Preservation Beat

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Preservation and Development task force, and the HPKCC website, Help support our work: Join the Conference!


The Landmarks Commission meets 1st Thursdays, 12:45 pm, 33 N. LaSalle, room 1600.
Department of Planning and Development- Commission on Chicago Landmarks
33 North LaSalle Street, Suite 1600. Also given as 121 N. LaSalle, Chicago, IL, 60602
312 744-3200, TDD 312 744-2958
Reach website from

To contact concerning Commission dates, location of meetings, and agenda: Terry Tatum, 312 744-9147. Quadrangle Club Preservation Ball late April or early May- See Hist. & Pres.

2011? The Illinois House May 8 passed the Main Street act 110-0 with preservationist support and will be considered next by the Senate.

Businesses/commercial property owners: Did you know, it is not just city, state, and federal that have incentives for preservation. Cook County has an L tax category that could allow reduced taxes for 12 years if 50 percent of teh building's assesses value is invessted in upgrades.
Federal incentives include a tax credit on owneres' income taxes if certain investment criteria are met.

September 1, Thursday, 10 am. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks presents preservation awards for 12 structures that have undergone outstanding preservation and restoration and demonstrate "a remarkable commitment to Chicago's architeural and historic legacy" according to Commissioner Andrew Mooney.
Three of the four are in South and North Kenwood, the latter a Landmark District:
4727 S. Greenwood- James and Irene Pillars. Romanesque single-family residence that was severly damaged by fire in 2009.
4853 S. KLimbark Ave- David adn Rebecca Rubin. Exterior renovation of a Queen Anne.
4401 S. Berkley Ave. Exterior renovation of a threee-story graystone row house.

Presentation is at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington.

Landmarks Illinois online peer reviewed guide to Restoration Resources:

Chicago Theological Seminary- see in Preservation Hot.

The Shoreland received landmark designation September 8, 2010. Blackstone Library was referred to committee and will likely be approved by City Council in October.

A suit against Edgewater Historical Society, alleging the latter's advocacy for preservation of an orange rated property cost a sale and adversely affected property values, was dropped in August 2010.

Process advances on Landmarking the Blackstone branch libary. Approved by the Commission in July. Next is City Council

According to the Herald of May 12, 201o, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks favorably passed the status May 6, 2010. So it's on to the City Council Landmarks Committee and then full City Council. Congratulations to Friends of Blackstone Library, a committee of the HPKCC.

and on the Shoreland, which is approved maybe needing still City Council approval.

HPKCC has become fiscal agent for a new quick fund for documentation and support services, funded by Driehaus Foundation and called Southside Preservation Action Fund, qv. Funded to date: study of qualification for landmarking or registry of Gropius Michael Reese buildings (rejected by the city but in Dec. 2009 the Illinois State Preservation Agency nominated the buildings to the National Register of Historic Places. 4 of the 8 were already torn down by then) and a structural soundness engineering study of the Harper Theater.
Visit Southside Preservation Action Fund (SPAF) to see what this committe has done, including a structual study of the Harper Theater. The current undertaking is an evaluation of the east and west sides of Woodlawn Ave. and the east side of University Ave. 55th to 59th to create a record, a document collection, and evaluation of effects of landmarking.

Some preservationists have expressed deep disappointment in U of C plans to move the stained glass windows of Chicago Theological Seminary to the new building on 60th and wonder what are the plans for the grand chapels and their organs.

The Urban Land Institute under Ald. Dowell conducted a major survey and charette on the future of the Rosenwald (Mich. Ave. Apartments)-- there is general agreement is should be saved, but at least two options are being set forth. Many testified that the famous leaders who live there gave hope to people at the time. It was a demonstration that quality affordable housing could work under stressed, slum-inclusive conditions.

See about the Illinois Appellate Court ruling against the Chicago Landmark Ordinance in the Landmarks Criteria page.

Michael Reese Hospitals with design/involvement by Walter Gropius. See in SPAF page (which funded a study).
Note: Demolition is under way, with no buyers in sight. Desist orders were ignored despite methods of removal reported to be in violation of construction and environmental codes. Meetings with departments are underway. According to radio April 20, the city had stopped demolition. Fears remain that this kind of bad or bad faith communication and/or stealth will be frequent during Olympics projects.

Is the Kenwood Historic District in danger? Some new residents resist restrictions on what they can do with their property, and even with city permitting requirements.--Committee suggests preparing informational brochure so new buyers know what to expect.
But see on honors for a major rescue and restoration of 4845 S. Ellis. Efforts to rezone 1301-05 have been dropped after strong neighbor objection in the Kenwood Historic District.

See Doctors Hospital page. Also important is the question of sustainability in demolishing vs recycling buildings, for example re: Doctors Hospital. See:

Check the Harper Theater/Herald Bldg. page for latest-how much will be saved is in doubt, since the University fired its developer (after model RFP process), which was to restore the facade. See Harper Theater Request for Proposal page-- Decision made to preserve/reuse 53rd side, redevelop theater site in scale and resembling the theater facade.

See the Harper Court Sale page and the letter from Neighbors to Save Harper Court with petition. History of Harper Court. It appears few any longer support, or at least hold any hope for keeping any of the buildings as the RFP for HCt and the adjacent city parking lot moves forward. But there is emphatic support, expressed in reports to/of the TIF, for expressing in a development many of the original purposes and achievements of Harper Court.

Giordano's Pizza on July 14, 2008 showed its plans which includes restoration of the unusual facade. Done.

There is a preservation side to the controversy over siting the Olympic 2016 stadium in Washington Park. See in Olympics page. Hyde Park Historical Society is preparing an objection based on preservation and historical concerns.

The December 8 2007 53rd Street Vision Workshop: This largely attended conclave showed strong support for recycling old buildings for mixed use retail and residential.

Here: (shortcut to Endangered and Watch lists) (shortcut to Greenwood Row Houses) September '07 Landmarks Illinois Watchlist of 13 in Chicago includes Doctors Hospital, Michael Reese and St. Laurence in Grand Crossing.

Links to topics with their own pages

To History and Preservation home (including list of links).
To Preservation Bulletins and Hot/Quick Topics (includes "how it's done" examples- see Narragansett and Greenwood Row)
To Southside Preservation Action Fund
To Historic Preservation in Depth: essays about preservation issues, key spaces on the South Side.
To At the Hyde Park Historical Society- see articles on the work of the surveyors and tree/topographical researchers.
To Kenwood 40th Rail Embankment page- options for old infrastructure

To Landmark Designation Criteria.
To Landmark District for Hyde Park? Not so unlikely now
To Promontory Point Landmark and Endangered Status,
St. Gelasius. Harper Theater. Fountain of Time and Basin. Robie House
To article on Hyde Park Bank restor. and prize in Development page.

To Doctors Hospital page.

To Development page for Hyde Park Bank hall award-winning restoration and rehabilitation/
Community News. Tax breaks and preservation incentives. Tracking Community Trends. Development and Public Policy home. Zoning home. To Sprinkler Retrofit on proposals that could affect preservation and building viability. Also Tax
See the Historical Society website's Your House Has a History, on-line.

Quick News and Notes


Did you know: the 1957 fight to save Wright's Robie House in Hyde Park sparked creation of Chicago's Landmarks Commission? The fight started when an alert city clerk in the buildings dept., knowing of Marian Despres's preservation work, told ald. Leon Despres of the demolition application.

Next fights:

Chicago Theological Seminary and its glass.

Washington Park neighbors apprise us that the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless intends to tear down the Irwin House, a fine old large home of to-us-unknown historicity, being used as a community center and historic society, in conjunction with housing for adjacent vacant lots. Irwin was a pioneer African American in the area. The area is under teardown-buildup and gentrification pressure. The matter is under inquiry by several preservationist and community-based organizations. The address is 128 E. 58th St. Local support group is Washington Park Community Coalition, 773 493-0754.

Proposed new approach allowing planned development status and flexibility to historic buildings that don't meet the current 12,500 sq. ft. threshold endorsed by preservation, commerce and building owner groups. Would solve problems such as Del Prado without need for zoning appeal.

Hyde Park Herald, September 2, 2009. By Sam Cholke

A change to zoning ordinance by downtown Alds. Brendon Reilly (42nd) may open th door for landmarked buildings to be redeveloped as "planned developments." That change would allow for greater leeway in changing zoning and altering the interior space on landmarked building and endangered historically significant buildings through a public hearings process.

Currently, buildings smaller than 12,500 square feet cannot go through the planned development process. The change is meant to spur reuse of historic buildings downtown, but will affect future reuse of buildings in Hyde Park, like the Del Prado, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd., among others. The Del Prado's owners recently ran into red tape when attempting to redevelop the former rooftop home of the House of Eng, a storied gathering place for South Siders that closed decades ago.

The floor area, minimum lot size, open space and building height "may be deviated from if that relief is necessary for the rehabilitation and reuse of these structures," sections of teh amended ordinance read.

The ordinance is sponsored by Reilly, Ald. Bob Fioretti (nd) and Ald Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) in City Council.

Preservation Chicago, Landmarks Illinois and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Building Owners and Managers Association endorsed the ordinance. The full council will vote on the ordinance at the Sept. 9 meeting.


