Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In Memoriam: 1960-2013 The Purple Hotel Lincolnwood, Illinois

In 1960 the “Purple Hyatt” was built
on Touhy
in Lincolnwood
in the state of Illinois

The bricks were blue purple
a mistake some claim
in truth
the architect protested
but the owners wanted purple 
and so the hotel was built
and called by all the Purple Hyatt

The vertical structural beams
were outside
white in contrast to the purple bricks

We loved this building
for its simplicity
for its beauty

It was our landmark and held our stories
from the 1960's and 1970's 
our stories of NOW conferences, weddings, first dates,
bar mitzvah parties and New Year’s eve events

In the 1980’s the gangsters took over
In 1983 there was a murder in the parking lot

We no longer went there
most of us were too old for NOW conferences and first dates
and we went elsewhere for weddings and bar mitzvah parties and events

In 2004 a red neon sign appeared on the roof
Red is not purple!
The sign was so wrong, so very wrong

The purple hotel stayed open
and a friend attended a New Year’s Eve party there
a good party, she said
"but we could tell, there were not many more years left for the hotel”

In 2007 mold was found in 208 of 225 rooms
at the former Purple Hyatt, the renamed Purple Hotel
and it was condemned

Still it was my touchstone
it was our landmark
when we drove down Touhy
past the building with the vertical white beams and the purple bricks
it told us where we were and who we were

In 2013 it ended
In August at the Lincolnwood Fest
and a few purple bricks were available for a donation of five dollars
people lined up around the block to get a purple brick
to remind them of the stories of their lives

I don’t have a brick
a brick is not my touchstone
a brick cannot contain my stories
a brick doesn't recall my memories

September 2013 demolition started and I mourned and took photographs week by week

September 25: No Trespassing No Bricks Available

Bricks carefully removed panel by panel - perhaps for sale or reuse?

 October 12: East end intact - west end coming down

November 1: Severe mourning as more bricks come down
View from east end at Lincoln Avenue, a few purple bricks remain, white structure the last to go

Smaller and smaller, going, gone, almost gone
My heart is broken: it is only a building but oh how it hurts


  1. Goeffrey Baer was on Chicago Tonight and said there were two murders at the Purple Hotel. He also said Stuart Levine, who was the governments star witness to some extent in Rod Blagojevich trials, often hosted sex parties at the hotel where illegal drugs were consumed by attendees. But before all that, it was a wonderful hotel that held many wonderful memories for many of us.

  2. The purple hotel--your poem and the photos-reminded me of how much that hotel was "there" for me for so many years and I hadn't realized it.

  3. I'd never heard of the Purple Hotel, but I love this poem! I think it nicely captures the passage of time and how something as simple as a neighborhood hotel can factor into our memories as we reflect back on our lives. Beautifully written!