by Colleen Taylor Sen
Martin Roche (1854-1927) was the last surviving founder of the architectural firm of Holabird and Roche, world famous as the originators of the skeleton skyscraper type of office building.
Born in Ohio, he came to Chicago as a boy and as a young man entered the offices of the the famous architect William LeBaron Jenney (1832-1907), where he learned his profession. Here he met William Holabird (1854-1923), later his life-long partner. One of their first commissions after incorporating as Holabird and Roche was Graceland Cemetery.
Their legacy includes the design of several influential buildings, including the Marquette Building (140 South Dearborn Street) and the Gage Group Buildings (three buildings at 18, 24, and 30 S. Michigan Avenue between Madison and Monroe Streets). The latter, whose façade was designed by Louis Sullivan, was cited a Chicago architectural landmark in 1962. After Holabird’s death, his son, John Augur Holabird (1886 – 1945), took over the firm with John Wellborn Root, Jr., (1887-1963). It was renamed Holabird & Root and still exists.