and Preservation home. History and Preservation
in Depth. At the Historical Society.
Preservation Beat. Landmarks
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
meeting July 14, Thursday, 7 pm, 5528 S. Woodlawn.
VISIT THE NEW WOODLAWN DISTRICT PAGE.
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
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.
|Timuel Black's book Bridges of Memory, part I The First Wave of Migration, is on sale. Now Part II is also. Black was long a Chicago school and City Colleges teacher. Read Sun-Times and Herald recently- published insightful reviews.|
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.
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.
herald contains an important article (attached here) with the title
"Group to inventory historic sites after close call."
This first phase is compete, a photo-album given to Ald. Hairston, and parts will be up in www.hydeparkhistory.org.
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.
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 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.
Hyde Park Herald, June 21 2006. By Brian Wellner
The developer of a graystone in the 5400 block of South Woodlawn Avenue cut down an old cottonwood tree June 17 that he said would get in the way of an addition he is planning to build. By Monday morning, Eamon McCauley of North Side-based Mid-Continental Development had the stump of he 150-year-old tree removed.
"It's my property and I will cut it down if I want to," said McCauley, who bought the for flat and adjacent lot at 5482 S. Woodlawn Ave last year. He is proposing to convert the adjacent lot into another four flat. The addition, he said, would have cut into the cottonwood's root and otherwise killed the tree. "We're building and we're going to remodel and build our addition," McCauley said. "It's not fair to put in an addition and disturb a tree's roots."
But neighbors were appalled when they learned over the weekend that the tree was chopped down. Ken Dunn has lived in his home in the 54o0 block of South Woodlawn since 1972 and said the tree provided an abundance of shade to homes on the block and pedestrians passing by on the sidewalk. "It felt much warmer on Sunday when I walked down the street because there was no shade," Dunn said.
McCauley's property abuts the 55th Street Starbucks. the tree stood prominently next to the sidewalk on Woodlawn Avenue and a fence that separates his lot and Starbucks. Taller than most of the buildings around it, local preservationists said the tree was the last of four cottonwoods that had been growing on the property since before Hyde Park was settled. The first of the four cottonwoods was felled before McCauley purchased the property. The developer said the second stood in the footprint of his addition and had to be taken down. The third, which stood near the alley behind the graystone, was rotted out on the inside and he said needed to be chopped down.
McCauley said he talked to local preservationists and an expert arborist about saving the fourth. The arborist, he sid, recommended that nothing be built within 20 feet of the tree, but that was not possible by McCauley's plans. "It was better off chopping it down," he said.
His decision came as surprise to Jack Spicer, a well-known Hyde Park preservationist. "With some respect for the history of the community, a bit of common sense an a little creativity, I believe that the developer could have built a nice building, made some money and still saved those trees," Spicer said.
Spicer said the cottonwood tree was probably older than the oldest house in Hyde Park. Cottonwoods usually grow along water sources. According to old maps of the neighborhood, a creek began around what is now the corner of 48th Street and Ellis Avenue, ran down Woodlawn to the Midway Plaisance and empties into Lake Michigan behind the Museum of Science and Industry. When the land was graded and the neighborhood developed, the creek went away but some of the cottonwoods remained. There is still one cottonwood in the 5600 block of South Kimbark Avenue across from Ray Elementary School. Preservationists are pushing the city to develop an ordinance that would save historic trees like this one.
McCauley is behind other condominium developments in Madison Park and in the 5100 block of South Kenwood Avenue. He said most of his buyers are doctors to the expanding University of Chicago Hospitals and parents of University of Chicago Lab School students wishing to be closer to the school. "The market is busy," he said. "We try to be respectful of the community we build in."
But Dunn said chopping down the cottonwood ruined some of the character of the neighborhood. "Suddenly that corner looks a little more like a suburb. We'll have to wait 100 years until there are trees of that character," he said.
Frances Vandervoort in the Herald said that saving trees has a history in Hyde Park and that vacant lots are a rarity with cooling shades. "The large cottonwoods in Mr. McCauley's lot were here long before Hyde Park became a village in 1856. They likely marked the path of a stream flowing across the portion of the Chicago lake plain that became Hyde Park's history... Give us some new trees that will grow, be tended and become as much a part of Hyde Park as the cottonwoods once were."
S. Reddy, on the other hand, says that cottonwoods are a fire hazard and weed tree and should be eliminated.
Historic Church sold, neighbors fear condos
Hyde Park Herald, September 14, 2005. By Tedd Carrison
The recent sale of a 101-year-old Kenwood church to an elusive developer has fueled concern among nearby property owners who fear a high-density condominium building is planned for the historic district.
More than two dozen Kenwood residents packed the living room of a local home Sept. 1 to discuss uncertainties about the future of the historic property and form a unified voice to ensure they have a stake.
