Wins and Losses for Chicago Preservation in 2017

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1436 W. Berwyn faced demo, but now owned by preservation-minded buyer [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

2017 brought the usual bag of heartbreaking losses in Chicago’s housing and building stock, but there are several notable wins too. In our annual retrospective of historic preservation, many themes of years past continue: 19th-century Italianate homes and flats in hot neighborhoods are replaced with new construction, one-of-a-kind landmarks in or near the city center are lost in the name of progress, and demolition by neglect continues.

As the race to capitalize on this current real estate cycle continues, landmark status is often the only effective tool to preserve historically important structures. Preservation-minded real estate buyers also continue to affect real change in preservation efforts.

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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


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/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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