After decades of preservation advocacy, the Julia C. Lathrop Homes celebrated its grand reopening in September 2018. The Chicago Housing Authority and the development team of Related Midwest, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation and Heartland Housing held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the public housing project’s transformation into a mixed-income community. The final redevelopment plan includes both historic preservation and new construction, but with a significantly higher percentage of preservation than initially proposed. The original proposed percentage of historic preservation was a tiny fraction of the historic structures, but the final percentage of historic preservation is approximately 75% with hopes for more preservation on the still-to-be-renovated section south of Diversey Avenue.
Lathrop Homes has twice been a Preservation Chicago 7 Most Endangered, first in 2007 and again in 2013. The Lathrop Homes were one of the first and one of the best public housing developments built in Chicago, resulting in a remarkably stable racially-mixed community for generations. Completed in 1938, the 35-acre park-like site is located along the Chicago River, with its graceful combination of mature landscaping and low-rise and gently ornamented buildings, create an intimate and human-scale atmosphere.
This highly preservation-sensitive outcome is due to a multi-year preservation advocacy campaign by Preservation Chicago, our preservation partners including Landmarks Illinois, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and neighborhood groups such as Logan Square Preservation, Lathrop Homes Advisory Council and Logan Square Neighborhood Association. We applaud the development team for recognizing the history of Lathrop and reshaping their development plans to celebrate and restore much of the site’s architectural assets.