Formerly the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, the 27,000-square-foot building at 4820 S. Kenwood Ave. now sits vacant. It was designed near the turn of the 20th centaury by renowned Chicago architect Solon Beman.
In 2003, the Shiloh congregation dissolved and sold the property to Art Smith, famed chef of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Smith's planed to convert the building into a small television studio, a cooking school and his own private residence never blossomed and he sold it to a party known only as the 4820 S. Dorchester LLC
Residents feared that a high-density structure may be proposed for the site and it could bring traffic and parking problems and compromise the historic look of the building. At the meeting, church neighbor Jean Maclean Snyder said a group of neighbors believe a 32-unit condominium is in the works and it calls for parking to accommodate 1.2 cars per unit or more. She said they expect the church facade will be maintained but the rear will be expanded.
Kenwood resident David Erhmann said he recently met with Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) where he briefly saw the plans but th alderman did not address them.
Mae Wilson, planning and development coordinator for the 4th Ward said no plans have been presented to the alderman. "I am sure there are plans and there is a future and we are looking forward to seeing a presentation [from the developer]" said Wilson. She was uncertain when that presentation will be but expects it should be later this month [September] with a community meeting to follow. "The community will have a voice," she said. "As always that is a part of the process."
Kenwood's distinction as a landmark district and the church's orange rating on the Chicago Historical Resources Survey place restrictions on developers but some residents said they fear these may be circumvented.
In the past weeks, neighbors next to the church have received letters and phone calls expressing interest in buying the adjacent parcels and paving them for parking lots, said Kenwood resident Jim Block at the meeting. "I would not sell to someone who would tear the house down. Not in a thousand years," he said. The inquiries came from agents affiliated with Prospect Equities, a management company based in Homer Glen, Ill. Prospect Vice-President Jody McArthur said she was not familiar with the Kenwood property or the offers made under her company's name, but explained that developers often contact one of her 200 agents to research properties the developer may have no strong intention of buying.
The neighborhood group intends to meet with residents south of Kenwood and the alderman. It also delegated a five-person committee to meet with Preckwinkle and present her with a neighborhood petition.
In the end, most complaints sem to have been resolved.
University to demolish historic-rated home
Hyde Park Herald, September 14, 2005. by Tedd Carrison
In coming weeks, a 112-year-old limestone home on Hyde Park's west side will come down to make room for the University of Chicago's Center for Biomedical Discovery. Once a comely residence with stout granite columns capped by crisp Corinthian capitals, 5623 S Drexel Ave. has been gutted of nearly everything but the fireplace and sunlight shines unabated through a hole in the attic ceiling. To some, the pending demolition is a harbinger of progress, to others an act of pillage. But to the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, the building is part of a historic survey that reaches far beyond centenarian homes.
In 1983, under the direction of the planning department, the Chicago Historic Resources Survey (CHRS) began cataloguing all buildings constructed before 1940. The project lasted 12 years, and detailed each building's date of construction, architect, landmark status and more. The planning department used this information to color-code each of the properties using red, orange, green, yellow and blue in descending order of historical importance.
Red-rated properties are "potentially significant" in a city, state or nation-wide context. Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House is red-rated. Orange could be significant community-wide. Yellow and green are too altered or historically insignificant to be included in the CHRS database. Blue represents the remaining pre-1940 construction and therefore, too, was excluded from the database.
The Drexel Avenue building along with many others in Hyde Park is designated "orange" by the CHRS. Due to an ordinance passed in January 2003, demolition permits for red and orange-rated buildings are provided a 90-day waiting period to "ensure that no important historic resource can be demolished without consideration as to whether it should be preserved," said Brian Goeken, deputy commissioner for landmarks at the Chicago department of planning.
In the Drexel building's case the university applied for waiver for the 90-day rule, claiming it had exhausted all options to save the building and a stringent construction schedule allowed little time to wait. Goeken said the length of time a developer must wait to demolish under the 90-day ordinance varies with the discretion of the planning department.
"The goal of the orange process, as I know it, is to explore whether there are alternatives [to demolition]... and in this case there aren't," said Hank Webber, vice president of Community and Governmental Affairs at the U. of C. Webber said the university considered many options including temporarily moving the structure across the street but in the end "there seemed to be no feasible way to save this building," he said.
Local preservationist Jack Spicer agreed that the building is beyond salvaging and believed that the university's preservation efforts were sincere, but said if its orange distinction wa noted early enough and everyone involved worked together it might have been "taken off death row."
Other notable orange-rated buildings in Hyde Park and Kenwood include the abandoned Doctors Hospital, 5800 S. Stony Island Ave.; the former Shiloh Church, 4820 S. Dorchester Ave.; and the vacant Harper Theater 5234-38 S. Harper Ave...
