LIKELY LOSS: “Spotlight on Demolition” Nearly 2,000 Signatures to Oppose Demolition of 1441 W. Carmen Avenue!

1441 W. Carmen Avenue, Photo Credit: Leyla Royale

“It’s an old, common cry in a city where demolition and development are often spoken in the same breath, and where trying to save historic homes from the wrecking ball can feel as futile as trying to stop the snow. My Twitter feed teems with beautiful houses doomed to vanish in the time it takes to say ‘bulldozed’. Bungalows, two-flats, three-flats, greystones, workers’ cottages. The photos, posted by people who lament the death of Chicago’s tangible past, flit through my social media feed like a parade of the condemned en route to the guillotine”, mused Mary Schmich in her Chicago Tribune column on July 12, 2018

In the face of overwhelming odds, Leyla Royale took action when she learned about the pending demolition of a beautiful 1890’s, three-story, orange-brick Victorian Queen Anne, with a high-pointed gable, bay window, front porch with slender columns. “The yard is lush, shady and, most important for a developer, really big.” (Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)

“[I] loved walking by the house, thinking about all the people who had passed through it, all the history it contained. Tearing it down seemed crazy.” said Royale. (Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)

“It really upset me.” Royale said. So she started an online petition to Save 1441 Carmen Avenue.  

Apparently, she was not alone, as within a day or so of her starting the petition, and with the support of Preservation Chicago’s Rapid Response advocacy, the petition received over 1,200 signatures! Now the number of signatures has grown to nearly 2,000. Royale and the Winona Foster Carmen Winnemac (WFCW) Block Club presented the petition to 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar.

“I think a lot of people in neighborhoods are tired of buildings like this being torn down for cookie-cutter condos and cookie-cutter million-dollar single-family homes,” Royale said.

“Now we’re really in a crisis where we’re seeing fine quality buildings being demolished across the city,” said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. The massive new constructions change the light, the air, the mood of neighborhoods; steal our visible connection to the past. Stopping the trend may be impossible, but it could be slowed.” (Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)

“Martin Tangora, a longtime Chicago preservationist, suggests extending the demolition holds on orange-rated buildings from 90 days to 180. Strengthen the public notice process to make sure neighbors hear of the notice. Expand the number of buildings covered by the demolition delays.” (Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)

The historic Queen Anne home at 1441 Carmen is under threat of demolition! (From the Save 1441 Carmen Avenue Petition)

One of the oldest (if not the oldest) properties on the block, this Victorian gem is the last of its kind on Carmen Avenue in Andersonville. It was built at the turn of the century on a double lot and offers valuable green space to the neighborhood. It’s a rare example of a building type which was more common in the area before the rapid development of Uptown/Andersonville in the 1910s and 1920s.To lose this structure would be to lose part of the beauty of the neighborhood.

Most homes in the Andersonville area just west of Broadway and east of Clark are courtyard buildings, workers cottages, and two and three flats. 1441 Carmen is the only Victorian Queen Anne style house in the neighborhood. With the rise of popularity in Andersonville and Uptown, developers are coming in to purchase these homes, tear them down, and put up condo buildings possible in the same lot space, often building nearly from lot line to lot line. This is slowly but surely destroying the architecture of the neighborhood and what makes Andersonville so unique in Chicago.

This house was rated Orange by the City of Chicago, meaning that it’s a building containing potentially significant architectural and historic value or interest, and is of significance to the local community. Other Chicago buildings with the Orange designation include the Palmer House Hotel, Orchestra Hall/Symphony Center, Chicago Athletic Club, and more. Currently, research is underway to learn more about the exact year of construction, architect, and former residents of the home.

Please sign this petition to let your voice be heard that you are against the demolition of 1441 Carmen. Time has nearly run out on this historic house — it’s important that we do all we can to save it for future generations in the neighborhood. This petition will be presented to the Winona Foster Carmen Winnemac (WFCW) Block Club, said to be of the oldest block clubs in the city of Chicago, and handed to 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar’s office.

Additional Reading
Save 1441 Carmen from Demolition, Change.org petition

Column: Awful! Sad! No More! Stop demolishing Chicago’s beautiful old homes, Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)

Neighbors Sign Petition To Save Victorian Home From Demolition, Amber Fisher, Patch Chicago, 7/12/18

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