History and Preservation home. History and Preservation in Depth. At the Historical Society. Preservation Beat. Landmarks Criteria. Metra walls and viaducts with links.
Watch lists are in Preservation Beat (endangered lists incl.). A Landmark District for Hyde Park?

Preservation bulletins, hot/quick topics

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


The Commission on Chicago Landmarks meets 1st Thursdays, 12:45 pm, 33 N. LaSalle, room 1600. Open to the public.
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 www.cityofchicago.org
To contact concerning Commission dates, location of meetings, and agenda: Terry Tatum, 312 744-9147.

Elm Park- see in own page.

Merged with UC effort to expand, revise its Planned Development 43- See Woodlawn Avenue page incl. effort to create a district, endorsed by HPKCC in Nov. 2011.

Chicago Theological Seminary page. Documentation project- ctsthreatened.org.
5727 S. University. CTS was placed on Preservation Illinois's 7 Most Endangered List March 2011.
A Woodlawn District? and Meadville (see also in Southside Preservation Action Fund)
Visit http://woodlawnaveinjeopardy.org. (Tours at 1 July 10, 17, 24, new group forming- memet July 14 2011

Article in June 2011 Reporter on saving Harper Theater shows how preservation and development can work together.

Reagan's home and Hospitals expansion.

Among recent happenings: the commission approved landmarking of the Blackstone Branch Public Library, 4904 S. Lake Park. City Council ratified December 8, 2010. The Shoreland is also nearly completed in landmarking.

Meadville has taken up a floor in and collaboration with Spertus Institute on South Michigan Avenue downtown.

July 2011: Historic Boulevard District National Register status is being petitioned by Chicago Park District to the state and National Trust/National Park Service. This includes the streets surrounding parks that are in the boulvard sytem. (It would affect owners' ability to change street-visible facades and could make various tax freezes and restoration help available.) Read about it in http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/supp_info/chicago_park_boulevardssystemhistoricdistrict.html. Also search for it in the Herald online, http://www.hpherald.com/hpindex.html.
Note that Jackson Park, the Midway, and Washington Park are already on the National Register; this is intended to add another layer under the key Chicago Boulevard System and to spur investment.

In July 2011, appointments by Mayor Emanuel to about half the board of the Commission of persons alleged to have minimal or none of the qualifications by Ordinance of board members set off a howl of dismay.

Meadville Theological School

... has sold its main building (and maybe the remaining houses) to the U of C, future use not disclosed. Fleck house at 57th and Woodlawn was sold for the new Chabad Jewish Center. Meadville is in discussions with Andover Theological School about a merger; some Meadville classes are being moved to Catholic Theological Union and Lutheran School of Theology. The main building is supposed to be preserved.
The board of Meadville was expected to vote in April 2011 on relocating to one of three Chicago institutions.
Preservation photographer David Schalliol was hired to document the architecture and social life of the main hall (57th/Woodlawn). The other buildings, like the main, are sold to U of C and (one) to Chabad House. Meadville hopes to keep its Universalist-Unitarian identity.

With the changes at Chicago Theological Seminary, this presages big changes for Woodlawn Avenue. SPAF has been documenting Woodlawn and University - see next items.

Visit Southside Preservation Action Fund (SPAF) to see what this committee has done, including a structural study of the Harper Theater. The current undertaking is an evaluation and photodocumentation of the east and west sides of Woodlawn Ave. and the east side of University Ave. 55th to 58th and of Meadville School to create a record, a document collection, and evaluation of effects of landmarking. The majority of property in the zone now belongs to University of Chicago.

A historic District for Woodlawn and University Avenues 55th-59th proposed to Landmarks Commission June 2011

(Group forming- meeting July 14, Thursday, 7 pm, 5528 S. Woodlawn.

Herald, June 8, 2011. By Sam Cholke. (The meeting of the Commission ascribed to May 31 occurred June 2)

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks put our a cal for ideas last week and got a couple suggestions for landmarks in Hyde Park. At a May 31 public meeting, the commission heard heard suggestions for a landmark district on the 5500 through 5700 blocks of Woodlawn an University avenues and landmarking U.S. President Ronald Reagan's childhood home at 832 E. 57th St.

Jack Spicer asked the commission to consider the Woodlawn Ave. district, a proposal endorsed by the Hyde Park Historical Society, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Preservation Chicago, and Landmarks Illinois. "There is some danger here," Spicer said about the University of Chicago's recent purchase of several buildings in the proposed district. "It can't help expanding; this is an effort to mediate that expansion."

