South Shore Cultural Center: Criteria for Chicago landmark designation and significant historical and architectural features and the designation, May 2004

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Commission on Chicago Landmarks site. Landmarks designation process and criteria

Landmark designation was granted by City Council May 26, 2004. See April 1, 2004 letter and Recommendation. See Hyde Park Herald coverage June 9.


Plan with landrmarked parts, South Shore Cultural Center clubhouse

Criteria for Designation, from the CCL staff recommendation, 2003

According to the Municipal Code of Chicago (Sect. 2-120-620 and -630), the Commission on Chicago Landmarks has the authority to make a preliminary recommendation of landmark designation for a building, structure, or district if the Commission determines it meets two or more of the stated "criteria for landmark designation," as well as possessed a significant degree of its historic design integrity.

[Relevant to South Shore Cultural Center:]

Criterion 4: Important Architecture

Its exemplification of an architectural type or style distinguished by innovation, rarity, uniqueness, or overall quality of design, detail, materials, or craftsmanship.

Criterion 5: Important Architect

Its identification as the work of an architect, designer, engineer, or builder whose individual work is significant in the history or development of the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, or the United States.

Criterion 7: Unique Visual Feature

Its unique location or distinctive physical appearance or presence representing an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community, or the City of Chicago.

Integrity Criterion

Its integrity is preserved in light of its location, design, setting, materials, workmanship and ability to express its historic, community, architectural or aesthetic interest or value.

The South Shore Cultural Center buildings, including the club building, gatehouse and stable have excellent integrity and have experience relatively few changes to their exterior. The same high degree of physical integrity is found on the interior public spaces, including a ballroom, solarium, and dining room arranged around a grandly-scaled, two-story-high Passagio, or circulation foyer.

In the 1980s and 1990s the building underwent a comprehensive restoration. During this time, the pergola was reconstructed in a manner reminiscent of the original configuration.

Significant Historical and Architectural Features

Whenever a building is under consideration for landmark designation, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks is required to identify the "significant historical and architectural features" of the property. This is done to enable the owners and the public to understand which elements are considered most important to preserve the historical and architectural character of the proposed landmark.

Based on its evaluation of the South Shore Cultural Center, the Commission staff recommends that the significant features be identified as:

[Note: the council has asked consideration of the Oak Room and Music Room on the Mezzanine to Significant Historical and Architectural Features.]


Letter on landmark designation

April 2, 2004 To Timothy J. Mitchell, General Superintendent

RE: Final Landmark Recommendation to City Council for the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 South Shore Drive.

This letter is to inform you that at its April 1st meeting, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks recommended that the South Shore Cultural Center be designated a Chicago Landmark. A Copy of that recommendation, which will be introduced at the May 5th meeting of City Council, is enclosed.

The designation will then be considered by the City Council Committee on Historical Landmark Preservation. The contact person for the committee is Iris Whitman, who can be reached at (773) 324-5224.


Brian Goeken
Deputy Commissioner Landmarks Division

Recommendation to the City Council of Chicago that Chicago Landmark designation be approved for the South Shore Cultural Center 7059 South Shore Drive. Docket # 2004-6.

To the Mayor and Members of the City Council of the City of Chicago:

Pursuant to $2-120-690 of the Municipal Code of Chicago, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks has reviewed the criteria for Landmark designation as pertains to the South Shore Cultural Center , located at 7059 South Shore Drive.


1. Finds, based on the "Landmark Designation Report" on the South Shore Cultural Center and the entire record before the Commission....that the South She Cultural Center meets three of the criteria for landmark designation as set forth in $2-120-620 (4), (5), and (7) of the Municipal Code; and

1. Finds that the South Shore Cultural Center satisfies the historic integrity requirement as st forth in $2-120-630 o the Municipal Code; and

3. Incorporates herein and attaches hereto as Exhibit 1 the Commission's resolution on the Final Landmark Recommendation for the South Shore Cultural Center; and

4. Recommends that the South Shore Cultural Center be designated as a Chicago Landmark.

/s/ David Mosena, Chairman

Resolution follows essentially as in the preceding section.


Final notice to owner

June 1, 2004
General Superintendent, Chicago Park District
541 N. Fairbanks, 4th Fl.

Chicago, IL 60611

Re: Chicago Landmark Designation of the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 South Shore Drive.

Dear M. Mitchell:

The SOUTH SHORE CULTURAL CENTER was designated a Chicago landmark by ordinance of the City Council on May 26, 2004. A certified copy of the designation ordinance for the property will be sent to you a soon as it is published.

Enclosed is a copy of the Landmarks Ordinance and the Rules and Regulation of the Commission on Chicago landmarks. The Commission would like to assure you that its staff is always available to assist you.

Brian Goeken
Deputy Commissioner
Landmarks Division


Hyde Park Herald coverage of designation, June 9, 2004

By Mike Stevens

A May 26 City Council vote granted landmark status to the stories South Shore Cultural Center, thereby saving the 88-year-old building from the wrecking ball once and for all.

City Landmark status protects the former country club from demolition and any"insensitive" changes to the historic exterior of the building according to officials from the Chicago Landmarks Commission. For the city, the landmarking is part of a new effort to protect Chicago Park District buildings, planning department spokesman Peter Scales said.

"The Park District has some incredible architecture. While they are thought of largely as safe, we certainly want to recognize them and absolutely secure their future," Scales said.

The City Council's decision, which comes after years of requests, formalizes the Mediterranean Revival-style building's prized status, Park Advisory Council President Lorene Richardson said.

Chicago architects Benjamin Marshall and Charles Fox--best known for their work on the Drake Hotel--designed the building in 1906 for the South Shore Country Club. Chicago's wealthiest residents used the lakefront club to stable horses, play golf and socialize. As the club's membership grew, the original structure was demolished in 1916 to make room for a larger version of the same building.

The Chicago Park District purchased the 58-acre site for nearly $10 million in 1974. At first, district officials intended to raze the resort-style buildings but backed down after community protest and the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

In 1979, work crews began a decade long restoration of the neglected building and its sizable gatehouse.

The decision to nix demolition plans marked an about face in the way the park district usually handled historic buildings, according to district historian Julia Bachrach. "You could actually point to this as the beginning of the preservation movement in Chicago's parks," Bachrach said before the Council's decision.

The newly-restored 63rd Street bathing pavilion in Jackson park is the next park district building set to be landmarked, Scales said. If successful, the 85-year-0ld beach house will be declared a landmark by next June.