Kimbark demo gets mixed reviews from neighborhood. A 114-year-old Kimbark Avenue home is demolished in early October 
Hyde Park Herald, October 20, 2004. by Mike Stevens
Work crews poured the concrete footing last week for a multi-unit condominium building that will replace a recently demolished 114-year-old wood frame house at 5121 S. Kimbark Ave.
Many nearby residents welcomed the new construction but area preservationists worry that the tear-down might signal a trend for demolition and redevelopment in parts of Hyde Park. "I am excited about the new property going up," said Sharon Arnold, who lives across the street from the construction. "I think it will probably help the property values."
Lorene Richardson, who has lived on the block for nearly 40 years, said it was about time something happened on the lot. The weed-choked lot was such an eyesore that she went to 4th Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle's office to complain and see if the owner could be tracked down and forced to clean-up the neglected property. "The weeds had gone up to your knees this summer," Richardson said. "We're glad to see something besides that place because it was conducive to vandalism,"
The demolition does not bode well for the 24 similar wood frame single family houses between 53rd and 51st Streets, Hyde Park Historical Society member Jack Spicer said. Development in Kenwood to the north is limited by the area's landmark status. A tradition of preservation and a solid stock of smaller buildings in the heart of Hyde Park will likely prevent teardowns south of 55th Street. The majority of the housing stock between 55th and 51st streets consists of larger multi-unit buildings, making single-family teardowns easier to rationalize, Spicer said.
With Hyde Park real estate on the rise, Spicer said developers will inevitably be drawn to these "underutilized" lots on which single family homes sit. "That frontier between these two neighborhoods is what is going to take the biggest beating." Spicer said. "Shouldn't we all think about [this type of demolition] a little bit. Because once it's done; it's done."
Fourth ward officials say they have noticed no such trend. They also point out that many of the single family homes in that part of Hyde Park have already been broken up into apartments, including the recently demolished frame house at 5121 S. Kimbark Ave.
Calls to the developer went unreturned.
University Park Towers gets preservation nod
Hyde Park Herald, September 8, 2004. by Mike Stevens
The 43-year-old University Park Condominiums building in the middle of 55th Street at Dorchester Avenue was nominated recently for listing on the National Historic Register. The listing would put the I.M. Pei- designed building among the nations's most historically significant properties as well as provide a possible tax break on future renovations. Condominium owners could also expect a likely jump in their property values with a listing.
The two poured-concrete condominium towers represent an excellent example of community planning* and is a well preserved example of an ambitious urban renewal development of the 1960s, said David Blanchette, a spokesman from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. "This is a specific example of a particular time period of the city and it's wonderfully preserved," Blanchette said.
The 706,300 square foot development was the design anchor to the first major Hyde Park redevelopment at the beginning of Urban Renewal. "[The University Apartments] were part of the project that kept the University of Chicago in the neighborhood,"** Margaret Duggar said. Duggar, a retired English professor, has lived in the building for more than 3o years and heads up the ad hoc committee of building residents pursuing the Historic Register listing.
The 35-page nomination application high-lights the building's crisp-lined modern feel of the International Style. In addition, the buildings close-set recessed windows mark the development of an innovative concrete-pouring technique by Pei and engineer August F. Kommerdant, the application states. Styrofoam forms allowed all exterior load-bearing walls to boast almost floor to ceiling windows separated by slender concrete columns.
Pei's design, which placed the building in the middle of 55th Street and lifts 9-stories of apartments above green-space and an open-air courtyard on the ground floor, followed principles laid out by Le Corbusier. The Swiss-born architect believed that multi-unit buildings should be placed in park settings and along transportation routes. Le Corbusier's philosophy also promoted the inclusion of shops on the ground floor of such buildings to involve non-residents in the structure, said Hyde Park Historical Society member Devereux Bowly. Because of [failure to include] this, the white concrete apartment towers do not involve the community as much as they could, Bowly said.
Hyde Parkers, forced to hike around the nearly 4-block development,
say the problem has gotten worse since a security fence closing off
the courtyard to non-residents went up in 1978. "We're stuck
with it for better or worse. But if you understand the context both
locally and nationally [a historic listing] is more understandable,"
Bowly said. Pei later designed the glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre
in Paris and a National Gallery of Art addition in Washington D.C.
Nat'l Register has art deco high-rise in sights
Hyde Park Herald, January 5, 2005. By Mike Stevens
The Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council recently recommended placing the Narragansett apartment building, 1640 E. 50th St., on the National Register of Historic Places. The honorary status would put the 75-year-old, art-deco high-rise building among the nations's most prestigious historic buildings as well as provide residents a tax break on a $2.5 million renovation to the terra cotta-laden exterior walls.
An eight-year property tax freeze might mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings for each of the 63 residents at the building, condominium president David Guyer said. "The tax benefit really is the major perk for most [residents]," guyer said.