The majority of the 101 buildings in the proposed district are rated orange by the commission, meaning a brief review showed the structures have some historical value. Two buildings are currently landmarked, Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House at 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave. and the Keck-Gottschalk-Keck Apartments at 5551 S. University ave.

Redd Griffin of the Ronald Reagan in Chicago Committee proposed a six-flat building that the former president lived in for a year as a young man. "I think this is an anchor of some of the Chicago experience of Reagan," Griffin said. "He wrote about being a four-year-old at this very property." The University of Chicago owns the property and Griffin said he has not broached the idea with the university yet.

Ellen Sahli, the director of civic engagement for the university, sat in on the meeting and said the proposals were interesting but declined to comment on whether the university was open to either suggestion.

the commission or aldermen initiate most landmarkings, but public suggestions are often taken up, according to Terry Tatum, a staff member at the commission. The parishioners of Ebenezer Missionary baptist Church at 4501 S. Vincennes suggested landmark status, which progressed towards final approval by the City Council May 31.

Landmark districts are taken up of more rarely, partially because they aren't often suggested, Tatum said.

October 27, 2010, one of the major University-Woodlawn strip historic (but unprotected) structures, 5727 S. University ("William Hale House," Hugh Garden, 1897), was severely damaged by an upper story fire related to its remodeling and expansion by the University into an endowed economics-math study center. The flames were fanned by high winds. The course of action is unclear. Preservationists believe the structure is lynchpin to what they see as a historic landmarked district. Ironically, it originally stood where CTS is now and among changes during its move in the 1920s was that it was rotated so the front is now the north side.

The Shoreland has been approved, waiting only on City Council final vote?

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

Watch lists- see Preservation Beat. Emerging push for HP District- watch Landmark District. Orange-rated Drexel home, Shiloh Church. See Doctors Hospital page.

State approved Narraganset Registry proposal 2007, City Council designated Greenwood Row Houses, 63rd St. Bathing Pavilion 2007. The Greenwood district is Hyde Park's first.
Read about these "how it's done" examples.

Page contents


Reagan's home and Hospitals expansion

Note that Landmark's Illinois has facade protection easement on three properties on the 57th St. block between Maryland and Drexel. The easement was obtained by one-time owner McGary, then sold to Antheus, which in turn told them to the University. Some say the buildings have historic memories as faculty and student residences and a few very good apartments, others say they are architecturally poor and highly expendable.

Chicago Sun-times February 6, 2011.