April 20, Monday, 5:30 pm. People Learned about Walter Gropius and the endangered Bauhaus-derived buildings at Michael Reese Hospital (See also May 17 tour.) Gropius in Chicago : A Legacy on the Brink
(1.0 CES, AIA) (IDCEC credits pending)

Date: Monday, April 20, 2009 at (and contacts: Registration required): Hafele America Company - Chicago Showroom, 154 W. Hubbard St, Chicago IL 60654. Sherry Kaye, Showroom Marketing Manager, Tel: 312.467.2225 x222 Fax: 312.329.0235. Mail to:

Reception: 5:30 - 6:00pm (beverages & hors d'oeuvres), Seminar: 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus and one of the undisputed world leaders of architecture during the twentieth century, is generally not known to have executed works in Illinois . However, new architectural research has revealed that the virtually unheralded site of Michael Reese Hospital on Chicago 's South Side contains not one, but a collection of Gropius works, commissioned over an impressive period of 15 years. At this site, Walter Gropius executed his only built work in the State of Illinois , a surprisingly complete portrait of the artist, comprising site planning, urban design, and execution of individual buildings.

Join us for an important lecture by Grahm Balkany of the Gropius in Chicago Coalition [], who will detail his exciting research into Walter Gropius's mostly forgotten role in Chicago . Mr. Balkany's project indicates that the Michael Reese Hospital campus has at least 8 buildings done with Gropius's heavy involvement. This is in addition to his master planning for the campus and the region, and urban design issues for the area of Michael Reese. Visit also

With the site now purchased by the City of Chicago for intended residential redevelopment, current plans call for the razing of the entire hospital site, leaving only one building out of 30 standing. In the process, Chicago 's built Gropius legacy, a tremendous asset and tangible opportunity, would be entirely lost.

Join us for this timely seminar and become informed about this intriguingly forgotten history, current proposals, and possible alternatives. The seminar fulfills 1.0 CES AIA credits. IDCEC credits are pending at this time; we will update our website when the lecture is approved.

May 17 2009, Sunday, 2 pm. Tour the Walter Gropius endangered Michael Reese Hospital buildings, with Grahm Balkany, commissioned by Southside Preservation Action fund to complete in Boston his research on Gropius and the properties. Meet under the brick arch at 29th and Ellis.
Join us for a free tour of the Michael Reese Hospital campus in Chicago , Illinois ! Co-sponsored by the Gropius in Chicago Coalition, Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond, and Preservation Chicago, the tour will be led by the GCC's head researcher, Grahm Balkany .

The Michael Reese Hospital Campus is the threatened and highly significant repository of Modernism on Chicago 's near South Side. With a master plan by Walter Gropius and several buildings executed with his heavy involvement, it is the only site in Illinois to bear his work. The understanding of Gropius's role in the site has only recently been brought into focus by on-going research, primarily from unique and heretofore-undocumented sources.

The entire hospital campus is presently threatened with demolition by the City of Chicago 's proposed Olympic Village, but the important Gropius buildings could easily be adaptively reused as part of the Olympic project. Even if the Olympics don't come to Chicago , the City’s stated intention is to demolish all but one structure on the site, resulting from a lack of awareness of these masterpieces of Modernist architecture. Demolition could start as soon as this summer.

Focusing on the Chicago works of Gropius, but also discussing most of the 32 buildings at the site, its planning, and landscape, the tour will be a highly informative, first-hand look at a prime and overlooked work of art. Topics of interest include urban renewal and social change on the Near South Side, changing trends in medical design, and Gropius's pioneering ideas in contextualism and climate-driven design. The similarly threatened Lake Meadows housing complex (by SOM) will also be discussed and viewed to a certain degree.

Architects and designers discussed on this tour include: Walter Gropius; The Architects Collaborative; Hideo Sasaki [Sasaki and Novak]; Lester Collins; Reginald Isaacs; John T. Black; Loebl, Schlossman, and Bennett; A. Epstein and Sons; Friedman, Alschuler, and Sincere; Gordon and Levin; and Schmidt, Garden, and Erikson.

The tour is expected to last between two and three hours and will involve extensive walking, mostly on hard surfaces and paths. Ample street parking is available (metered), in the vicinity of 29th and Ellis, and also along Lake Park and Cottage Grove Avenues. Interiors of the buildings will not be accessible.

A donation of $10.00, to help support the costs of continuing research, is suggested at entry. Reservations are not required.

For more information, please see the following:

The Gropius in Chicago Coalition
Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond
Preservation Chicago

Doctors Hospital.

Demolition permit for the historic, orange rated Eagle Pub on Blackstone/53rd (Giordano's). See below.

Pamela Johnson and Jarrell Robinson published a case in the Herald April 18, 2007 against demolition for redevelopment of the Booker bldg. sw corner of 47th and Cottage Grove. They called the building a worthy mixed use building that could be preserved and do the duty of the proposed replacement and that the new development threatens historic sturdy homes in back of the corner. More.

Back on the block: Meadville seminary, 57th and Woodlawn says University-led efforts to find space for a new seminary dormitory have fallen through and it intends to proceed with its expansion on Woodlawn, mostly destroying two houses by noted architects and that are part of the historic streetscape of Woodlawn Avenue.

Preservation Illinois has released its 2007 Endangered 7. They have a fine brochure.

The University of Chicago says it is uncertain and making no promises on the preservation facade easements with Landmarks Illinois that come with 5 buildings on Drexel near the Hospitals, acquired from Antheus recently. University was fully informed about the conditions and ways to physically work around the properties by Landmarks Illinois and local preservationists. LI and others hold the easements are unbreakable, traveling with the property and requiring third party agreement to any change or demolition, not just city approval.

Hyde Park Herald, August 29, 2007. By Nykeya Woods.

Landmark protection of five buildings near 56th street and Drexel Avenue recently purchased by the University of Chicago will keep them safe in the short term, but the university isn't making any promises for the future.

The buildings- 816-22 E. 57th St., 5654-56 S. Drexel Ave., 5636 S. Drexel Ave., 5601-5603 S. Drexel Ave., and 838-840 E. 57th St.--were purchased in July from New Jersey-based Antheus Capital in anticipation of hospital expansion. Several years earlier, the buildings' facades were certified historic and gained a one-time charitable tax deduction recognize by the Internal Revenue Service.

Preservation easement is one of the strongest preservation tools that we have. It's a legal agreement between a property owner and an organization," said Suzanne Germann, Preservation fund and easement Coordinator for Landmarks Illinois (L.I.). "They donate to us portions of their property to preserve in perpetuity."

While confirming the easement status, the university fell short of guaranteeing protection of the buildings. University of Chicago vice President of Real Estate Operations Jo Reizner said the easement status might be in question in the long term. "We're not sure of the status of the easements over time," Reizner said. "We have yet to discuss this at length with the Landmarks Commission."

Germann said there is no question regarding the easement, now or in the future. "Because there is legal agreement on the properties, [the agreement] travels with the property and not the owner," she said. "Property cannot be demolished or altered without our approval."

And Germann said that L.I. would never approve the demolition of a historic building, "especially with an easement on it."

The previous owners donated a preservation easement on all the properties in 2003, except one, the building at 5654-58 S. drexel Ave., which was donated in 2005, Germann said. Preservation easements stipulate that owners seek pre-approval from L.I. on any significant exterior change to the outside of the dwelling.

Nearly 440 preservation easements have been established in neighborhoods around the city and suburbs since the program began in 1976. Thirty-two preservation easements are located in Hyde Park and Kenwood.


Landmarks Illinois (Andrew Fisher) explained their easement program in the Sept. 19 Herald. He described it as a way for homeowners of properties certified as historically significant to take matters into their own hand through this legal mechanism. By donating easement to a qualified preservation organization, the owner protects the structure in perpetuity and receives a federal income tax deduction for the value of the easement. 37 structure in Hyde Park-Kenwood district are permanently protected. Contact Mr. Fisher at Landmarks Illinois for more information.

Charles Staples tells the Herald why the Rosenwald Apartments 47th and Michigan are significant and should be saved and rehabbed. Demolition of this building would be very costly and wasteful, adding to landfills instead of being an anchor, housing opportunity, and memorial to the foresight and compassion of Julius Rosenwald and associates. It was built with care and skill to last and be safe and can be again, working with the new alderman and Landmarks Illinois.

Harper Theater facade and Herald bldg. It will not be a theater, nor will the 53rd facade will be kept to anchor new upscale shops and the Harper side will keep much of the look and perhaps material of the theater after UC dumps its developer. On LI watch list for demolition.

Visit the Doctors Hospital page.

Robie House is likely to get some more state help. News from Nov. 22 2005 press conference at Robie House with the governor and mayor.

Former Shiloh Baptist in the 4900 block of Dorchester apparently resulted in a compromise. No work is evident at the fenced-off site as of May 2006. The church was by Solon Beman and is Orange-4 rated. The structure is also in the Kenwood Historic District.
Tempus Real Estate, the new owner ($1.6m) converter of "Shiloh Baptist" at 4840 S. Dorchester (Orange-rated, Solon Beman 1904 and in the Kenwood Historic District) into condominiums, promises the city and alderman Preckwinkle it will keep the facade and limit the number of units to 10-20 (likely 12) rather than the 32 proposed by a former owner, which caused an uproar. Alderman Preckwinkle's office says neighbors must be heard, Landmarks guards the facade. The owner says they plan a beautiful building.

