“Misericordia is planning a major expansion of its West Ridge residential campus. To do so, the charitable group is seeking to tear down a nearly 100-year-old former tennis club built by notable architecture firm George W. Maher & Son. (The son was Philip Maher, the accomplished architect of several Chicago Landmarks including 1260 and 1301 N. Astor Street, the Farwell Building, the Woman’s Athletic Club of Chicago, and Illinois Automobile Club, also known as the Chicago Defender Building.)
“The former tennis club at 1925 W. Thome Ave. sits just south of Misericordia Home, the 31-acre campus where the charity houses 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities. Misericordia bought the tennis club building in 2018 for $7.5 million, and it plans to incorporate the site into the larger campus to provide more housing services.
“Those plans are not sitting well with some preservation groups and neighbors, who are seeking ways to save the building while allowing for Misericordia’s expansion.
“We support [Misericordia’s] great work,” said Mary Lu Seidel, director of community engagement for advocacy group Preservation Chicago. “We are of the opinion that this number of homes can be done on the site … without taking down the property itself.”
“Misericordia has already applied for a permit to demolish the former tennis club, officials said at a community meeting Wednesday. But because the city has rated the building “orange” — meaning it is “potentially” architecturally or historically significant — city officials have placed a 90-day delay on the issuing of the permit.
“Now, Misericordia is seeking a zoning change to allow for the community-style housing on the tennis club site. That zoning request was the subject of a community meeting Wednesday, where neighbors weighed in on the fate of the tennis club building.
“The building is considered the work of George W. Maher, a contemporary of heralded Chicago architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan. The tennis club building was constructed in a Tudor revival style, and was modeled off the Wimbledon tennis club in England.” (Ward, Block Club Chicago, 1/9/20)
We at Preservation Chicago would like to see the building landmarked and repurposed to serve Misericordia’s mission while honoring and reusing an architecturally significant building. We are requesting that Misericordia retract their demolition permit application and take the time to seriously consider this and other possible options for eh historic structure. Other options include 1) selling the historic building and constructing a higher density, less suburban style building on the parking lot, 2) doing a land swap with the Chicago Park District and the adjacent Emmerson Park, or 3) donating building to the Chicago Park District and moving it a few hundred feet into Emmerson Park.
Misericordia’s Expansion Plan In West Ridge Sets Off Preservation Fight; To help alleviate its long wait list, Misericordia wants to build 16 homes for people with developmental disabilities on the site of a historic former tennis club. Joe Ward, Block Club Chicago, 1/9/20