Locked up, abandoned and forgotten, the vacant six-flat standing at the northeast corner of 57th and Maryland has no plaques or statues and few clues to its history.
Now, the little-known childhood home of Ronald Reagan in Hyde Park could soon be torn down by the University of Chicago, which has quietly plotted its demolition, the Sun-Times has learned.
The plan has made unlikely allies of conservatives who consider Reagan an icon and liberal Hyde Parkers who say the university’s secrecy is typical of how it has treated its neighbors for decades.
It puts the school that provided the intellectual force behind “Reaganomics” in the awkward spot of attempting to destroy what was until the election of Barack Obama the only home in Chicago where a president has lived.
In fact, the university’s controversial new Milton Friedman Institute — named in tribute to the architect of Reagan’s free market policies — is just a few blocks away from the former Reagan home.
Though Reagan — born 100 years ago Sunday — spent just a year at the home as a 3-to-4 year-old from 1914 to 1915 and most of his youth in western Illinois, he wrote fondly of the gas-lit first-floor apartment at 832 E. 57th St.
In a 1988 letter, he described watching horse-drawn firefighters “come down the street at full gallop . . . the sight made me decide I wanted to be a fireman.” He described surviving a near-fatal bout of pneumonia, playing with a neighbor’s set of lead soldiers, how his older brother was run over by a beer wagon and how they both panicked while his parents went out for groceries, left the house and got lost across the Midway.
University officials, who bought Reagan’s home in 2004 and ordered tenants out a year ago, refuse to publicly discuss their plans for the building or the surrounding area. Spokesman Jeremy Manier said the university has “no announcements to make.”
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) — whose ward includes the Reagan home — also says she is unaware of any demolition plans and that the school has improved its communication with residents.
But sources inside and outside the university versed in its real estate policy say it is in private talks to demolish the home, and that the university has long considered buying up and razing the entire block and the block to the east as essential to hospital expansion. The $700 million, 10-story Hospital Pavilion, due to open in 2013, already looms over Reagan’s home across 57th Street.
Records show the university spent millions buying at least 60 percent of the two blocks over the last 20 years, with most purchased since 2000 now standing vacant. It already owns blocks to the immediate north, south and east, while Washington Park blocks westward expansion. A university source said at least some officials have known of the Reagan connection for years.
Frank Grabowski, who sold the Reagan building to the university but kept the mantel for his own Bloomingdale home, said the official he dealt with knew Reagan had lived there, but “wasn’t concerned and wanted to pull it down.”
Offering a possible motive for the university’s silence, he quipped, “I didn’t want too many people to know the history: It would have made headaches for me as owner.”
Those headaches include dealing with Hyde Park conservationists, who say the home has architectural merit.
Hyde Park Historical Society board member Jack Spicer, also the president of all-volunteer Preservation Chicago, said the Reagan six-flat — just a mile south of President Obama’s Kenwood home — is the finest remaining example of what was once a solid working and middle-class black neighborhood. Destroying it would create “a medical canyon” that separates the hospital from the city and risks deepening long-standing wounds in university-resident relations, he said.
“Whatever you think of Reagan — once the building’s gone, it’s gone forever,” he added.
Landmarks Illinois president Jim Peters also said that he would like to see the block preserved. Reagan’s home is protected by a zoning giving critics 90 days to object if and when the university announces a plan to destroy it, he said.
Further headaches could come from conservatives keen to name everything from aircraft carriers to schools in Reagan’s honor.
State Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Sterling), who chairs the Illinois Reagan Centenary Commission and hosted GOP grandees including former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich at a Reagan celebration downstate this past week, said destroying the home would be “a big mistake — if they renovated and advertised it, the university might make more money than they expect.”
Former Gov. Jim Thompson said the existence of better-known Reagan homes downstate and in California made it harder to save the Hyde Park address. But he said that the university should consider naming the site in Reagan’s honor, and that in the meantime, “It would be easy to put a plaque up — Reagan was the grandfather of the nation while he was president.”
Ironically, if Reagan’s father had not enjoyed his booze a little too much, the home’s presidential history might have been lost long ago.
Park Ridge resident Tom Roeser, 82, discovered the link in the early 1980s when he pressed Reagan for details of the home during a visit to the White House. Reagan couldn’t remember the address, but passed on a message: “My father was picked up often as a common drunk — the police records should have that fact.”
Records confirmed that John E. Reagan was arrested by Chicago Police for drunkenness in 1915, giving the 57th Street address, said Roeser, a former op-ed columnist for the Sun-Times and a former Quaker Oats vice president.
“When I went to the building and asked the man who answered the door whether he realized he was living in the president’s ancestral home, he slammed the door in my face,” Roeser recalled with a laugh. But he added of Reagan, “For such a powerful man to be so open about his father’s drinking really says something about how secure he was in himself.
“Tearing that building down would be a tragedy.”

June 2 2011 Landmarks Commission public suggestions hearing: The Herald repots that Redd Griffin of the Ronald Reagan in Chicago Committee proposed a six-flat building that the former president lived in for a year as a young man. "I think this is an anchor of some of the Chicago experience of Reagan," Griffin said. "He wrote about being a four-year-old at this very property." The University of Chicago owns the property and griffin said he has not broached the idea with the university yet.

Downtown has to be watched. A fine Alschuler former factory on the Orange List on the northwest side was barely spared in time from the wrecking ball in violation of the 90 day delay rule.

Chicago Theological Seminary questions have been moved a separate page.


Meadville Theological School is in substantial agreement on partnership with Andover Newton Theological School, with intent to stay in Chicago or Hyde Park with the institutions combined organizationally and in partnership with other seminaries. The Hyde Park property remains for sale but no buyer has yet been found.

Sutherland owners seek historic status

Herald, March 23, 2011. By Sam Cholke

The Sutherland is on its way to being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city's Commission on Chicago Landmarks said it would advise the state to add the former hotel at 4659 S. Drexel Blvd. to the register, which would allow developer Antheus Capital to apply for federal tax breaks. The listing on the National Register doesn't provide any specific protections to the building, according to Emily Ramsey, who prepared the application for Antheus. The designation allows the developer to apply for federal historic preservation tax credits, which knocks 20 percent off its taxes.