Condominium owners could also expect a likely jump in their property values with such a listing, Illinois Historic Preservation officials said.
With the assistance of a historic consultant, the condo board began preparing 60 pages of material supporting its application almost a year ago. In spite of the Dec. 10 recommendation, the Narragansett must still win the approval of the top state and federal preservation officers. The final word from the Keeper of the National Register in Washington D.C. could come by late summer , Guyer said.
Completed in 1930 for $1.5 million, the Narragansett represents a fine example of the art deco style, but numerous ornamental details designed by Charles Morgan make the building exceptional, according to the building's National Register application. Morgan blended artistry and architecture making a living rendering architectural plans and concepts. For the Narragansett, Morgan designed sculptural panels of Native Americans, animals and plants in the smooth, linear forms characteristic of the Art Deco style. He offset these decorative terra cotta relief sculptures with unusual painted panels of different colors. Morgan designed similar decorative elements at the adjacent Powhatan apartment building.
Ashlar block limestone anchors the building's first three floors while brick piers, terra cotta spandrels and tiles with vertical grooves all contribute to the 22-story building's sense of upward momentum. "It's certainly one of the major lakefront elevator buildings," Hyde Park Historical Society member Devereux Bowly said.
Interior details include chrome chandeliers and sconces with pineapple finials and art deco brackets, terrazzo floors, marble baseboards and wood-paneled walls inset with a geometric pattern.
The Narragansett was one of a wave of new luxury high rises that sprouted along Lake Michigan in the 1920s when Chicago's zoning laws were relaxed [and for the South Side after the Illinois Central had been electrified].
[More: Neil Harris's Chicago's Luxury Apartments. 2004. Stay tuned on completion of the process and how the taxes work out. GMO]
By early summer of 2010 Antheus had entered a contract to buy from Heartland Alliance the 1917 Sutherland Hotel at 47th and Drexel. Its ballroom had once been venues for Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillespie and a major restoration project of jazzman _______ after his return from years as an emigre in Paris. Sutherland was Heartland's first major affordable residential project-- the tax credits require 25% set aside regardless of owner. When Heartlands' request for renewal was denied in 2007, the building was put up for sale and occupancy is now under one third. An assessment and final approval of ballroom renovations by the city is now underway, after which the city will release a $500,000 Empowerment grant for arts programming at the Sutherland ballroom (renovated from a $412,645 grant.) In order for the affordable tax write offs to continue, Heartland must continue as tenant of the ballroom and other things have to be arranged such as temporary set aside of the affordable credits during renovation. Antheus and Heartland expect to have all worked out within a year so renovation can begin.
Large condos slated for Harvard School
Hyde Park Herald, December 8, 2004. By Kiratiana E. Freelon
Two Hyde Park businessmen plan to develop the 89-year-old Harvard School building, 4731 S. Ellis Ave., into four loft-type condominiums. Steve Solbo, owner of Lucky Strike [now Seven Ten Pin], 1055 E. 55th St.,* and Duncan Harris, owner of Kimwood Real Estate and Development Management, bought the recently closed school this September after expressing interest in April.
[The Herald information may be incorrect and Steve "Soble" is Mr. Solbo (?) former owner of Piccolo Mondo in the Windermere.]
Solbo said many developers passed on the building because they would have had to reconfigure the interior. Developers did not know what to do with the gymnasium, he said. "I got this kooky idea of turning the gymnasium into my house. Suddenly that made the project look a lot better."
In addition to developing four condos for each floor of the main building, Solbo and Harris will develop most of the 5,400-square-foot gym into a single-family home for Soldo. The 3,000 to 3,500-square-foot condos will have four bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths and two indoor heated parking spaces. The duo will keep the building's rear courtyard.
Due to its location in a landmark district, Harris and Solbo took painstaking care to receive the support and approval from Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), the [Kenwood Open House Committee?], Hyde Park Historical Society and the South East [Chicago] Commission. According to Harris, the duo's plans received unprecedented community support from all local preservation organizations due to its creative adaptive use of a building built in 1915. Solbo said the typical developer would have attempted to fit as many small units into the interior as possible, with little regard for the parking issues or the historical value of the building.
Local preservationists showed overwhelming support for the project. "From a preservationist point of view, they are like a dream come true," said Jack Spicer, Hyde Park Historical Society member, Hyde Park Historical Society member. Spicer highlighted their plans to keep the building's marble and steel railing, heavy oak wood doors and frames, and 12-feet-tall windows.
Brian Goeken, Deputy Commissioner of Landmarks, granted the pair's permit request to conduct internal demolition December 3.
Solbo and Harris will begin remodeling in January and hope to have the units available for sale next summer. Robert Sullivan of Urban Search Real Estate will sell the units.