Edgewater Beach Apartments opened in 1928 as a cosmopolitan, upscale alternative to huge mansions for Chicago’s wealthy elite. EBA was part of the Edgewater Beach Hotel complex, designed by Chicagoan Benjamin Marshall and owned by many of the same investors. EBA was intended to be rental apartments whose residents enjoyed resort-style living and access to the amenities of the hotel. The apartment’s 150 employees included maids, bellhops, carpenters, gardeners, security, and drivers for the two limousines on call for residents.

The Arcade along Sheridan Road has offered a changing lineup of shops and services from the very beginning to serve residents of the building and surrounding area. Retailers at various times included a barber, beauty shop, commissary, dressmaker, hatmaker, pharmacy, auto-parts store, dentist, doctor, gift shop and café.

EBA separated from the broader hotel complex in 1949 and became an independent cooperative, which it remains today. Lincoln Park was expanded in the 1950s as part of the northward extension of Lake Shore Drive, eliminating the private beachfront of EBA and the Edgewater Beach Hotel. Loss of the private beachfront and Americans’ changing vacation habits contributed to the decline of the hotel, which was razed in 1971.

EBA has remained an iconic presence in the city and Edgewater neighborhood even as the community changed around it. The building’s size, beauty—and, yes, pink color—have made it a landmark. EBA residents participate in a variety of neighborhood and citywide activities such as the annual Sheridan Road Art Walk, Edgewater Historical Society annual home tour, Edgewater Neighborhood Yard Sale, and Chicago Architecture Center’s annual Open House Chicago.

About Benjamin Marshall

Benjamin Marshall designed the Edgewater Beach Hotel and Apartment complex to give residents and visitors the sense they were on a lavish vacation on the Mediterranean. EBA and one of the hotel buildings were designed as giant croix fourchee (“forked crosses”), with terra cotta and granite flourishes. The hotel buildings were painted “sunrise yellow,” and EBA “sunset pink,” colors Marshall associated with the Mediterranean.

Born in 1874, Marshall never studied architecture but was a member of the American Institute of Architects on the strength of the many iconic designs produced by his firm, Marshall and Fox. His Chicago buildings include the Drake and Blackstone Hotels, South Shore Country Club (now South Shore Cultural Center), and the new Hotel Julian on Michigan Avenue. He was known nationally for designing theaters, including the Schubert Theaters in St. Paul and Kansas City.

Marshall was artistic, but much of his impact lies in his visionary skill as a real estate developer. He frequently had buyers for apartments before he broke ground on a project; in this regard he was a pioneer of the condominium concept in Chicago. He drove development of what is now East Lake Shore Drive, from the Drake Hotel east to the lakefront, designing most of the buildings in that stretch.

In his personal life, Marshall was a flamboyant presence who loved to hobnob with the famous and wealthy people he wooed as clients. He threw extravagant parties at his lakefront home and studio in Wilmette, which he designed to resemble a yacht club. He died in 1944.  To learn more about him, the Benjamin Marshall Society is an excellent resource.