Going, going, gone? Oakland houses esp. on Drexel are being clearing in and around the 4000 block of Drexel, often to clear land for faster sale for redevelopment. This is part of the historic boulevards mansion district but HAS NO HISTORIC PROTECTION AT ALL. The houses are often orphaned apart, so didn't get high designation in the city survey. (Some of the designations in the Survey, started in 1983, have been criticized. But a valid reason is often that the structures have been significantly altered--lost "integrity".) When on private property, there is often no recourse. Alderman Preckwinkle tried to put a stop on demolition of a 1870s Italianate and a Victorian, at 4022 and 4026 Drexel but the Commissioner of Buildings rejected the stop. Nevertheless, many locals consider the suddenness, without courtesy to the North Kenwood-Oakland Conservation Community Council, a violation of respect to community and neighbors.

A Big Hyde Park Landmark District: It looks like it's not coming at this time, and has no support from the University after near agreement under Hank Webber and with a push from Ald. Hairston. Boundary would have been University Avenue 55th to 58th, jog east to Metra (with maybe some south at the east end) and 55th to 59th. The first residents meeting (northwest corner) with the Commission was held July 2005; attendees generally said they were reassured.

And now Anne Stephenson (with UC's Civic Knowledge/Enhancing Assets) will present to groups and neighbors who contact her a module on how to research your home, its eligibility for landmarking/registry or inclusion as a contributing structure in an historic district.

LPCI is the umbrella for a new group surveying modern (WWII and after) buildings. Hyde Park Historical Society is participating. Perhaps not coincidentally, Illinois Institute of Technology campus (Mies Ludwig van der Rohe and Alfred Caldwell) is now in the National Register even though under 50 years.

The owner of the restored Grand Ballroom, 6351 S. Cottage Grove, is looking for old photos that will help in accurate facade restoration. A. Schcolnik, 773 324-6000, fax 773 784-3141,

HPHS with the U of C Civic Knowledge Project is doing photo documentary research on all extant records and photos of structures no longer standing in Hyde Park.

4 Orange structures are being watched: Harper Theater/Herald Bldg., Shiloh Baptist on 48thDorchester block (sold again), Illinois Central Hospital, a house on Drexel in the way of the 10-story UC research building.

Shiloh's shell (4840 S. Dorchester) will in any case be preserved per Ald. Preckwinkle and the Landmarks Commission personnel. With downsizing, the threat to character may now be diminished.

The 5623 Drexel bldg. is being torn down--the UC says it could not save it. IC (Doctors) Hospital is unlikely to be saved under hotel proposal, but may sit deteriorating until torn down for a project if neighbors vote the precinct dry. Shiloh is proposed for condo dev. A meeting will be caused by a skeptical Ald. Preckwinkle after ascertaining what the Commission will allow. Harper-poss. saving of the exterior should be announced this fall.

UC expansion:

On Thursday, January 13, 2005, Richard Saller, Provost of the University of Chicago, and Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward Alderman, held a community meeting at the International House to update and explain the 2004 Campus Master Plan. Another over-flow crowd of near 100 attended. To the relief of preservationists in the room, the UofC said that it did not plan to demolish nor build north of 55th Street (with the exception of the new Ronald McDonald House at 5440 Drexel), it did not plan any further demolitions in the 57th St/56th St/Cottage Grove/Drexel Av section (other than to build the new Bio Science Division Research Building at the NE corner of 57th and Drexel) and it would consider pursuing Chicago Landmark status for additional campus buildings. The Young Building at 5555 S Ellis (1909, Frost and Granger, originally a part of the larger "Home for Incurables" complex) is slated for demolition and the site redeveloped as expansion space for the Smart Gallery. Adaptive reuse of the building was considered but rejected. For further information contact Sonya Malunda, Office of Community Affairs, UofC, 773-702-4568. Top

Now, University expansion and purchases well away from its campus has alarmed many.

(Chicago Rehab Network sponsors many programs, including Senate bill 2329, recently reported out of committee, to improve the preservation and rehab chances of existing affordable housing.)

For preservation aspects to hopes for Doctors' Hospital, 58th/Stony, see Development and Doctors Hospital pages.

Old Cook County Hospital has now been saved through adaptive reuse.

St. Stephens church at 5640 S. Blackstone owner was again reprieved from foreclosure auction, until January 21, 2008. The owner seeks to find a partner to procede on development of townhouses while keeping the front facade.

Will Congress kill the popular preservation easement--Hyde Parkers have neglected this program and might want to get in under the wire

Hyde Park Herald, August 10, 2005. By Tedd Carrison

Many owners of historic Hyde Park property, long indifferent to a preservation incentive popular in other Chicago neighborhoods, may be spurred to action as an expert predicts legislative cuts will threaten the Landmarks Preservation Council's 24-year-old Preservation Easement Program.

Since 1980, this program has encouraged qualifying homeowners to "donate" the exteriors of their historic houses and courtyard buildings by offering a 10 to 15 percent IRS Income Tax Charitable Deduction. Donated buildings receive a plaque noting their distinction along with preservation guidelines that "run with the land in perpetuity"--indefinitely regulating alterations and additions, even when the properties change hands. "It's the only insurance that a home will remain intact," said Andrew Fisher, the program's director in Illinois. "[Buyers] have to like the property for the house because the house is staying there."

Fisher said the easement program has been popular in many other Chicago-area national registry districts but for unclear reasons, comparatively few Hyde Parkers have embrace it. "Considering how important it is, statistically very few have taken on the opportunity that the program allows," he said.

Maragie Smigel, broker principal and creative director of Hyde Park-based MetroPro Realty said that the many home owners are intimidated by programs that uphold rigid requirements or "stickler issues." She said that some property owners would prefer to forgo even basic structural maintenance than face the threat of fines if repairs go beyond the council's mandates.

Fisher said the program is not that stringent. "It's not that we've stopped expansions," he said. "It's that we've stopped insensitive expansions." While a financial boon to many historic property owners, Fisher said the program is becoming a fiscal drain to federal legislators and will likely be altered in "undesirable" ways as early as September. He hopes that residents previously uninterested or unfamiliar with the program will register before it's too late.

To qualify for the program, applicants must have a "contributing structure," generally 50 years old or older, within a national registry district. Fisher encourages interested parties to peruse LPCI's website at under the link "easements." Further inquiries should go to his direct line at 312 922-1742.

[Note again that this program is good if you want to make sure the property is not destroyed or defaced after you are gone. You pay a part of your tax savings to LPCI to monitor and advocate for your property in perpetuity. If that is not your interest, this program may not be for you and not be worth your share of the tax savings. This has no connection with the city 7-year freeze or the facade work rebate that comes with gaining national registry status.]


In October 2005 Ald. Preckwinkle documented in the Herald a case in Building Administrative hearing and circuit court that endangered both justice and preservation. The departments and city legal department apparently don't care about whether laws and codes are complied with but dog expensive homes with citations of supposed violations over and over and to collect fines. She said, "If the owners of older buildings are going to be asked for additional payments reflecting the additional burden of maintenance on older homes, preservation efforts are in trouble. ...if the goal is collecting money, challenging buildings with difficult owners will be ignored." The alderman will in turn dog the departments during budget hearings. She asks that any with similar experiences contact her office at 773 536-8103. Top

Hyde Park Historical Society Preservation Committee

The committee recommended 10 sites in the area to the Commission in spring 2005. None are in imminent danger, some are UC buildings in the Master Plan to be demolished, and the object is at least to have the distinctive role of these buildings honored--including recent buildings. The 10 are:

December 1, 2005 the Committee recommended to the Chicago Commission on Landmarks:

Last June Roberts Temple Church of God and Christ, the church that hosted Emmit Till's funeral, was among sites recommended and the Commission recommended it to City Council last month.

Pioneers of the Kenwood Landmark District were honored at the February 23rd 2007 Hyde Park Historical Society dinner.

These were South East Chicago Commission, Kenwood Open House Committee, and Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Receiving the Marian and Leon Despres Award were Bob Mason, Diane Gray and Jean Laves, and David Mosena for their respective organizations. Top


The committee's projects nearly done include resource book documentation of the lost built environment for Regenstein Special Collections and the Society, oral history of owners of the Urban Renewal townhouses, and now a similar project on the north Hyde Park workmen's cottages.

The Hyde Park Historical Society Preservation Committee is researching, considering and consulting with several citywide, state and national preservation organizations on many issues throughout old Hyde Park Township including the future of the Harper Theater and Herald building(s). Representatives met with the University to seek information. This active and growing committee is reviewing much these days; part of the information in this page is based on their research. See more based on their work in Preservation Hot Topics. Contact Jack Spicer, 773 324-5476. The group is cautiously exploring the districting question for Hyde Park and there have been small exploration/informational meetings, in light of the first district in Hyde Park itself, the Greenwood Row Houses.

September 20, 2004 Jack Spicer of the HPHS Preservation Committee wrote that any willing to work with Bam Postell of the Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee and Shawn Kingzette of The Care of Trees Inc., on a development of walking tours on the Great Trees of Hyde Park-Kenwood should contact Bam at 773 288-7054. September 27 [2004] we will map pre-settlement oaks of Kenwood. Other projects include cottonwoods and willows, Wooded Island and adjacent in Jackson Park, University of Chicago and vicinity...