Getting on the register acknowledges and identifies the historic aspects of the building, but it's the tax break that will ensure it's protected. The State Historic Preservation Office will have to approve any development plans for the building before Antheus gets any tax incentives.

At a committee meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, city staff identified the building's facade and lobby as elements to be noted to teh state's Preservation Office. The proportions and layout of the lounge were also to be protected, but not specific elements as the room has been renovated. City staff agreed the upper residential floors were of no special note. Antheus intends to alter the upper floors to create larger apartments.

Staff from the city's Historic Preservation Division said the details are getting ironed out with the state and the National Park Service, who must now sign off on the designation, and the Sutherland wil likely be listed on the register in two or three months.

The building opened in 1917 as a hotel and was unremarkable through its early iterations as teh Cooper Montah Hotel and then as a military hospital during World War I. After the war, the building was revived as a hotel, adding the Sutherland Lounge on the first floor. Throughout the 195's and '60s, the hotel was a magnet for a diverse crowd of jazz fans who flocked to see greats like John Coltrane and Miles Davis on the weekends and a host of local up-and-comers during the week. Louis Armstrong was a resident in the hotel during its golden era, when Monday nights were set aside for jam sessions in the basement. The hotel reached its nadir and bean a slow decline and closed in 1982, reopening in 1989 as affordable housing.

Antheus' National Register application is the most recent in a long list of building owners and tenants using the brief jazz glory as leverage to revive the struggling structure. In 2001, the Sutherland Community Arts Initiative, a group of tenants and neighbors, won a $500,000 grant to bring jazz back to the lounge. Teh then-building owner Heartland Housing secured a grant in 2004 to renovate the performance space. The frequently crumbling residential portion of the building frequently stymied the project. Shortly before the lounge was set to reopen last year, a frozen pipe bust, putting the new carpeting under two feet of water. When the damage was repaired and the plans were back on track to revive the jazz lounge, the building was in negotiations to be sold to Antheus.

Antheus continues to continue with the renovation of the lounge with Heartland Housing and the Arts Initiative. The National Park Service is expected to approve National Register designation later this month.



Hyde Park Bank, other historic Chicago banks in landmarking track. Results

Hyde Park Herald, September 19, 2007. By Georgia Geis

The staff of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks has recommended the 1920s classical revival-styled Hyde Park Bank building, 1525 E. 53rd St., for landmark designation. The recommendation is part of a report detailing 13 neighborhood banks throughout Chicago, the majority of which were also built in the 1920s and all of which were recommended by the staff to the Landmarks Board of Commissioners.

"The Hyde Park Bank is an incredible building," said Landmarks Commissioner and noted architect Ben Weese. "It's a major building that anchors and solidifies a community."

The landmark recommendation comes during the final stage of a $4 million restoration and renovation. "The bank is really committed to being the retail anchor for 53rd Street," said Hyde Park Bank Marketing Director Cheryl Bonander.

In 2004, the bank's interior lobby was fully restored--from the green and black terrazzo floor and the grand staircases framed by elaborate bronze screens to the carved stone panels lining the walls of the lobby. Local architect Paul Florian was awarded a national award from the American Institute of Architects for the renovation of the second-floor banking hall.

The renovation also includes some practical modernization, including lighting, new retail signage and an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant door. "We aided an automatic side door. What we had before wasn't practical for many people," Bonander said.

According to the commission's report, entitled "Neighborhood Bank Buildings," in 1912, real estate developer John Carroll received a state charter to organize a bank, formerly the Hyde Park-Kenwood Federal Bank. Originally the bank was set up in a two-story house on the same site. The ten-story building that combines both streamline and geometric Art Deco features was designed by K.M. Vitzthum & Co. in 1928.

"The neighborhood bank buildings included in t his report are some of the most outstanding examples of the many historic bank buildings located throughout Chicago," according to an excerpt from the report. Weese agreed. "These buildings cannot be replicated [because of] the level of craftsmanship," said Weese. "The cost would be horrendous."

Landmark status on track for classical revival style Hyde Park Bank

Hyde Park Herald, July 23, 2008. by Kate Hawley

The Hyde Park Bank building is on its way to becoming a city landmark, after the Commission on Chicago Landmarks delivered its final approval on Thursday, July 10, and the building's owner gave consent in late June.

The Hyde Park Bank, located at 1525 E. 53rd St., is one of 16 bank buildings the city planned to designate as landmarks, citing their importance to Chicago's architectural legacy and the growth of its neighborhoods. While owners' consent isn't required for landmark designation, the city does take their objections into consideration. The Hyde Park Bank never objected, though it was among eight banks to file a 120-day extension after the commission sought its consent in January.

