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Home Insurance Building

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Home Insurance Building

The Home Insurance Building
General information
Type Office
Location Chicago, USA
Coordinates 41°52′47″N 87°37′55″W / 41.8796°N 87.6320°W / 41.8796; -87.6320Coordinates: 41°52′47″N 87°37′55″W / 41.8796°N 87.6320°W / 41.8796; -87.6320
Completed 1884
Demolished 1931
Roof Originally 138 ft (42 m)
Top floor After addition of the final two floors – 180 feet (54.9 meters)
Technical details
Floor count 10 (later 12)
Design and construction
Architect William Le Baron Jenney

The Home Insurance Building was a skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. It was the first building to be called a skyscraper.[2] It was also the first tall building to be supported, both inside and outside, by a fireproof metal frame.[3] It used to stand at 138 ft (42 m). William Le Baron Jenney designed the building.


The Home Insurance Building was built in 1884 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was the first tall building to use structural steel in its frame.[4] Most of its structure was made of cast and wrought iron. While the Ditherington Flax Mill was an earlier fireproof-metal-framed building, it was only five stories tall.[5]

The site

The Field Building, later known as the La Salle Bank Building and now the Bank of America Building, built in 1931, now stands on the site. In 1932, owners placed a plaque in the southwest section of the lobby reading:

This section of the Field Building is erected on the site of the Home Insurance Building, which structure, designed and built in eighteen hundred and eighty four by the late William Le Baron Jenney, was the first high building to utilize as the basic principle of its design the method known as skeleton construction and, being a primal influence in the acceptance of this principle was the true father of the skyscraper, 1932.


  1. Home Insurance Building at SkyscraperPage
  2. Smith, Chrysti M. (2006). Verbivore's Feast: Second Course: More Word & Phrase Origins. Farcountry Press. pp. 289. ISBN 1-56037-402-0, 9781560374022 . Retrieved 2012-01-19. "The word skyscraper, in its architectural context, was first applied to the Home Insurance Building, completed in Chicago in 1885."
  3. "Home Insurance Building". Retrieved 2013-11-08.
  4. Broad Street Station (1881) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a 6-story building designed by Wilson Brothers & Company, had a structural steel frame, and was one of the first buildings in America to use masonry not as structure, but as a curtain wall. It was later greatly expanded by Frank Furness. See: George E. Thomas, "Broad Street Station," in James F. O'Gorman, et al., Drawing Toward Building: Philadelphia Architectural Graphics, 1732–1986 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986), pp. 140–42.
  5. Kennedy, Maev (8 April 2005). "World's first iron-framed building saved". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-11-08.

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