More work should follow. Current project include:

September 16 2004 committee members reset the last Hyde Park concrete "V for Victory" WWII local monument, damaged in sidewalk construction. The Committee is working with 5th Ward Office to inventory such historic resources.

The committee prepared a survey of slate sidewalks and brick alleys that are (only) protected in spirit according to Landmark Commission staff. Joe Marlin 773 324-9221 leads the project. The Kenwood Open House Committee is the community group that interfaces with the Commission.

Joe Marlin (a leader of the group that secured HP's first landmark district, Greenwood Row Houses) is doing a photo survey of the buildings and unusually geometric decoration on Woodlawn between 53rd and 55th.

The committee under Mary Schlessinger 773 28-5920 is gathering information on and inspecting collections of photographic material from the Urban Renewal era as well as a photo archive of threatened buildings with plat id and info. This has become a Hyde Park Historical Society Project, funded by the University of Chicago Civic Knowledge Project. The finished hard product will be in Regenstein Library Special Collections, it's hoped it will also be online.

Group to inventory historic sites after close call

Hyde Park Herald, October 6, 2004. by Mike Stevens

A recently damaged World War II remnant on Blackstone Avenue might result in city work crews in Hyde Prk and Kenwood getting briefed on nearby historic structures before road or sidewalk work begins.

During a sidewalk repaving project earlier this summer, city work crews unknowingly broke off parts of a concrete "V" curb structure that is one of Hyde Park's last "Victory Gardens," a wartime tradition of planting vegetable and flower gardens in support of the war effort.

A yet-to-be compiled inventory of local historic resources might prevent work crews from accidentally damaging or destroying other bits of Hyde Park history. 5th Ward chief-of-staff Kimberly Webb said. "It would be a good idea as a preventive measure to make sure that this doesn't happen again," Webb said.

The Hyde Park Historical Society has volunteered to compile a list of historic paving, slate sidewalks, fencing and incidental historic structures in the 5th ward. The list would help 5th Ward staffers advise work crews on locations and descriptions of anything they should watch out for during their projects, historical society member Jack Spicer said.

"We would like to be a resource to the alderman's office," Spicer said. Spicer also hopes to meet with Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, whose 4th Ward includes the historic South Kenwood neighborhood, home to the areas's best examples of historic paving and slate sidewalks.

An alert neighbor kept the work crew from discarding the loose debris of the Blackstone V-Garden," Spicer said. The cracked concrete flanks a V-shaped plot of dirt which would have likely held brightly colored flowers during World War II. A flag planted at the apex of t he "V" would have risen above the florid "V," representing"V is for Victory."

"I'm really glad it's there. It's part of Hyde Park history," said Mary Cobb, who has lived on the block for 12 years. In an effort to free up industry for the war effort during both world wars, the government promoted community gardening with patriotic posters bearing slogans such as "Our food is fighting," and Every garden a munition plant." A World War I poster advised Americans to "Can vegetables, fruit and the Kaiser too."


Preservation easement programs

Landmarks Illinois has been accepting such easements since 1972. Now c450. Properties are protected in perpetuity (LI permission being needed for changes and LI having to get a cash payment) in exchange for a one-time tax break. Call 312 922-1742 x22, Andrew Fisher at To get the breaks the property has to qualify as part of a historic district or to be on the National Register.


Fights in progress and Watch lists of endangered places

The former Eagle Pub, Giordano's 5311 S. Blackstone is the latest focus of Alderman Preckwinkle and preservationists

With filing of demolition permits (not yet reviewed by the Landmarks Commission and Dept. of Planning), Alderman Preckwinkle faces a new dilemma. Preckwinkle had been trying to work with the owners to save at least the facade of the small business building that has historic, architectural and streetscape value and is on the Orange List of the Chicago Survey of places of historic value. What the Alderman's options are are not clear. She could certainly use zoning powers. Local preservationists such as Jack Spicer are encouraging residents to show support and encouragement to the alderman to seek a reasonable solution. The owners, Giordano's and architects say there is no workable solution and they can only put some of the terra cotta tiles on the facade of a new 2 or 3 story expansion restaurant.

One can anticipate that neighbors will be skeptical about expansion of the restaurant in the first place, having had some problems already with Giordano's, which is also located next to Spruce Park, whose advisory council had complaints about operations and facilities there.

From Alderman Toni Preckwinkle’s (4th) Report in the January 17, 2007 Hyde Park Herald concerning Giordano’s/former Eagle Pub redevelopment

… Just last week the Commission on Chicago Landmarks honored the work of Marian Despres by rejecting an ugly and irresponsible plan for taking the façade off the Farwell building and carelessly smearing it across a multi story parking garage. Blair Kamin was so stunned by the commission’s staunch defense of real preservation, he wrote in the Tribune, “Pigs flew.” Nonsense. Pigs don’t fly. Sometimes people do the right thing.

We have the opportunity to do the right thing in Hyde Park in a remarkably similar case. There is an orange-rated commercial building located at 5311 S. Blackstone Ave. known to people under 45 as Giordano’s and to the rest of us as the Eagle. It has a lovely terra cotta façade with more visual interest than most of 53rd Street.

Giordano’s has prospered in Hyde Park and wants to expand. The owner met with me and the staff of the Landmarks Commission to discuss his needs. We believed we were in negotiation over the best way to preserve the façade while allowing the building to replaced with a larger structure that would serve the pizza business.

We were surprised when without notice to anyone the owner applied for a demolition permit. Then at a recent meeting, the owner’s architect proposed removing the façade and instead of restoring it, suggested sticking bits of it over t he exterior of a two story building in a manner I could not quite fathom. The owner’s representative and the architect insisted that this was the only feasible solution economically and structurally. I was particularly dismayed by Giordano’s refusal to work with a noted structural engineer, experienced in these matters, who volunteered via the Landmarks staff to work pro bono on the preservation of the façade.

It would break my heart to see Marian Despres’s legacy honored on Michigan Avenue and spurned in Hyde Park. Pigs will not need to fly. People will simply have to work together for sound preservation and healthy business growth.

Hyde Park Herald article, January 17, 2002, Ald. fights demo of former Eagle Pub. By Daniel J. Yorich

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) is opposing the proposed demolition of the building that houses Giordano’s of Hyde Park, which was formerly the watering hole of choice for thirsty neighborhood politicians and activists.

Located at 5311 S. Blackstone Ave., the single-story building housed the Eagle pub before the current owners bought the property in 1988 and transformed it into one of thee Giordano’s pizzeria chains first franchises. For decades, the Eagle was the gathering spot for local members of the Independent Precinct Organization of Illinois and those affiliated with the Hyde Park-Kenwood Leadership Conference, said Sam Adelman, a former IPO president .

The terra cotta fronted building was constructed in the early 1900s, [1923?] said Giordano’s manager Peter Skiourls and the restaurant has outgrown the building. Skiourls said the property’s owners want to demolish the building and construct a new site for the restaurant.

“This is an old building and we’re always faced with having to fix this and repair that,” Skiourls said. “It’s cheaper to tear down and build something designed for a restaurant’s needs. Hyde Park has been very good to us and we want to reinvest in the community and build a better place for our customers.

Preckwinkle said she is sympathetic to the restaurant’s desire to expand and modernize, but opposes the building owner’s plans to level the structure, which is ranked as an “orange” building in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey. Orange is the second most significant ranking of the six-color coded historical significance designations, given to properties that possess “some architecture that made them potentially significant in the context of the surrounding community.”

Preckwinkle and her staff said they plan to work with the Chicago Landmarks Commission to broker a compromise with the building’s owners, whom Skiourls identified as Chicago-based JBA Inc. The Landmarks Commission can place a 90-day hold on the application. The commission has yet to receive t he demolition application, which was applied for on Nov. 20, 2006. Constance Buscemi, a commission spokeswoman, said the application is still being reviewed by the city’s Department of Constructions and Permits and would then be forwarded to the Landmarks Commission for review.

Preckwinkle said she hopes to broker a compromise that would entail either the construction of a second story above the current structure, or, as an alternative, a plan that would preserve the terra cotta exterior of the structure a part of the new building.

Skiourls said he and the building’s owners are open to discussions with Preckwinkle and other city officials but said he’s not sure either of the proposals offered by Preckwinkle are economically feasible.



Hyde Park Historical Society Watch List (partial to date. Includes "possibly endangered") See list of the 10 recommended to the Commission on Landmarks.

Lost: (New) Emmanuel Lutheran in Woodlawn, 6401 S. Kenwood (1926 Thomas Bishop). Neighboring church demolished it in September 2004 for a parking lot.


Chicagoland Watch List of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (now Preservation Illinois). Complement to the "Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois" list. The 2007 list is now out, released at a January 17, 2007 press conference at City Hall.

The LPCI state list nearby listings have included

LPCI 2005-2006 Chicagoland Watch List includes

Preservation Chicago's "Chicago Seven" annual list of most threatened significant buildings or areas in the city.


