The site of this building was originally occupied by the old Matteson House 2 (see Randall, "History of the development of building construction in Chicago," p.137), which was remodeled by Cobb and opened as the Wellington Hotel.
Originally the Chicago & Alton Railroad Depot, this limestone structure continued to serve as a passenger depot until 1971. Use of the building resumed when Amtrak service began in the mid-1980s. It currently also serves as offices for the Dwight Chamber of Commerce and meeting space for the Dwight Historical Society. The depot was included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Details of several Venetian palazzi were used freely for the light-colored stone and red brick Chicago Athletic Association façade, which follows the standard Venetian tripartite vertical division. While the entrance level is in an austere Renaissance style, Venetian Gothic runs riot from the second story upward: the fenestration is divided by colonettes terminating in ogee arches and quatrefoil tracery. At the tenth floor, two round openings with carved stone surrounds on either side frame the date of the club in Roman numerals. The façade terminates in a cornice resting on brackets with a high brick attic wall above. Upon entering the building, a short flight of steps leads to a room containing a 20-yard swimming pool framed by mirrored walls and a marble balcony above. Other features include various steam rooms, hot rooms, a gymnasium, running track, dining room, and bedrooms. Together the façade and interiors communicate a place of privilege, luxury, and leisure. Though the building has not been greatly changed since 1893, as of 2009 plans were underway to restore the façade and demolish sections of the building behind it to provide room for new development.
An exercise in Richardsonian weight and mass, the former Chicago Historical Society building is eighty feet high, organized as two stories and a basement, built of rock-faced red granite. Entry is gained at the center of the east front through a two-story porch with turrets at either side and a balcony at the second story level. The first floor fenestration is divided into groups of four very high rectangular windows with heavy transoms. The second floor windows are grouped into arcades with similar transoms. Gables mark the south and east sides of the attic story. Cobb's original interior included a two-story library running along the west end of the building to a hidden light well at its northwest corner, a lecture hall at the north end, and a museum above the lecture hall. Though subsequent occupants have greatly altered its interior, the building was designated a Chicago landmark in 1997.
Cobb had more commissions at the Fair than anyone other than Burnham's office. His love of the picturesque had ample scope and proved popular with both critics and the crowds. While the only Fair building still written about is Sullivan's, Cobb's works at the Fair were appropriate to the materials, functional, and beautifully expressive of the festive yet ephemeral nature of the Fair, more than those of any other Fair designer.