At the July 9, 2020, Commission on Chicago Landmarks Meeting, the restoration of the Grand Army of the Republic Hall Rooms at the Chicago Cultural Center was approved. The extensive restoration was presented by Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s cultural historian within the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. The extensive restoration includes revealing the original rich Tiffany colors from the plaster ornament by removing the white overpaint applied in the 1970s. The restoration also includes replacement of original light fixtures, and the restoration of the adjacent GAR Healy & Millet art glass dome and wall finishes. This is an outstanding and very exciting restoration project.
Preservation Chicago advocated with urgency to help bring about this preservation win and is thrilled with this outcome.
“A noted Arts and Crafts brick mansion in Edgewater and longtime home of late voice actor and jazz poet Ken Nordine sold May 28 for $1.37 million to a North Side couple who intend to preserve it.
“Nordine owned the 7,308-square-foot mansion for more than 60 years, living there from the early 1950s until his death in 2019 at age 98. Notable architectural firm Pond and Pond designed the home, and it was built in 1903 for Herbert Perkins, who later became the president of International Harvester.
“After Nordine’s death, his estate submitted a demolition permit to the city for the house that would have allowed it not only to be torn down but also to be replaced by a larger and likely multifamily structure.
“The new owners told Elite Street they plan to live in the home and ‘intend to preserve the residence and honor its architectural and cultural heritage’ and ‘have no intention of demolishing the building.’
“The new owners also lauded the work of Pond and Pond, and tipped their caps to those who sought the home’s landmark status, which predated their purchase.
“The building was saved by the tremendous efforts of the Edgewater Historical Society and other local concerned residents, and we applaud their work,” said the new owners, who asked to remain unidentified to protect their privacy.” (Goldsborough, 7/31/20)
Preservation Chicago played a crucial role in this preservation win. In November 2019, Preservation Chicago identify a qualified purchaser of substantial means who was ready, willing, and able to purchase the home for use as a single-family residence. After an intensive six-month preservation advocacy effort, this purchaser closed on the historic property in May 2020.
Despite the preservation-oriented offer and the outpouring of concern from neighbors and preservation organizations, the Nordine estate made known their intent on December 23, 2019 when a demolition permit application for the building was submitted. Because of the orange-rated status of the home on the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, the application for a demolition permit triggered the start of a 90-day demolition delay which would have expired on March 12, 2020.
Fortunately, the dedicated advocacy of the Edgewater community, the Edgewater Historical Society, Preservation Chicago, Landmarks Illinois, along with the support of 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, the City of Chicago Commission on Chicago Landmarks, Landmarks Staff, and Commissioner of Department of Planning and Development Maurice D. Cox created the circumstances to allow the Preliminary Landmark designation which was approved on March 5, 2020. This designation protected the historic building against demolition and encouraged the preservation-oriented sale.
As Edgewater Neighbors Fight To Save Late Jazz Poet Ken Nordine’s Mansion, Estate Moves To Demolish It; Neighbors are hoping to save the stately mansion that is the last single-family home on its Edgewater block, Joe Ward, Block Club Chicago, 1/21/20
Edgewater Mansion, Home To Late ‘Word Jazz’ Poet Ken Nordine, At Heart Of Preservation Fight; Preservationists are working to save the mansion that is listed for sale as a redevelopment opportunity, Joe Ward, Block Club Chicago, 11/18/19