Other fronts:

A community-wide consortium of represented organizations has formed to fund-raise to match $2 earmarked funding to restore the Reflecting Pool (Howard Van Doren Shaw) of Lorado Taft's Fountain of Time in Washington Park near the Midway. This work is urgent to prevent re-deterioration of the concrete sculpture itself. HPKCC is one of the organizations represented. There is already a substantial Preserving America's Treasures grant c. $250,000, a UC contribution of $10o,000, Park District funding of $845,000? (which may include previous work). Other grants are being sought, and the community group is meeting to raise c. $100,000 from the community. Leaders include Melissa Cook and Judith Bromley. Park District staff are assisting. Call Melissa Cook, 773-684-5239. Funded work to be finished in 2005.

To Statement of the Fountain of Time Basin Committee Committee.

Major facilities in parks have recently been landmarked, including South Shore Cultural Center. Next in line- 63rd St. Beach House?

To Shoreland page

Mike Stevens, Hyde Park Herald

Greenwood Row Houses, 5200 block of Greenwood, receives district designation-Hyde Park's first

With most owners' consent (10 of 20 and no non-consents) and leading support from Alderman Preckwinkle (4th), a segment of Greenwood Avenue, Greenwood Row Houses, 5200-5244 ("Professors' Row" although places near the University rightly bear that name), has been granted landmark district designation by City Council. It is Hyde Park's first landmark district. (Kenwood has two extensive districts.) It consists of 20 joined single-family homes by Samuel E. Gross (with Joseph Brompton) in 1903. The Commission request document cites the decorated cornices, stone portals with fluted columns, and stone balustrades. Esteemed UC faculty and physicians lived in the houses over the full century since construction. The district is one that is easy to create ("high comfort level" as staff calls it) because it has three things going for it: owner's favor and consent, aldermanic consent, and--almost uniquely here-- its intact character: 100 percent.

On May 6, the Department of Planning and Development presented its report on this District to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, stating that the designation "supports the City's overall planning goals for the Hyde Park community and is consistent with the City's governing policies and plans." This was step 4 in the 8-step landmarking process. Next, the Commission formally requested owner consent. "Owner consent is advisory-not required for designation. Where 'non-consent/no response' is received, a public hearing is required." It then passed through step 8, having received City Council designation December 8, 2004. More in Preservation Hot Topics.

What such districting does: 1) guidelines are set for exterior changes 2) two levels of review and bureaucratic oversight of proposed construction plans are provided before changes can be made.


Honored by the Commission on Landmarks with award for Preservation Excellence for restoring historic Kenwood homes in District: Jamie and Anita Orlikoff and Daniel and Stephanie Acunas.

Lore Healy Commissioner, said of the couples in late 2006, "These homeowners fell a responsibility to their neighborhoods and to the neighborhood's heritage." The Acunas have restored 10 homes and were especially honored for 4847 S. Kimbark. The Orlikoffs were honored for restoration at 4644 s. Kimbark (1889), especially the original siding and porch.

Problem home in Kenwood, 4845 S. Ellis, lovingly restored by Nigel and Deborah Telman and honored at 2008 Chicago Landmarks Awards for Preservation Excellence.

Herald, October 8, 2008. By Crystal Fencke

The Kenwood home of Nigel and Deborah Telman was among 22 properties honored at the ceremony for the 2008 Chicago Landmarks Awards for Preservation Excellence held recently. The Telman's 1888, three-story house with some Tudor-influenced details received the award for exterior rehabilitation. The story of how the Telman's home rehab project enhances the community speaks to Mayor Richard M. Daley's view of these awards being "about the people." And Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) sites the Telmans as ridding her ward of a vacant property. "So I'm really grateful for those folks," she said.

In 2006, the Telmans met with architect Cathy Osika of the Chicago firm Burns + Beyrl to upgrade their current home, at the time, about one block away. at the same time, the couple, who have a young family, looked at the property at 4845 S. Ellis Ave. which had been vacant for a few years. "It was 'The Addams Family' house," said Osika, referring to the frightening, broken down mansion in the 1960s television show. The past owner had been trying to upgrade it about four years after he left it. "It was a project no one person could do on his own," said Nigel.

However, the house had a good structure, and the Telmans decided to make the investment in the home and the community. "I have to say it took a lot of blind faith on their part," Osika said. She credits the couple with the vision for "seeing through the boarded up windows" and imagining its potential.

The Telmans did considerable work on the interior: They removed all the trim, upgraded barrel-vaulted ceilings, and cleaned and refurbished all of the home's 90 windows. It was their exterior rehabilitation that earned them the award, though. One of the most significant upgrades was the complete rebuilding of the collapsed porte-cochere, or covered driveway arch. That is a large structure abutting the house that traditionally served as a shelter for people arriving home in a carriage. The work was completed [in] about a year and a half, in October 2007. And the influence on the neighborhood is substantial, said Nigel.

Neighbors approach him and Deborah almost daily voicing their appreciation, he said. One of the most common comments is that this is the house that had the ruined archway. Nigel feels this a strange part of community life for him and his family, that someone stops one of them every day to discuss the restoration project.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance establishing the commission on Chicago Landmarks, and the 10th anniversary of the awards. Other local award winners included a home at 4534 S. Ellis Ave., The Overton Hygienic Building and the Motor Row District. The ceremony was held at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, which itself was honored. The institute re-opened in 2007 showcasing its contemporary 10-story building with a faceted-glass curtain wall.


Plans by the new owner (Tony Rezko's lawyer) to build 6 condo units next to Sen. Obama's home in historic landmark district of large, single family homes and near the Greenwood Row special district raises ire.

Sen. Obama was steered his new home site by the Rezko's, who are under investigation re filling government jobs and lobbying, and bought 10' from the Rezko's. Recently, Rezko's wife sold their lot to their business lawyer, Michael Screenan, who has submitted designs for a set of 6 condos. Ald. Preckwinkle has objected to the designs and possibly in principle to 6 units in a landmark district based on hundred year old single family mansions. The Kenwood Open House Committee, which oversees the district for the city, is also concerned. (Needs an update) Top

University of Chicago Law School honored for update restoration that brings out the "great building waiting to get out."

Landmarks Illinois honored the restoration at its October 17, 2008 dinner. Other awards have been garnered as well. More details in UC and Community page.

From the University of Chicago Chronicle, October 23, 2008. By Sarah Galer

The retention of he D'Angelo Law Library's historic design and the enhancement of student-friendly spaces have garnered the Law School's library renovation project the 2008 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Rehabilitation from Landmarks Illinois. The award was converted Friday, Oct. 17 for the work completed by the Chicago architectural firm of OWP/P. Douglas Baird, the Harry A. Bigelow Distinguished Service Professor and former Dean of the Law School, praised the architects and the school's leadership for having successfully revealed a hidden masterpiece: "It was a great building struggling to get out."

The Laird Bell Law Quadrangle, completed in 1959, was the modern-Gothic vision of Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, who was responsible for such designs as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, by the mid-1990s, time had started to erode the physical structure, while rapidly changing educational needs created new challenges. Other elements of Saarinen's original design were never fully realized.

Law School administrators have worked closely with OWP/P for more than a decade to thoroughly address these issues, while expanding and enhancing the award-winning library as well as the school's law clinic space, auditorium and classrooms. Under the leadership of Saul Levmore, Dean of the Law School, the recent D'Angelo Law Library renovations were focused on emphasizing the student experience in the Law School. The result has been an enviable modern facility, with library, classroom and study spaces embedded in a historic space.

The Law School recaptured much of the library tower by reducing the number of onsite books by 40 percent, thanks to the digitalization of many legal resources. Only the more frequently used books remain on the open shelves, though they number in the hundreds of thousands. Historically significant collections are in compact storage in the library basement while less-used books eventually will be housed in the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, slated to open in 2010.

According to Judith wright, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services, "The D'Angelo will be one of the very few academic libraries nationally that will be able to retain its historical print books as space needs force most academic law libraries to discard their print collections." The huge task of removing theses 270,000 books made it possible to open up -- and warm up -- the previously cramped tower. "The library is no longer austere adn dark with gray linoleum floors, concrete ceilings, fluorescent lights and black book stacks," said Wright. "The renovated student study space includes the refinished original tables, new study carrels, great new chairs, improved lighting, wooden end panels on the book stacks, and upgraded electricity and campus network access. Soft seating is scattered throughout the library, which is now more comfortable and inviting," she said.

The Wilson Reading Room and a media room, where students can relax or study in front of a television, provide more social space for students. One of the changes Levmore is most proud of is that student services -- the Dean of Students, the Registrar, Admissions an careers Services -- have been centralized on the third floor of the tower. "Student Services had been dispersed, sometimes in unattractive spaces, throughout the Law School," said Levmore. "There are real benefits to bringing these offices together, but more than that is the symbolic and architectural message of having these offices in central and attractive locations. It send the message that serving students is an important part of what we do, and form is function, in the sense that well-located facilities are more frequently used."

The Three student journals now shasr5e a spacious modern area in the basement of the library tower, where the offices of Career Services and faculty workshops has previously shared -- or competed -- for space. ... The abandoned spaces in the Library also have allowed for the creation of more attractive student spaces. ...

The successful renovation of the D'Angelo Law Library celebrates Saarinen's modern interpretation of the more traditional Gothic architecture that sits north of the Midway Plaisance, focusing on the same rhythmic patterns, vertical lines and the use of glass. An evening walk by the Law School provides a breathtaking modern play on the Gothic obsession with light, with the illuminated accordian windows of the library tower reflecting onto Saarinen's reflecting pool.

