The Chicago Tribune

The 20s come roaring back at Lawrence House

Uptown was a thriving entertainment hub when the glamorous and upscale Lawrence House hotel was built in 1928. The music plays on today at venues such as the Aragon Ballroom and the Green Mill Jazz Club, but the hotel in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood .closed long ago and fell into serious disrepair.

The Lawrence House, 1020 W. Lawrence Ave., is within the Uptown Square Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It is the latest, and so far the largest, addition to Cedar Street’s Flats brand of rental properties.

The 13-story masonry building has 344 apartments in two towers and five street-level retail spaces. A Heritage Outpost coffee shop and cafe is brewing, and the Owen + Alchemy juice bar will open this fall. The lobby bar is awaiting licensure.

The apartments at the Lawrence House include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units in 25 floor plans. Most are studios. A handful of units were combined to create duplex penthouses, which have outdoor terraces.

The Lawrence House, 1020 W. Lawrence Ave., is within the Uptown Square Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It is the latest, and so far the largest, addition to Cedar Street’s Flats brand of rental properties.

The 13-story masonry building has 344 apartments in two towers and five street-level retail spaces. A Heritage Outpost coffee shop and cafe is brewing, and the Owen + Alchemy juice bar will open this fall. The lobby bar is awaiting licensure.

The apartments at the Lawrence House include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units in 25 floor plans. Most are studios. A handful of units were combined to create duplex penthouses, which have outdoor terraces.

All apartments have laundry machines, window blinds and glass-enclosed showers with rain heads. Glazed concrete and vinyl plank flooring are per plan.

Kitchens are equipped with retro SMEG refrigerators, microwaves and electric stoves and ovens. Two-bedroom units have dishwashers.

Two kitchen color packages are available: black appliances and stainless cabinets or white appliances and walnut cabinets. Brightly colored refrigerators are furnished at random.

The model apartment is a 300-square-foot studio on the eighth floor. Against one wall is the kitchen niche, which has a compact four-burner electric stove with oven, microwave, refrigerator and sink. A wall-mounted cabinet and two open shelves provide storage. The bathroom has a glass-enclosed shower with subway-tile surround, small vanity and extra-deep medicine cabinet. A combination clothes washer and dryer is tucked in the walk-in closet. The main room is furnished with a sofabed, dresser, expandable table and two dining chairs. Flooring in the kitchen and bathroom is glazed concrete; the floor in the main room is vinyl plank.

From the Lawrence Avenue entrance, revolving glass doors lead visitors to the grand lobby. The massive space is eclectically appointed with both vintage and modern furnishings arranged in conversation groupings. A formerly dilapidated hi-fi cabinet was rescued from a trash heap, refinished and outfitted with an MP3 player. A community table as wide as the room is well-lit and wired for power.

Overhead is a dramatic stained-glass ceiling and skylight, an unexpected discovery.

“It was covered over when we bought the building, but we had to use it,” said Cedar Street Creative Director Heather Fritz. “It had to be taken down by hand and cleaned and repaired. It was covered in cigarette smoke.”

Atop the building on the 13th floor is an indoor lounge with full kitchen as well as an outdoor deck with views of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago.

“The community spaces are an extension of your living room,” Heffron said.

On the lower level is the original indoor swimming pool bordered by a vintage mosaic-tile deck and topped with a curved ceiling. A 7,000-square-foot gym is equipped with cardio and weight-training equipment as well as a boxing ring. Locker rooms plus a bicycle storage room are nearby.

A backyard patio with lounge seating, grilling and dining areas, fire pit and dog run is under construction.

The Lawrence House is smoke-free and pet-friendly. Wi-Fi is complimentary throughout the building.

The Chicago Tribune | Pamela Dittmer McKuen