Vonnegut Hall, University of Chicago

This round tower sits on the edge of the land used by the newly minted University of Chicago and is directly next to the Field Museum. Though it clearly is part of the active university, it holds the odd legend of never being open: the front door remains locked at all times. The stark white marble and dark red brick of the building make it a standout landmark among the other university buildings, earning it the nickname of “The Blood Tower” and all manner of rumors that would go along with such a grim name.

Oddly shaped building with a mysterious past (4)
Center of curiosity on the university campus  (3)

The construction on this uniquely designed building  began in 1873 after the Chicago Fire and completed in 1877. Originally built to house the law firm of Lammers, Reece, & Meadows, the building was left to rot after it caught fire in a mysterious incident in 1888. Whispered tales speak of the proprietors and dark arts being the cause of the fire, but as all three of the firm’s lawyers were killed in the fire, the truth will never be known.  Shortly afterwards, the land and what remained of building were purchased by Marshall Fields to be included in what would become the University of Chicago when it was formed in 1891. As part of the university its use it somewhat of a mystery as the front door remains locked at all times and no one ever seems to enter or exit from the building…yet, activity can clearly be seen inside the building. Officials of the university refuse to comment as to the use of the building or who is inside. Stories abound about strange lights, odd smells, and weird noises coming from the land surrounding the building is nothing new. If examined very closely, one can still find smoke stains on the white marble here and there about the building.



I used an image I found online, I think it is a building in the mid-west somewhere…location was not important as much as the building. I wanted something oddly shaped that would stand out. I used the same filter from Filter Forge to make this modern building an old twist and I think it turned out extremely well.

Yeah, that Kurt Vonnegut. I read “Cat’s Cradle” and “Slaughterhouse-Five” when I was in college and fell in love with both novels. Never managed to read more of his work, but these two books have stuck with me over the years. Plus, Vonnegut is just a weird-cool name….so it works. The name of the law firm is the last name of some of my buds, and I figured it would be fun to include them in the setting in some way, and given this building’s past, perhaps they are not dead after all…

While I like the idea of Blackwood being part of the Field Museum, I of course, recognize the fact that during the 1890s- 1920s science was just beginning to gain social acceptance and move to the forefront of making people’s lives easier and safer. Thus, putting a single building between the University and the Museum was just a logical choice. Now, is it part of Blackwood, well, we will have to wait and see.

As for the fire that engulfed the building, I think a dark ritual that kills everyone involved and leaves a haunting memory behind….very fitting.


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