Baird notes that the building is symbolic of what it means to study at the Law School. "It has style and serious purpose," said Baird, who considers Chicago's complex to be the most architecturally significant of any law school campus in the United Sates. "It reinforces what we are about."



Save the Booker (47th and Cottage Grove) say Oakwood preservationists

"A strong building that makes the corner." The Booker Building was designed in 1914 by Kenwood resident and designer of many houses and Harper Theater Horatio Wilson. It is one of the last Cottage Grove commercial buildings. The connections and interests of the major owners of the property for the development, Everett and Timothy Rand and Greg Newsome, have been researched. Contact Jack Spicer if interested.

Jarrell Robinson and Pam Johnson of Oakland Preservation wrote this open letter to Ald. Preckwinkle in the May 9 2007 Herald.

We are writing to you in an appeal to save the Booker Building, the historic anchor of the corner of 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. This corner has long been the focus of redevelopment efforts in our neighborhood, both for its problems, but more importantly for its potential. Even now it is a busy corner and a natural place to begin to restore shopping and other services to Cottage Grove and 47th.

We strongly support these efforts, as does everyone in our neighborhood. We are writing because these efforts will be more successful if the Booker Building is saved, restored and incorporated into the larger development planned for this bloc, rather than torn down.

The current plan has recognized the value of saving the existing 3-flats on Evans Avenue and has attempted to take its cue from them as to the overall style and scale. The same considerations are even more compelling in the case of the Booker. The entire plan for the Cottage Grove corridor has as its aim to try to recreate for a new century the busy, friendly feeling and scale of the old neighborhood shopping areas of the city.

Our older residents remember when 43rd and 47th streets were the same sort of lively shopping streets that one finds now only on the North Side. This is what everyone wants to see here again. It only makes sense that we would want to preserve and use the best of what remains of the old shopping districts as an anchor for new development.

The most successful neighborhoods in Chicago--like Lincoln Park and Andersonville--work because they have saved, rehabbed and used their historic, commercial buildings. Pilsen is a good example of a poorer neighborhood that works and feels the same way as its wealthier counterparts and for the same reason. A successful neighborhood is not merely a matter of money.

The Booker Building, built in 1914, is one of the last of Cottage Grove's old commercial buildings. And it is now, and always was, one of its finest. It was de sighed by Horatio Wilson, who lived here in Kenwood, and whose firm designed several of its mansion, as well as houses along Drexel Boulevard and King Drive. It is a handsome example of the American Arts and crafts/Prairie School commercial style, is in excellent repair, and was designed for exactly the uses the neighborhood has in mind for this corner. It could easily be adapted for modern stores and apartments as part of the larger development.

Vintage corner buildings are especially important to our urban streetscape, and the Booker Building will have a strong and dignified presence at the intersection. The bank building at the northeast corner, where your office has relocated, offers the same stabilizing presence.

Horatio Wilson also designed the Harper Theater Building at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue, now owned by the University of Chicago and scheduled for redevelopment. The university felt that the continued presence of a solid vintage building at that corner location could strengthen the entire street and might well contribute to the quality of the development itself. To this end they issued a request for proposals to developers that suggested preservation. From the many proposals offered they selected one that preserves most of the original building and promise to be an exciting contribution to commercial street life on both 53rd Street and Harper Avenue.

Everyone living in our neighborhood, whether in a new home or old, lives here at least in part because they like the historic texture and feeling of t he neighborhood. We feel sure that if given a choice our neighborhood would would overwhelmingly support saving the Booker. This choice has not been considered by anyone so far in this process simply because of an understandable oversight.

The building has house a liquor store for as long as anyone can remember, and has been so closely connected to the crowd hanging out in front of it, that the building itself was mistaken for the problem. And because of the liquor store crowd, no one who walked or drove by every lingered long enough to notice the beautiful facade above them, the decorative terra cotta ornament, the Prairie style roof.

Everyone who lives here knows that we are part of this neighborhood's rebirth and that we are building for the future. We should be able to look past the transitory problems and see the fine and lasting things that are ours here, that have stood solid in good times and hard times, and should remain.

We request that you meet with us and other members of the community who believe that historic preservation is absolutely essential to the success of our neighborhood. The current plan is still in its beginning stages. Make the Booker Building the historic jewel of this new development!

For more information, please visit our Web site: oak

Jack Spicer wrote the Lakefront Outlook:

I agree totally with Alderman Preckwinkle. The intersection of 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue needs development. And I could not agree more with Oakland Preservation--to destroy the Booker Building would be cruel, wasteful and silly.

A good development at this location would preserve and include the Booker Building. A good developer would be excited to take advantage of this important vintage building. Developers all over Chicago preserve older buildings as standard procedure. They do it in Woodlawn. Even the University of Chicago does it. Why is the 4th ward lagging so far behind the rest of the city at 47th and Cottage Grove?

Note- it looks like Ald. Preckwinkle will not act to save the Booker Building. But it's on the 208 Preservation Chicago list.

Hyde Park Herald February 13, 2008. by Georgia Geis

Preservation Chicago announced its "Chicago Seven Most Threatened Buildings" list Jan. 28 to call attention to the historically significant buildings the organization believes are most vulnerable to the wrecking ball. Included on that list is the 93-yer-old Booker Building, which anchors the southwest corner of 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

"It is important to get these issues out to a citywide audience," said Jonathan Fine, president of Preservation Chicago. "Our main goal is to raise awareness and start a conversation."

The Booker Building, built in 1914 by architect Horatio Wilson, is the commercial anchor building on the southwest corner of Cottage Grove Avenue and 47th Street. The American Arts and Crafts-style building at one time was part of a thriving commercial district with retail on the bottom floor and residential and office spaces above. A 150-unit residential and mixed-use development is planned by Ohio-based Mahogany Ventures for the block where the Booker Building sits.

In a letter written to Preckwinkle that was printed in the Herald May 2007, preservationist and University of Chicago PhD student Pamela Johnson wrote, "Vintage corner buildings are especially important to our urban streetscape, and the Booker Building will have a strong and dignified presence at the intersection. The bank building at the northeast corner, where your office has relocated, offers the same stabilizing presence."

"I hope [building being on the list] makes eh alderman reconsider he plans to demolish the Booker Building. It is a beautiful and valuable building," said Johnson, who founded the advocacy group Oakland Preservation.

Preservation Chicago board member and Hyde Park resident Jack Spicer agrees.
The happiest outcome for all concerned would be for Alderman Preckwinkle to integrate the historic Booker Building into the wonderful development she has planned on the ... corner..." said Spicer.

Preckwinkle said the Preservation Chicago announcement would not have an effect on the progress of Mahogany's The Shops and Lofts at 47, which is slated to break ground in 2009. "I have worked very hard as alderman to preserve buildings that are historically significant," said Preckwinkle. "[Preservation Chicago] and I disagree on the significance of [the Booker] building."

Fine said he thinks Preckwinkle is on the wrong side of this issue. "Preservation should always be the starting point," said Fine.


The preservation game in Chicago (from the Kamin series)

Whole series: read "A Squandered Heritage" in (Downloads require registration and a fee in

Nearly one year after the city deployed its highly touted 'demolition delay' amendment to preserve Chicago's architectural legacy, the demolition rolls on

Chicago Tribune, December 15, 2003. By Blair Kamin and Patrick T. Reardon, with Darnell Little.

Bruce Bailey gazed out the window of his Belmont Avenue antique shop. He didn't like what he saw. For years, he'd admired the Queen Anne commercial building across the street, with its elaborate brickwork and pressed-metal cornice stamped with the year "1890." But now the graceful old building was empty, waiting to be turned to rubble. It is expected to be replaced by one of the red-brick condominium behemoths that have marched relentlessly westward from the lake along Belmont.

"We're in the canyon of condos here," said the 34-year-old Bailey. "It's the ugly face of progress." The vulnerable queen Anne at 2120 W. Belmont was one of the thousands of architecturally and historically significant buildings that were supposed to have a better chance at survival under a highly touted "demolition delay" amendment to the city's building code.

But nearly a year later, the ordinance has saved only one of those buildings. While a grand, neo-Renaissance church in Woodlawn was recommended as a landmark, city officials rejected 16 others, including an 1880s West Town commercial building with rosettes carved into its lintels and an 1890s Lake view farmhouse with a turret shaped like a silo.

Those two, now gone, were among 58 new teardowns of significant buildings documented by the Tribune. That brings the total of destroyed potential landmarks discovered by the newspaper's year-and-a-half-long investigation to 762--enough to fill several suburban subdivisions.

Despite the ordinance, the demolition machine that has devastated Chicago's architectural heritage continues to run at full-throttle, homogenizing once-distinct neighborhoods. And it may soon claim another, far more prominent victim--Cook County Hospital, the sumptuous but now vacant classical monument that symbolized compassionate care for the poor. The Cook County Board could vote to authorize its demolition Tuesday.

The reason for the continued destruction, national and local experts agree, is that the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley and preservationists have failed to do two things:

The result is a wildly arbitrary process in which one building of high quality will be lost while another of lesser significance will be preserved. The system's ad hoc nature is exacerbated by the polarized approaches of the Daley administration and preservationists. The former uses the narrowest of standards to evaluate landmarks while the other employ the broadest.

