The Chicago Water ToweR
"A Castellated Monstrosity"
Wilde gave his first lecture in Chicago on February 13, 1882 on the subject of The Decorative Arts, a lecture in which he included observations about civic beauty and the exterior architecture of buildings.
He often included local references, where possible, and on this occasion he took the opportunity to comment on Chicago's imposing (154 feet) 1869 water tower which he called "a castellated monstrosity with pepper-boxes stuck all over it".
He was reported as follows:
The Chicago Tribune, February 14, 1882.
Chicago's Wounded Pride?
"I can't help that"
The following day Wilde was interviewed by the Tribune. The reporter put it to him that he had wounded the pride of Chicagoans by slighting the tower. Wilde was unrepentant:
The Chicago Tribune, February 15, 1882.
Not the worst
Despite these strong opinions, the Chicago Water Tower was not the worst building Wilde saw in America. That distinction he was to reserve for the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.