Landmark status will require the Hyde Park Bank to preserve historic and architectural features of the 1928 building, including all of its exterior elevations and rooflines. Parts of the interior wil also be protected, such as the first-floor lobby and the second-floor banking hall.

According to a report prepared by the commission, the building is a classic example of the monumental bank architecture that proliferated in neighborhoods across the city primarily in the first half of the 20th century. During that time, Illinois laws prevented larger banks from starting branches, which opened up the market to local banks.

The original Hyde Park Bank, which received a state charter in 1912, was located in a two-story house on the southwest corner of 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue, a site that also once held Hyde Park's town hall and the first post office.

Hyde Park Bank's early success--it held more than $6 million in deposits by 1926--prompted its owners to hire architecture firm K.M. Vitzhum & Co. to design a grander facility. The 10-story classical revival structure, built in 1928, was then the largest commercial block outside the Loop. It housed street-level retail, offices and he Hyde Park-Kenwood National Bank. That institution closed just four years later, in 1932['s financial panic pursuant to the Great Depression].

The current Hyde Park Bank is one of eight bank buildings whose owners consented to landmark designation on June 30. The commission gave its final approval July 10, sending the recommendation on to the City Council's Committee on Historical Landmarks Preservation. That body will vote on whether to send the proposed designations on to the full City Council. The council has already vote to approve landmark status for five of the 16 bank building. An additional three bank buildings are still undergoing review.


Historic homes protected in Bronzeville and south. Facilitates getting heritage corridor status 18th-71st, Ryan to Lake

Hyde Park Herald, February 17, 2010. By Daschell M. Phillips

The homes of three African American writers received protected landmark status last Wednesday by the City Council, along with two properties preserved for their historical adn architectural value. The Richard Wright House, 4831 S. Vincennes Ave.; Gwendolyn Brooks House, 7428 S. Evans Ave.; and the Lorraine [and Carl] Hansberry House, 6140 S. Rhodes ave., are building[s] associated with Chicago's "Black Renaissance" literary movement.

"The homes represent a time in [the] history of African Americans in Chicago expressing their culture and being involved in social activism between the 1930s and '50s," said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), who is a member of the Landmarks Committee.

The George Cleveland Hall Branch Library was a hub for Bronzeville's intellectual and literary crowd, said historian and Lakefront Outlook columnist Tim Black. "The Hall Library was where people met to listen to authors and poets speak," Black said. "That is where Lorraine [Hansberry] got her start."

The Griffiths-Burroughs Home was the first home of teh DuSable Museum of African American History and was designed by architect Solon S. Beman and built in 1892 by John W. Griffiths, whose company constructed many of Chicago's iconic structures including Union Station, the Merchandise Mart and the Civic Opera House Building. Dr. Margaret Burroughs, artist and founder of the DuSable Museum, still resides in the house.

"The Burroughs home continues to make Michigan Avenue a prominent drive," Dowell said. The Wright and Burroughs homes as well as the Hall Branch are in Dowell's ward

Black said the landmarks are important contributions to the people of Chicago because the writers and artists were major contributors to the intellectual and cultural wealth of Chicago and the United States.

Wright was famous for teh novel "Native Son," Brooks won teh Pulitzer Prize adn served as Illinois' poet laureate and Hansberry is best known for "A Raisin in the Sun," teh play based on her family's residential struggles that eventually led to a legal ruling that lifted restrictive neighborhood covenants for African Americans everywhere in the community.

"The landmark protection is great, but the real victory here is the recognition of Chicago's Black literary movement," said Paula Robinson, president of the Black Metropolis District National Heritage Area of Illinois.

The fact that literary giants such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Lorraine Hansberry wrote about living in Bronzeville and the restrictive covenants means that people can now come to the city and have a visual experience that will help interpret the uniqueness of Bronzeville as a historic area, Robinson said.

For the past five years teh Black Metropolis District National Heritage Area of Illinois has been working to make the area between 18th and 71st streets and Dan Ryan Expressway to teh lakefront a National Historic Area and works to preserve landmarks. It is also planning a yearlong celebration of events during the centennial year of Bronzeville in 2016.



Developer, in rush to cover every vacant square inch of neighborhood? fells last pre settlement cottonwood near 55th and Woodlawn