Due to the lack of common ground, many buildings in the middle, like the one on Belmont--neither easily landmarked nor easily dismissed--are doomed.

"Big cities have made a big mistake. They've said only landmarks are sacrosanct," says Charles Chase, executive director of San Francisco Architectural Heritage, a preservation advocacy group. "There is a varying degree, a shades-of-gray base of building that are worthy of preservation. They may not be held up as house museums or civic monuments, but they are buildings that contribute to and inform neighborhoods and create a quality of environment that is worthy of protection."

The Historic Resources Survey, an unprecedented cataloging of Chicago's architectural and historical treasures, was conducted by city experts between 1983 and 1995 at a cost of more than $1.2 million. It ranked more than 17,000 significant buildings on the basis of quality--with the highest category, red, indicating buildings of national importance, and the second-highest, orange, denoting buildings of community significance. This color-coded spectrum went down several levels to the lowest ranking, blue, which wa assigned to a handful of post-1940 buildings.

But inclusion in the survey provided no protection against demolition or defacement. Indeed, the multitude of buildings in some categories--there were nearly 10,000 rated orange--was overwhelming, lessening their chances of survival.

"People get dulled to the numbers," Chase said. "They say: 'We can't process 17,000 buildings.'" Vincent Michael, the director of the historic preservation program at the School of the Art Institute, added: "To me, the survey is this big rough cut. The survey should include a continuing process that not only adds buildings that may have attained significance since 1940, but evaluates the existing survey buildings and ranks them."

The crucial issue of how to separate the wheat from the chaff is certain to come to the fore now that Cook County Board President John Stroger, a prominent Daley ally, has signaled he will proceed with his plan to tear down the 89-year-old Cook County Hospital at 1835 W. Harrison St. Last Wednesday, Cook County planning officials rejected two proposals from private developers to rehabilitate the hospital and said the County Board should decide at their meeting Tuesday whether to raze it. Under the demolition delay ordinance, city officials are required to put a hold of up to 90 days on the issuance of demolition permit for a building rated red or orange in the survey. Because the hospital is rated orange, Daley will have to take a stand on its future. So far, the mayor has studiously avoided any public comment.

A different story

In the face of criticism from preservationists, city officials paint a very different picture, saying that the city's Commission on Chicago Landmarks has conferred landmark status on 24 structures and two districts this year--more than in any of the year of the commission's 35-year history. Those designations ranged from the Elks National Memorial Building at 2750 N. Lakeview Ave. to a group of 12 firehouse buildings scattered throughout the city.

In addition, city officials say, they used the demolition delay ordinance to stop the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago from razing the elegantly monumental St. Gelasius Church at 6401 S. Woodlawn Ave. The neo-Renaissance church, with its 120-foot bell tower, was to be torn down to become a vacant lot. Instead, the building has been recommended for city landmark status, a move the Archdiocese is expected to challenge in court. "Thanks to our hold on the demolition of historically significant buildings, the city was able to take the time to explore options other than the wrecking ball," trumpeted Alicia Mazur Berg, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development.

But for all the headlines generated by this one case, her department has approved the demolition of 16 other orange-rated buildings, 10 of which have already come down. (One of the six remaining buildings, a graystone at 3816 N. Fremont St., is likely to have its front saved as part of a deal that will allow a developer to build an addition to it, officials said.)

Preservationists didn't fight for all of the buildings, but they rue the loss of others, such as a Queen Anne two-flat in Lincoln Park that was torn down to make way for a supersize home that will cover two city lots. What really irks them, though, is the loss of such buildings for uninspired, overmuscled designs. "This is architectural pollution," said Jonathan Fine, president of Preservation Chicago, a city advocacy group. "Just as we used to pollute our water and our air, we are now polluting our cities with bad architecture."

Ultimately, though, environmentalists learned they had to pick their battles. In Chicago, preservationists don't want to take part in the setting of priorities, such as rating the oranges on a scale of A, B, C. By highlighting some buildings, they fear, they would consign others to the graveyard. "If you give As, Bs and Cs within the orange-rated buildings, you can pretty much write off all the Bs and Cs," said David Bahlman, president of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, a statewide advocacy group. "The implication would be that it's OK to demolish those two-thirds. You'd be playing into the hands of the developers. You basically have to choose between your children if you do that."

City standards

On the other side of the divide is Brian Goeken, the head of the Landmarks Division of the Department of Planning and Development. In contrast to the broad net cast by Bahlman and his allies, Goeken says the division has rejected 16 out of 17 orange-rated buildings that have come before him because of the city's stiff standards. "The main thing is they don't meet the landmark criteria." he said.

In addition to buildings rejected by the landmarks division, the 58 new demolitions documented by the Tribune included lesser-rated buildings from the survey and orange-rated structures that received demolition permits before the ordinance went into effect in January. Nearly all were torn down this year.

The vast majority of the 762 demolitions documented by the newspaper have occurred since Daley became mayor in 1989. Without a consensus of what should be saved, decisions are made on an ad hoc basis, as seen in the contrast between two potential landmarks only two miles apart.

After neighbors learned in September that a developer intended to tear down the Queen Anne three-flat at 823 W. Newport Ave., with its round window bays, they mobilized with the help of Preservation Chicago. They signed petitions urging that their entire block--a rare intact stretch of handsome graystones and brick three-flats near Wrigley Field--be made a landmark district. They put posters in windows. They met with Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who arranged a land swap: In exchange for a second property, the developer who wanted to demolish the Queen Anne would trade the building to another developer who would rehab it.

The building was saved even though it wasn't rated orange. It was labeled green, a lesser category on the Historic Resources Survey. That meant it wasn't covered by the demolition delay ordinance. "It's a happy ending to a kind of Perils of Pauline scenario," said David Sikon, a longtime resident. "We kind of see ourselves as an example to other blocks that shows what an effective alderman can do coupled with a persistent community."

By contrast, in Lincoln Park, an effort by Preservation Chicago to save a gable-fronted two-flat with Gothic and Queen Anne details at 2028 N. Mohawk St. fizzled for lack of interest. Neighbors were split about whether to save the orange-rated building. Some hoped to preserve it by designating the block as a landmark district. Others feared the move would halt the stratospheric escalation of property values that has occurred as developers have torn down buildings to make way for larger and more profitable homes.

Deirdre Sokol, who lives at 2031 N. Mohawk, said one friend of hers was badgered mercilessly by a developer: "He pounded her. 'I'll give you $1.1 million, $1.2 million, $1.3 million.' It's this whole indecent proposal."

On the 2000 block of Mohawk, at least a third of the buildings have been replaced. That was the reason Goeken gave last summer, at a meeting hosted by Ald. Vi Daley (43rd), for rejecting the proposed district.

Shortsighted rejection

Michael Moran, vice president of Preservation Chicago, contended that Goeken's quick rejection of the district was shortsighted. "If you go to a dentist missing some of your teeth, he doesn't say, 'Why bother? Let's pull them all.'"

To be sure, some orange-rated buildings are too far gone to save, such as the once-grand, 117-year old Victorian home at 5168 S. Michigan Ave. Though it retains its fanciful turret, it looks like something out of a gothic novel, with broken windows and rickety front steps. A request to demolish the structure is pending.

If the old Victorian is at one end of the spectrum, St. Gelasius is at the other--a building that stands out by virtue of its size, good exterior condition and indisputable architectural quality. It's a monument with a capital "M."

Somewhere in the middle are thousands of everyday structures--three-flats, taverns, cottages, triangle-shaped commercial buildings. They give their neighborhoods character. But they're unlikely to become individual landmarks under the city's strict criteria. To give such buildings a fighting chance, local and national preservationists say, city officials should put some legal and financial muscle toward saving more potential landmarks.

For example, Preservation Chicago suggests that the city create a penalty for razing survey buildings in the form of higher fees for demolition permits, modeled on the Daley administration's new, higher-cost city stickers for SUV's. The organization also suggests that survey buildings be identified in real estate multiple listings, so potential buyers would know the significance of the structure and the possibility that they might face community opposition to a tear-down.

Others say the survey itself needs to be refined, particularly because some of its research is now 20 years old. "No survey is ever done," Michael said, citing modern buildings that may have been overlooked in the 1980s. "Our perspective on things changes constantly."

Buildings in the survey, experts say, could be prioritized on the basis of various themes, such as well-known architects, Chicago history and building types like the city's new firehouse district.

The key, they say, is to establish some priorities and make the system as predictable as possible for preservationists and developers. "If you cast the net too wide and too far, you begin to frustrate and stymie both sides of the issue," Chase said.

City officials say more potential landmarks will be saved in the future because a massive rezoning of Chicago, due to begin early next year, will reduce the incentive for developers to tear down small old buildings and replace them with large new ones. They also cite a housing program, begun in January, that aims to salvage apartment buildings and homes that are sliding toward demolition.

Yet, experts say, the city's landmarks commission is hampered by it small staff--about a dozen, or one-fourth the size of New York City's. Paul Byard, director of the historic preservation program at Columbia University in New York, said that the lack of staffing is "a political expression of 'We'll protect 'em, but not very much.'"


