SIUE Louis H. Sullivan Ornaments
(Southern Illinois University Edwardsville)
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About this Collection

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Albert W. Sullivan House lunette

Albert W. Sullivan House lunette

Louis H. Sullivan

Louis Henri Sullivan (1856-1924) is known today as a founder of the "Chicago School" of architecture. He and his Chicago partner, Dankmar Adler, were known for their multi-storied buildings and as developers of the skyscraper form. Sullivan's greatest contribution, however, may have been the architectural ornamentation that became synonymous with his work. His designs often embodied organic, natural forms (such as plants, leaves, or floral patterns), or were inspired by nature. Adler and Sullivan became one of the most productive architectural firms in Chicago and accepted projects in other cities, including St. Louis. Among the firm's most famous Sullivan-designed buildings were the Chicago Auditorium Building, the Chicago Stock Exchange Building, and the Wainwright Building in St. Louis.

The Digital Project

This digital exhibit features selected Sullivan ornaments owned by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) representing thirty-one buildings. They are accompanied by digitized historic photographs by Richard Nickel, provided courtesy of the Richard Nickel Committee. These images often show the architectural ornament as it originally appeared in the building Louis Sullivan designed. The featured ornaments are of various materials including terracotta, limestone, glass, and bronze. A wide range of types of architectural elements are represented, including pediments, lunettes, columns, and even an elevator. The Nickel photographs can be retrieved as a group by searching the collection using the keyword "Nickel." All images are provided for educational use only. For more information see the digital rights and permissions webpage.

This project was created by Lovejoy Library, SIUE, in 2009 and made possible by an access grant received in partnership with Roosevelt University from the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). The Project Director was Therese Zoski Dickman, who also wrote the home page text. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville acknowledges the assistance provided by Ward Miller (Executive Director, Richard Nickel Committee) and John Celuch (Design Director, Inlandesign; SIUE graduate; and curator of the SIUE Sullivan Ornaments Collection, 1969-1976). This support was vital to the success of the digital collection.

Roosevelt University's digital collection of 327 Sullivan ornaments and designs relating to the Chicago Auditorium Building (which now houses the University) is included in their digital archives. Roosevelt University's images relating to this project can be retrieved by searching the digital archives using an advanced search for "Auditorium Building" as a subject.

Chicago Auditorium Building.
Courtesy of the Richard Nickel Committee.

SIUE's Sullivan Collection

Richard Nickel, self-portrait, 1950s.
Courtesy of the Richard Nickel Committee.

Ornaments on Nickel's driveway, 1960s.
Courtesy of the Richard Nickel Committee.

In the early 1960s, SIUE sought to acquire notable artworks for its new campus. At the same time, Richard Nickel, an architectural photographer from Chicago, was seeking a "home" for the hundreds of Louis Sullivan ornaments that he had salvaged from scores of buildings before they were demolished. Nickel eventually sold his collection of Sullivan architectural ornaments to SIUE in 1965. He continued to gather additional Sullivan ornaments for the University until his untimely death in 1972 when the Chicago Stock Exchange Building, from which he was salvaging pieces, collapsed upon him. Many of SIUE's Sullivan ornaments are displayed in the Louis Sullivan Lounge on the second floor of Lovejoy Library. A renovation of the display featuring interpretative panels was completed in 2008.