Powhatan Apartments

Powhatan Arpartments
  1. About the Powhatan Apartments in Chicago
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectureal style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Powhatan Apartments is an Art-deco skyscraper designed in 1927 by Charles L. Morgan & Robert De Golyer and built between 1928 and 1929 in Chicago, IL.

Its precise street address is 4950 South Chicago Beach Drive, Chicago, IL. You can also find it on the map here.

The Powhatan Apartments is a structure of significant importance both for the city of Chicago and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the Art Deco style. Because of that, the Powhatan Apartments was officially declared as a national landmark on January 12th 1993.

The building has been restored 3 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 1950, 2005 and 2017.

Building's timeline

Design completed
Construction begins
Construction completed
Declared NL
years ago
  1. 1950 - Restoration.
  2. 2005 - Restoration.
  3. 2017 - Restoration.

Architect and team

Charles L. Morgan & Robert De Golyer was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design.

Charles L. Morgan & Robert De Golyer was in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline, which usually involves many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the Powhatan Apartments a reality:

  • Charles B. Johnson & Son as the Main Contractor
  • Garard Trust as the Main Developer

Architectural Style

The Powhatan Apartments can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The Powhatan Apartments was completed in 1929, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The Powhatan Apartments reaches an architectural height of 269ft (82m). It has a total of 22 floors, served by 2 elevators.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1929, the Powhatan Apartments has mainly been used as Residential space.

About the residences

The Powhatan Apartments has a total of 40 residential units throughout its 22 floors.

269ft (82m)

Materials & Structure

The Powhatan Apartments uses a frame structure made of columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features Indiana limestone and terracotta on its two principal elevations, with some ornamental terracotta panels.

Other materials found at the Powhatan Apartments include, maple and sycamore veneer wood, used in the elevator cabin decoration, and glass, also found in the etched mirrors of the elevators to complete the decoration.


  • archive.org