The Clarendon Park Community Center will either begin an extensive renovation or will be demolished and replaced. The building hangs in the balance and a strong voice from the Clarendon Park community is essential to help decision makers to make a preservation-oriented decision.
As recently as 2015, demolition was widely considered to be the most likely outcome for the historic Clarendon Park Community Center building and it was included as a 2015 Preservation Chicago 7 Most Endangered Building. It was widely celebrated in 2017 when $6.1 million in TIF funds were earmarked for the long-neglected Clarendon Park Community Center building with the expectation that the building would finally be renovated. Now there is concern that the Chicago Park District will choose to use these funds for a smaller, new construction building instead of restoring the historic building.
The Clarendon Park building was designed by city architect C.W. Kallal in a Mediterranean Revival Style. This “Italian Resort Style” became the model for such other well-regarded lakefront Landmark buildings as Marshall and Fox’s South Shore Country Club in 1916 (now South Shore Cultural Center) and the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion in 1919. This style was defined by tall towers capped with hipped roofs clad in clay tiles, large entry colonnades, porticos, loggias and open-air promenades.
Preservation Chicago urges the Chicago Park District to recognize the value of this important historic building and to commit to seeing it restored. Preservation Chicago applauds 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman for his commitment to seeing the Clarendon Park Community Center protected from demolition and for helping to solidify the necessary renovation funds. The Clarendon Park neighbors and community stakeholders continue to play an important role and deserve special recognition for their unwavering support for this building with special thanks to Katharine Boyda, Melanie Eckner, the Clarendon Park Advisory Council, Uptown United and Uptown Chicago Commission.
Preservation Chicago hopes to see this important building’s exterior restored to an appearance more similar to its original design. The distinctive tall towers fronting Clarendon Avenue and the smaller towers fronting the beach, along with the entry colonnade and the verandas and open-air loggias were beautiful and distinctive architecture elements that should never have been removed. Their reconstruction would elevate the Clarendon Park Community Center to its rightful place alongside the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion and other important Landmark lakefront buildings from this period.
New Building Or Full Remodel Possible For Overhaul Of Uptown’s Historic Clarendon Community Center; The park district unveiled four design options including both remodels and brand new buildings, Jonathan Ballew, Block Club Chicago, 2/5/19