Article by G. Frederick Bonsall

Renovation and Adaptive Reuse...A Smart Alternative
By G. Frederick Bonsall, AIA

Suburban Sprawl remains a great concern even in the twenty-first century, leaving an ever-increasing trail of empty and discarded buildings, many in the heart of some of the oldest business centers. America’s love of the automobile has created growing traffic and parking problems. Cities have tried to cope with this trend by constructing parking garages convenient to the city centers, but this has come at the expense of much demolition, dramatically changing the scale of community streetscapes.

Amazingly, Europe has dealt with this problem in a far different way by caring for and repairing their centuries’ old buildings, buying and driving smaller automobiles, many times parking them on side walks. By contrast, every square inch seems to be of use. The people are much more eager to adapt their lifestyle to existing conditions. Even after years of war, buildings are often carefully and painstakingly rebuilt to original standards. They are considered to be valued treasures; to be cared for and passed on to future generations.

In America, however, if a building doesn’t suit the thinking of its user, he will build a new one that hopefully will. Usually, though, in a few years, it doesn’t. They tend to be of the economical construction and further the trend of an average thirty-year life cycle.

As an alternative to our ever-increasing throw-away society, renovation and adaptive reuse are significant ways in which to breathe new life into our communities. They will, however, almost always are accompanied with challenges of higher costs and code compliance, but if anticipated early on, can be successfully dealt with through some careful planning and creativity. But in any case, expect the unexpected since it is next to impossible to guess beyond what you can physically see without at least some exploratory evaluation. An old boiler system and its piping will most certainly contain asbestos. This, of course, must be abated and will constitute an additional expense. Old wiring and plumbing is a must to be removed as well. Another component is the roof, which should most likely be replaced. Storm windows or new doubled-glazed windows will need to be added to conform to improved energy standards.

Probably the most challenging aspect of the renovations is dealing with modern day building codes, intended primarily for new construction, and leaving little tolerance for existing characteristics like open stairwells and steeper stairs. Intended to provide a safe means of egress in times of fire or panic, they usually require more space than what normally exists. Additional problems can occur when trying to comply with ADA requirements, even though some flexibility for existing structures is provided. Not only do they require additional area (leaving less for the intended use), there is a higher cost for remediation.

The higher costs and longer lead times for compatible materials must be taken into account during the initial planning stages. In some cases, variances may be needed, requiring additional planning time. Early discussions with local authorities are almost a given requirement for the eventual success of the project. Gaining this governmental support can be invaluable when applying for financial help. The investigation as to historical significance of a building may allow certain features to remain as long as alternative solutions can be provided for accessibility and safe evacuation.

Our present day economy is playing havoc with office space. Mergers, buy-outs and restructuring affect many more companies than ever before, precipitating relocation or downsizing. Advancements in computer technology demand constant upgrades in building infrastructures. Until wireless connections are perfected, the need for more versatile wiring will continue to grow. Mechanical system ductwork has always been an issue, and continues to grow in size, as occupants demand more controlled air quality. This, along with sprinkler systems, has led to greater floor-to-floor heights in new buildings, while presenting challenges in older buildings.

Life in the office is changing as well. Employees are more mobile, sometimes working from outside the company’s walls, and then returning to a personal space for a short time before regrouping again into an interactive grouping. Furniture companies have responded by offering mobile components such as work surfaces and files that can easily be drawn into a group setting or pulled across the room for a different task. Again, power, telephone and lighting must be designed to accommodate these moves. This “fluid” type of space tends to provide an atmosphere in which the occupants are happier, healthier and more productive.

Sometimes, by just standing back and examining a building’s unique features or details, a design direction can be established which enhances its new use and provides a truly unique environment for its occupants. This could include anything from the grand scale of an old downtown department store, to the openness of an abandoned warehouse; the detail of a failing theater or the stateliness of a bank no longer functioning in its pre-described manner of financial transactions.

Although much of the above sounds quite negative, nothing could be further from the truth. Proper Programming is the key, factoring in these conditions early, as opposed to dealing with them as “problems” later in the course of the project. They must become priorities and be given the same importance as the desired attributes and final use of the facility. Furthermore, the success of adaptive reuse and renovation will hold a higher place in everyone’s hearts, since an old “friend” has been saved.

G. Frederick Bonsall is registered to practice architecture in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. His professional commissions have included many commercial design projects for office buildings, office interiors, medical offices and financial institutions, as well as hospitality and recreational facilities. He served as president of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the AIA in 1982, and is currently Chairman of the Historic Architectural Review Board for the City of Bethlehem. He attended Pennsylvania State University and received his BFA degree from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1966.


Facadectomy, yes or no?

Irene Sherr garnered this from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Posted on Sun, Feb. 01, 2004

Changing Skyline

Is it just a facade?
Replacing everything but the front of an old building may seem to serve history, but often it creates a shallow hybrid.
By Inga Saffron
Inquirer Architecture Critic

What does more to sap the soul and diminish the character of old cities: demolishing the back portion of a historic building or tearing down the whole thing?
It's a question that most supporters of historic preservation, me included, would rather not ask. It's almost always better to leave historic structures the way they were first built, rather than to allow developers to cut and paste and perform what has become known as a "facadectomy" - the architectural equivalent of a lobotomy. We wouldn't insert different chapters into the middle of a Tolstoy novel or add more dabs of color to a Monet painting.

But architecture is a functional art that needs to continue functioning long after the times and technology have changed, so we tinker. When given the poor choice between a facadectomy and total demolition, many American preservationists are reluctantly starting to conclude that demolition may be the lesser evil.

The practice of using intricate old facades to mask new buildings has become a popular parlor trick for developers seeking to appease preservation-minded opponents and give their projects an instant patina. But that Solomon's compromise risks spawning little Las Vegases of architectural fakes. Facadectomies have become Preservation Lite for cities; they may look great, but without their three-dimensional heft, they are definitely less filling.

Ironically, the facadectomy, which usually involves inserting a large modern structure behind a toy like front, was first conceived by preservationists as a way to balance their goals with new development. Wasn't it better, the argument went, to retain the most public part of a historic building than to erase all evidence of the past?

It depends. Sometimes a facadectomy is no different from gutting an interior and replacing it with a modern floor plan. It's impossible for an ordinary passerby to perceive the change. That's the case with the Federal-era rowhouses on the south side of the 700 block of Spruce street, where modern medical offices were constructed. But other facadectomies resemble a Frankenstein monster, with weird grafts of styles, materials and proportions.

The growing popularity of facadectomies has serious implications for Philadelphia, which is both chock-a-block with historic buildings and bustling with high-rise development. At one meeting last week, a Philadelphia Historical Commission subcommittee debated two facadectomies, approving one and nixing the other. At least two more are under construction and a third is pending.

The 47-story St. James apartment tower, which is now rising over Washington Square, will be a big test of the practice. Eager for park views, the developer targeted a crowded block of vacant, historic buildings on the west side of the square. The Historical Commission demanded that the tower be woven into the tight fabric of buildings on the 700 block of Walnut Street, which include a lush Italianate bank and an important row of brick houses.

The developer, P&A Associates, actually managed to retain most of the former PSFS bank, which includes magnificent Victorian interiors by Frank Furness. But the houses, known as York Row, had to be brutally amputated. Only 15 feet of their fronts survived.

That red brick veneer was grafted onto the concrete parking garage, which serves as the base of the glass-and-concrete tower. The effect is like plastering a postage stamp on the body of a giant. When viewed sideways from Eighth Street, York Row now looks as if it has the false fronts of the quintessential gold-rush town.

Some preservationists are already ruing the compromise. Richard Tyler, the top commission staffer, wonders whether it would have been better to have sacrificed York Row and created a modern base that worked with Walnut Street's commercial mix. "Sometimes it's better to have a new building," Tyler conceded. "Whatever the merits of a facadectomy, it's not preservation."

But now that the facadectomy genie is out of the bottle, it is becoming an option of first resort when development and preservation goals conflict. That was the approach taken by developer Harold Wheeler last week when he submitted plans for a condo tower overlooking Rittenhouse Square.

Wheeler's architects, Robert A.M. Stern of New York, offered two versions of the tower's 18th Street facade. In the first, the building rose from a three-story base camouflaged by the facades of four nice, but not especially historic, townhouses.

But conscious of the growing aversion to facadectomies, the project architect, Graham Wyatt, then pulled out a plan showing a new base. Also three stories, that base was carefully designed to harmonize with both the red brick tower's neo-Park Avenue appearance and the other low buildings on 18th Street. Not once in the discussion, however, did anyone suggest that the developer slim down the tower and preserve the four buildings in their entirety. Too bad. Their individuality - including their quirky interiors - will be hard to replicate.

The committee opted for the new base.

Yet later that same day, they agreed to let Temple University perform a facadectomy on a group of mid-19th-century townhouses, inserting a bulky new student services center. That operation will add a premium of nearly 20 percent to the $18 million project.

The facadectomy was Temple's idea. Like many developers, the university has decided that such historic relics help humanize its new buildings. But after viewing drawings for this proposed Frankenstein, my sense is that Temple would do better to invest the $3.2 million premium in a strong, modern building.

The decision by the Historical Commission committee is a bleak commentary on a have-it-all culture. The facadectomy tries to combine history and architecture. But like those hollow-eyed fronts, there's nothing under the surface.

Contact architecture critic Inga Saffron at 215-854-2213 or