63rd Street Heyday’s Remnants at Risk as Woodlawn Development Takes Off

Mike Medina 1 comment

63rd Street in Woodlawn [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

63rd Street in Woodlawn [Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns]

With the coming of the Obama Presidential Center, the continued southward expansion by the University of Chicago and a tentative plan to remake the Jackson Park golf course into a PGA Tour-worthy venue, the fortunes of Woodlawn look to be rapidly changing.  Once one of the city’s largest entertainment and night-life districts, a new spotlight is shining brightly on an area long marked by disinvestment, demolition and decline.

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Gary Preservation Tour Open House on June 17

Eric Allix Rogers Leave a comment
City Methodist Church (Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns)

City Methodist Church (Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Patterns)

Mark your calendar for June 17! You’ll want to be in Gary, Indiana for the first-ever Gary Preservation Tour Open House. After beating their crowdfunding goal by 20%, the organizers have been hard at work lining up sites to open to the public from 10am to 4pm.

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Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Charnley House, Part 2

Rachel Freundt Leave a comment

Architectural Drawing of the James Charnley House [Historic Architecture and Landscape Image Collection]

In this three-part series, I will be examining the relationship between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his mentor Louis Sullivan, specifically in the controversy surrounding one of the most important designs in early modern architecture: the James Charnley House, constructed between 1891-92, in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Although Adler & Sullivan were the architects of record at the time of construction, since the 1930s Frank Lloyd Wright has been routinely listed alongside them (or sometimes alone) since he wrote in An Autobiography in 1932 that he solely designed the home. No one challenged this assertion, especially Adler & Sullivan, as both were long dead by the time Wright’s memoir was published. Although the commission was widely published in architectural journals of the time, like the August 1891 issue of Inland Architect and the January 1892 issue of Architectural Record as one of Sullivan’s most important works, Sullivan’s name was mostly omitted from discussions of the Charnley House for the next half century. Even Hugh Sullivan’s 1935 monograph on Louis Sullivan, the first detailed assessment of the architect’s work, validated Wright’s claims first made in An Autobiography. No sketches, no plans, no furnished interior photos survive of the home. Because of this lack of concrete contemporary evidence and the fact that scholars never conducted a detailed investigation over the years, one can see how easy it was for Wright to claim this ground-breaking design as his own.

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Beautiful 19th Century Homes on Borrowed Time

John Morris Leave a comment

Gingerbread Gothic home at 1944 N Sedgwick will likely be destroyed [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

In Chicago, as it is nationwide, demand for housing is outstripping supply. Speculators and wealthy individuals are eagerly rushing in to meet the top-end demand, leaving a trail of destroyed historic housing stock in their wake. Meanwhile, the supply of low and mid-range housing stock remains largely unaddressed.

This is often evident in real estate listing descriptions that say “the value is in the land,” for properties that exceed a million dollars with the implicit understanding that the home will be razed and replaced. This is playing out heavily in North Side neighborhoods like Lake View and Lincoln Park, where blocks of mostly new construction mega-mansions dot the landscape.

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