By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

The Hotel Monaco which opened in 1999 was originally built as a hat factory for the D.B. Fisk & Company in 1912. Daniel Brainard Fisk was born in Upton, Ma. in 1817 and came to Chicago in 1853 where he developed the largest wholesale millinery business in the U.S. After the original Fisk building burned to the ground in the Chicago Fire of 1877, D.B. Fisk moved to a six-story building on the site where the Marshall Field Annex Building is now located. When Marshall Field wanted to construct the present Annex, they built the 13-story D.B. Fisk building at South Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue in 1912. The architect was George L. Harvey who designed the Mt. Sinai Synagogue (now the Community Bible Fellowship), the Goulden Chapel addition to the Grace Episcopal Church, the Desmond Theater, Knights of the Maccabees, White's Art Hall and provided supervision of the Carnegie Library and the Michigan National Bank.

“Fiskhats” were manufactured and marketed from this D.B. Fisk & Company building until 1958 when it was sold to the Oxford House organization. Oxford House runs group homes for recovering alcoholics and substance abusers. In its simplest form, an Oxford House provides a democratically operated, self-supporting and drug free home. By 2010, the total number of Oxford Houses increased to 1,458 with a total of 11,392 Oxford Recovery Beds. In 1998, Kimpton acquired the D.B. Fisk building from Oxford House and converted it into the hip and quirky Hotel Monaco. After a $3 million guestroom renovation in 2011, the Monaco provides amenities that are unique and one-of-a-kind. Here's how Kimpton's publicity department describes the renovation:

For the room refresh, renowned interior designer Susan Caruso blends a bold, yet modern flair, including a collection of objects that nod to the world traveler. A modernized steamer trunk nightstand in rich earth tones displays a red Moroccan lamp…. Cream and gridlines of gold set off the turquoise bed throw and skirting, while refreshing blue and green shapes dance across a festive boudoir pillow.

Monaco Chicago is home to the Tranquility Suite, a lavish two-room suite which encourages unreserved relaxation with its peaceful design, soothing textures, serene colors, and restful amenities such as in-room massage rollers, sound machines, sleep masks and towel warmers.

A French deco-inspired look contributes to this hotel's travel theme, as do the rooms named for international destinations such as Tokyo and Paris. The hotel is pet-friendly and will even supply your room a pet goldfish-in-a-bowl upon request. Round starburst dressing mirrors are a unique touch in the brightly colored guestrooms, where turndown is accompanied by such unusual amenities as lottery tickets or Pixy Stix candy.

*excerpted from “Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi”

About Stanley Turkel’s Books

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009) During the thirty years prior to the Civil War, Americans built hotels larger and more ostentatious than any in the rest of the world. These hotels were inextricably intertwined with American culture and customs but were accessible to average citizens. Stephen Rushmore writes in the Foreword: "Drawing from more than 40 years of industry experience including managing some of the largest New York City hotels, Turkel captures the spirit of each of these pioneers and relates their achievements to important lessons that we can learn from."
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011) These thirty-two featured hotels have defied the passage of time for a variety of reasons, many explicable, some beyond explanation, all miraculous. Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D. writes in the Foreword: "Stanley Turkel is unique in his passion about the history of the United States lodging industry; he pursues and shares this passion by compiling information about great hoteliers and hotels for articles, updates for his clients, and this, the second of his two hotel books."
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013) All the eighty-six hotels featured in this book have unique and singular stories describing their creation, survival and revival. The book contains eighty-six antique postcard illustrations and a Foreword by Joseph McInerney, President and CEO Emeritus of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf (2014) Hotel Mavens tells the interesting stories of the following pioneers and the hotels they built and operated:

    • Lucius Boomer, one of the most famous hoteliers of his time, was Chairman of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Corporation.
    • George C. Boldt who was the genius of the original Waldorf-Astoria. It was said of him that he made innkeeping a profession and, more than any man, was the creator of the modern American hotel.
    • Oscar of the Waldorf was the superstar of his time and one of the stalwarts who managed both the original and the current Waldorf-Astoria.

Sam Roberts in the New York Times wrote: "Nostalgia for the city's caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel's Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf". The fact-filled book by Mr. Turkel, an industry consultant, explains, among other things, the history of the hyphen (recently excised) in the name of the Waldorf Astoria, which inspired a mid-block street and even a song.

  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016) Lawrence P. Horwitz, Executive Director, Historic Hotels of America, writes in the Foreword: "This book is an excellent history book with insights into seventeen of the great innovators and visionaries of the hotel industry and their inspirational stories." These important and largely unknown biographies include Stewart William Bainum, Curtis Leroy Carlson, Cecil Burke Day, Louis Jacob Dinkler, Eugene Chase Eppley, Roy C. Kelley, Arnold S. Kirkeby, Julius Manger, Robert R. Meyer, Albert Pick, Jr., Jay Pritzker, Harris Rosen, Ian Schrager, Vernon B. Stouffer, William Cornelius Van Horne, Robert E. Woolley, and Stephen Allen Wynn.

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Hotel Witness:

For the past twenty-four years I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases.

My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • franchise/franchisor disputes
  • management contract disputes

I have been designated as the 2015 and 2014 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any potential litigation support assignments.