Help Crowdfund Gary Preservation Tours

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City Methodist Church [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

City Methodist Church [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

Like so many Chicagoans, I’m guilty of being a disaster tourist in Gary. The allure of its picturesque ruins beckons to many a photographer.

US Steel [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

US Steel [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

The “City of the Century” is a shadow of the industrial powerhouse that it once was, with a fraction of its peak population. The mighty steel works around which it was built soldier on, but the era of mass industrial employment has long since passed. What becomes of a company town when the company no longer needs it?

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Preservation Chicago’s 2017 “Chicago 7” Most Endangered List

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2042 W. Madison [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

2042 W. Madison [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

Preservation Chicago announced this year’s “Chicago 7” list of most endangered buildings in a press conference today at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The list is intended to draw attention to the most significant threatened buildings in Chicago each year.

St. Boniface [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

St. Boniface [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

Released annually since 2003, the list has led to numerous hard-won preservation successes. Both St. Boniface church and the New York Life Building, included in the inaugural list and several others since, have recently been in the news after efforts to save them ultimately succeeded. Other listed buildings remain in limbo or have gone on to be demolished, but not without a fight.

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Edgar Miller, the Designer

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Glasner Studio [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

Imagine a neighborhood near downtown Chicago. The buildings are solid, high quality, “Old World” craftsmanship – but they’re also getting shabby and worn.

Now imagine that you’re the young scion of a wealthy family with a successful business. You dropped out of art school and went to Paris to find yourself for a couple of years – and came back with a vision to make money by renovating cheap old buildings into spaces for artists.

This isn’t a story about Wicker Park in the 1990s, or Pilsen or Logan Square today. It’s Old Town, circa 1927 – and the person with that initial vision was Sol Kogen. Call it arts-based community development or call it gentrification, his business model was not all that different from what many developers do today. What set that vision apart – what gave it an unmistakable style – was the artistry and craftsmanship of Edgar Miller.

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The Bamboo Lounge

Eric Allix Rogers 20 comments

Schlitz stained glass at 9401 S. Ewing [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

How much should be read into the disappearance of a single stained glass window? For the forlorn Bamboo Lounge at 9401 S. Ewing, could it be a warning of worse to come? A distinctive time capsule of a neighborhood tied house tavern, the building clings – for now – to the ragged frontier between the industrial past and the uncertain future of Chicago’s far southeast side. But for how much longer?

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