarding house, the Chicago branch of the American Institute of Architects, and even as the Daisy Hull School for Backward Children.
5) Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago came from the Kimball family at 1801 South Prairie.
An avid art collector, Mrs. William W. Kimball kept numerous works by great masters in her personal home. These include paintings by Monet, Turner, and Matisse. Today, 24 of these works are at the Art Institute. These works are donations under the W.W. Kimball name.
The mansions of the U.S. Soccer Federation Chicago are a hidden gem in the Prairie Avenue district of Chicago’s South Loop. For soccer fans, architecture, or history fans, these buildings are mecca.
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