Everybody knows about Hugh Hefner’s infamous Playboy Mansion in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of southern California.
If you’ve been around for long enough, you may recall that Hef actually first headquartered in the city of Chicago, and it was there that he christened his first Playboy Mansion.
The original mansion was a massive 72-room neo-classical French brick and limestone residence in the Gold Coast historic district of Chicago. It was strategically located at 1340 North State Parkway – within walking distance to the first Playboy Club.
Hefner owned the Chicago Mansion from 1959 until 1974 – when he moved full-time to his current home in LA.
The Chicago mansion was Hef’s prototype for his LA home and they share many of the same unique features such as a “woo grotto” concealed by a rushing waterfall. The Chicago mansion also featured an indoor pool with a bar underneath, accessible by descending a fireman’s pole. From the bar, you could look up to a full view of Hef’s bathing bunnies in the pool above. The Chicago residence also had a large game room, a bowling alley, and Hef’s infamous round, rotating bed.
Try as I might, I could not find ANY pictures of these unique features on the ‘net – and I spent hours looking. I’m sure there are some out there somewhere, so if you know of any, please do share!
Apparently, the third and fourth floors of the Chicago mansion were the designated “Bunny dorms” where rent for aspiring Playboy models and waitresses at the nearby club was a mere $50 a month.
The mansion dates back to 1899 when it was built for surgeon Dr. George Isham and his wife Katherine. The residence was designed by James Gamble Rogers who is also known for his academic buildings that grace the campuses of Yale and Columbia Universities.
In its early days, the home hosted grand parties with attendees such as Theodore Roosevelt and polar explorer Admiral Robert Peary.
Hefner purchased the property in 1959. After he sold the mansion in 1974, it was donated to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was later sold to a developer who converted it into seven luxury condominium units.
During Hef’s reign at the mansion, there was a brass plate on the door with the Latin inscription: Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare (“If you don’t swing, don’t ring”).
There’s our boy:
Love that guy.
In recent years, a couple of the ritzy high-dollar condo units have been up for sale, so we are able to get a peek inside to see how the mansion looks today:
Here’s a look at how that same room of the Playboy mansion appeared in the year 1960 when Hef lived there:
Apart from the groovy furniture, all of the unpainted wood-paneled walls and parquet floors remain untouched.
But Hef always had good taste – in houses anyway. He gravitates toward rich, luxurious and stately architecture.
In 2011 a full-floor (7,874 square foot) condo came up for sale in the former Playboy Mansion for $6,700,000. Most of these interior photos are from that unit.
This particular unit has 4-bedrooms and 5-baths as well as 4 fireplaces, an elevator, gourmet kitchen and an attached terrace.
Apparently, the apartment’s kitchen (pictured below) was once the location of Hef’s bedroom in the mansion!
Few relics from Hef’s swinging days remain at the Chicago Mansion. From what I’ve read, the notorious naughty peek-a-boo pool is no longer even in existence.
Nonetheless, the mansion retains most of its Victorian era features and is still a stunning example of classical French style architecture.
The ghost of Bunny’s past, however, will probably always haunt this place in reputation. Along with the intrepid ring-leader of debauchery, Mr. Hefner himself.