Dual Landmark Status Not Enough to Save Building in Pilsen

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1144 18th St. [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

On 18th Street, an 1885 Italianate mixed-use building will soon make way for a new residential building. Marketed as teardown with the infamous phrase “the value is in the land,” the new owner’s intent is revealed in a pending demolition permit.

What makes the loss of the structure more acute is its status on two historic surveys. It is listed as contributing in the Pilsen Historic District on the National Register and is Orange-rated on the Chicago Historic Resources survey.

Sadly, neither designation carries enough weight to prevent demolition.

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The Value is in the Land: Lincoln Park Italianate Edition

John Morris 2 comments

2145 N Fremont, released from Demolition Delay list over the summer [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

Last month we looked at the history of Italianate cottages and flats in the near West/Northwest Side neighborhoods, and how they are getting torn down to make way for larger residences. While that story is relatively new for those neighborhoods, it’s almost a tradition in near North Side areas like Lincoln Park.

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Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Charnley House, Part 3

Rachel Freundt 7 comments

[Rachel Freundt/Chicago Patterns]

In the final installment of this three-part series examining the relationship between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his mentor Louis Sullivan and the controversy surrounding the James Charnley House (1891-92), I will closely examine the remarkable interior of this landmark design, the first house anywhere in the world to embrace modernism in its complete elimination of historical detail and emphasis on abstract forms and geometric simplicity, anticipating the architecture of the twenties and thirties. The inside spaces are just as avant-garde as the home’s exterior, which was discussed in Part 2. In An Autobiography Frank Lloyd Wright called it “the first modern house in America.” 

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The Emergence, Demolition, and Preservation of Italianate Cottages and Flats

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2429 W Augusta (center) facing demolition [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]


As Northwest Side neighborhoods along the Blue Line experience glowing hot growth in real estate values, original homes and flats are getting erased in favor of expensive new construction. While this trend has long been an issue in older neighborhoods near the lake or the Loop, this rapid expansion of teardown construction in these neighborhoods is a more recent phenomenon.

In years past, as successive waves of people moved into these neighborhoods, existing housing stock was a source of pride and buildings were rehabbed and improved. The change in neighborhood demographics this time is different as wealthy newcomers often opt for large single-family homes often built after tearing down an existing home.

The loss of housing stock in these areas is particularly painful as the homes getting destroyed are well over a hundred years old, many of which were erected in the aftermath of the Great Fire.

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