Pontiac Building

Address: 542 S Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL
Built By: 

Holabird and Roche

Year Built: 

About the Building

The Pontiac Building is part of Printer's Row, a cluster of buildings that housed publishing firms and printing companies in Chicago.

The building has a steel frame. Its brick walls don't support the structure; they're more of a thin skin clinging to the steel skeleton.

The most notable feature of the building is the oriels - the projecting sets of windows rising from the third floor to the 13th floor. The oriels hide the steel mullions inside.

There's a band of decorative terra cotta below the third floor.

There are some visual similarities to Holabird and Roche's Monadnock Building on Jackson Boulevard.

The Pontiac is the oldest surviving building designed by Holabird and Roche.


The first cafeteria in the country was located in the Pontiac Building. An organization called Noonday Rest, made up mostly of women employed on Printer's Row, ran the cafeteria in the 1890s.

In 1896, just 5 years after the building opened, there was an explosion on the 13th floor when employees of the Metric Granule and Tablet company were mixing chemicals. It blew out windows on the 12th and 13th floors.

The Chicago Correspondence School was located in the Pontiac Building in the early 1900s.

It recently housed the Printer's Row Restaurant.

Today, the Pontiac Building is an office building, with tenants ranging from insurance companies and law firms to a credit union, plus a Potbelly Sandwich shop.


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