Buildings of the Fort
Holabird & Roche designed over 60 buildings in the Fort. These buildings were constructed between 1889 and 1895 from 6 million bricks made on-site of clay mined from the bluffs of Lake Michigan.
A Walking Tour
Below is an overview of some of the buildings in the Fort, arranged in an order to allow a walking tour.
The tour starts at the south entrance to the Tower, the most remarkable structure in the Fort. The Tower was constructed in 1891 and modeled after the Campanile at San Marco, Venice, Italy, at a cost of $41,276. It served as an elevated water storage tank to house the water supply and to provide water pressure for the Fort. Originally, the Tower was constructed to be 228 feet tall. After structural problems were discovered in 1949, the Tower was shortened to the current height of 167 feet.
In the early days, Sheridan Road ran through the tower. In 1984, the tower was the first building designated a National Historic Landmark in the Fort.
The buildings to the east of the Tower were originally part of the Company Kitchens. The three buildings on the east and the three buildings on the west of the tower were constructed in 1907 and 1908. Just after WWI, these buildings were part of the hospital along with the Tower Barracks and temporary wood frame wards that covered the parade ground. They were interconnected at the second story by catwalks to facilitate movement among them. You can see the patchwork in the brick façade where the catwalks were enclosed.
Walk beneath the Tower to the north side. The buildings on each side of the Tower and connected to the Tower are the Tower Barracks. The next two buildings east from the Tower Barracks are the Artillery Barracks. Identical buildings to the Artillery Barracks are the Cavalry Barracks located west of the Tower Barracks. Built in 1905, the Cavalry and Artillery Barracks were superior living quarters built for soldiers in the Cavalry and Artillery units because of the importance of these units to the Army. There are four U-shaped buildings constructed for these two vital units. Pictured are the Cavalry Barracks.
Walk east to Patten Road and continue across Patten Road around Logan Loop. The homes on this loop are the officer’s quarters – single family style. There are 31 officer’s mansions, as they are now called post-renovation, and they were built between 1890 and 1892. These homes were built for roughly $8,100 each. There are 16 lieutenant’s quarters and 15 captain’s quarters. The Lieutenant’s Quarters are distinguished from the Captain’s Quarters by the single third floor window, whereas the Captain’s Quarters have a double third floor window. This subtle difference indicates the rank of the officer. Additionally, the front entry has a recessed porch and an arched entry on the side of the porch on the Captain’s Quarters. Around the Korean War, many of these buildings were converted to multi-family dwellings and can be distinguished by the two front doors.
There are two Queen Anne style homes at the most eastern lots on Logan Loop; these are the Commandant’s and Highest Ranking Officer’s Quarters. The north home was for the Post Commander and his Deputy was in the south home. (A third residence at the end of MacArthur Loop, the northern-most Loop you will pass in a few minutes, was built for a senior Colonel differing from the lower ranking officer’s quarters.
Continue walking around Logan Loop back to Patten Road. Walk north (now you are on Leonard Wood East) to the duplex homes on the east side. The first of these is a Lieutenant's Quarters. It has been said that George S. Patton lived in the north half of this first duplex when he was stationed at the Fort as a Lieutenant. The next two duplex buildings are larger and were originally Captain's quarters. These duplex homes were built from 1905-1910 from plans issued by the Office of the Quartermaster General (not Holabird & Roche) at a cost of roughly $12,700 each.
Walking north, continue around the Parade Grounds to Leonard Wood North. The Forest Preserve has placed signs around the Parade Grounds with more history and information about the area. Please stop to read these interesting facts.
The grand building on the north side of the Parade Grounds is the BOQ (Bachelor Officers’ Quarters). The BOQ was built in 1892-1893. It functioned as a “hotel” for visiting officers, temporary quarters for newly arrived officers, and a social club for entertainment. BOQs are found on every base, but this one was considered luxurious with mahogany-furnished two-room suites with private baths and porch access overlooking the parade ground and tower. In 1954 there was a fire in the west side of the building which housed the Officer’s Club. When rebuilt, it was considerably altered and red brick was used. The bricks have now been stained to match the original cream-colored bricks.
Continue west around the Parade Grounds and turn south proceeding to Whistler Road. The building at the “T” intersection was the Guardhouse, which also housed the jail. It was built in 1890 for $28,247. Wings were added in 1905 and 1906 to increase prisoner capacity from 72 to 120. There are solitary confinement cells in basement, which still remain intact today with the lock mechanism permanently disabled. From 1969 until the post closed, the building was mainly used as a museum, including the coach in which General Sheridan rode as one of the exhibits. The building is currently used by the Midwest Young Artists’ Center for music lessons and concerts. Renovation and reuse of this building was made possible by a US Department of Education grant awarded in 1994. The renovation included two rehearsal halls, a recording studio, and six coaching studios.
Walk east on Whistler Road to the Infantry Drill Hall (pictured). It was built as an equestrian and infantry drill hall. Over half an acre was inside the building. It was also used for polo matches and horse shows in times of peace. In 1945, the hall was converted to a gymnasium with an indoor track for the troops.
The Cemetery is on the far north side of the Fort. It can be accessed from Sheridan Road. The Cemetery was an early priority of the construction of Fort Sheridan and was given the designation of a Military Burial Ground. The first burial was in 1890 of First Sergeant Edward B. Quinn, who died on October 5, 1890. Veterans from nearly every war from the Civil War to Vietnam to present day are buried there including 9 German POWs. The Cemetery remains active but burial now is limited to active and retired members of the armed forces. See the Cemetery page for more information.