UPDATE: After nearly a year of diligent and unrelenting preservation advocacy efforts, the highly ornate 1905 American Foursquare mansion in East Lake View has entered a Preliminary Determination process to become a protected Chicago Landmark following the successful vote at the Chicago Commission on Landmarks’ August 3rd meeting and cannot be demolished during this designation process. Designed for silk merchant Daniel O. Hill by architect Fredrick W. Perkins has served as the Serbian American Museum/St. Sava since 1952.
Preservation Chicago applauds 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney for his strong leadership and vocal opposition to the demolition of this important historic building and East Lake View Landmark. In addition to the Alderman, the successful outcome of this rapid-response advocacy effort extends to community leaders, the Serbian American community, community organizations and residents, Preservation Chicago, Landmarks Illinois, and DPD Landmarks staff which considered the request for Landmark Designation and recommended that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks grant preliminary protections and begin the landmark process.
The building remains listed for sale with an asking price of $3,850,000. According to the museum board, the landmarked building is worth $1 million less that the property as vacant land. The difference in valuation is largely due to a historic single-family home being burdened with a high-density, multi-family zoning. Adjusting zoning to better conform with existing use would eliminate much of this disparity for this and many other historic homes throughout Lake View and other Chicago neighborhoods.
Background: Shortly before the Chicago Commission on Landmarks’ April meeting, the Board of the Serbian American Club withdrew the demolition permit request, for the second time. This action removed the historic Daniel O. Hill House from the agenda with the idea that further discussions would follow with 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney and community members.
Preservation Chicago and community stakeholders remained vigilant until the building’s future was secure; either by being sold to a preservation-sensitive buyer or through landmark protection. The building was clearly significant enough to be eligible for an individual landmark. Preservation Chicago continues to support an expanded East Lake View or “Meekerville” Historic Landmark District in the future.
As part of a planned sale to a developer, the Board of the Serbian American Club had twice submitted a request for a demolition permit which triggered the 90-day demolition delay. For many months, Preservation Chicago has been providing assistance to the Serbian-American community and Lake View residents that have been leading the effort to stop the sale and demolition of the Serbian American Museum & Club/St Sava. An online petition to stop the sale and demolition received approximately 900 signatures. Preservation Chicago has been in communication with Alderman Tunney and his staff, has written letters of support to DPD Landmarks Staff in support of Landmark Designation, and has included updates in the monthly Preservation Chicago Newsletter, in addition to providing public testimony at the Commission on Chicago Landmarks hearings.
This preservation effort might yield greater benefits for Lake View. Blair Kamin reported that, “Tunney held a community meeting Feb. 28 to discuss a possible landmark district for an area that would include the Barry Avenue mansion and other properties. The district would be bounded by Sheridan and Broadway, and Belmont and Oakdale Avenues, Lawson said.
But while Tunney backs landmark status for the mansion, he has not committed to the district. “He would like to have a buy-in from the owners,” Lawson said.”
The Serbian American Museum & Club/St Sava has operated since 1952 from the historic 11,400 square foot mansion in East Lake View. This extraordinary Prairie Style home, originally the Daniel O. Hill House at 448 W. Barry Ave was designed by Frederick W. Perkins and was completed in 1902. Its graceful proportions, broad porch, intricate classical ornament, unique and highly-ornamented arched third floor dormer and fine detailing with Roman brick make it a natural candidate for consideration as a Designated Chicago Landmark.
Even among the many wonderful historic homes in Lake View, the Hill House is so important that it was individually recognized for its architectural significance on a short list of 14 homes from the hundreds of homes within the 1972 Lakeview Historic District National Register Nomination.
This orange-rated building is architecturally outstanding and has served an important cultural resource for the Chicago Serbian community for over 60 years. Preservation Chicago fully supports a Historic Landmark Designation and strongly supports a wider Historic Landmark District to protect greater number of significant Lake View homes and buildings. We applaud the Landmarks Commission, 44th Ward Alderman Tunney, Serbian and Lake View neighborhood organizations, and Lakeview neighbors for taking the steps necessary to protect this important historic landmark and urge them to protect others in the district.