LOSS: Problematic New Precedent After Wells Street Horse Stable’s Landmark Status is Removed to Allow New Construction

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“Neighbors say the Old Town Triangle’s historical integrity is under threat by an “unprecedented” decision to remove a former stable’s landmark status, allowing a developer to build onto it with two modern floors.

“Developer Howard Weiner plans to partially demolish the one-story building, which later became a garage at 1810 N. Wells St., to build a modern three-story addition to the property.

“But the building, which was built in 1883 as a horse stable, was designated “contributing” to the neighborhood’s Historic Landmark District status in 1984, meaning it has maintained features from the post-Great Chicago Fire period and is protected from demolition or additions like the one in Weiner’s proposal.

“However, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks’ Permit Review Committee voted unanimously on Thursday that the former stable’s historic designation was incorrect because the building had been severely altered since the landmark’s intended era.

“Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) was outraged by the decision and called it ‘an affront to everything that the Old Town Triangle Landmark District has stood for in the last 43 years. The people who fought the demolition of the Old Town Triangle in the ‘70s during urban renewal didn’t fight for ‘landmarking lite.’

“Old Town became one of Chicago’s first designated historic districts in 1977 in an effort by community activists to preserve the neighborhood’s smaller scale and character. In the ‘80s, neighbors and architects — including Walter Netsch and Kevin Sarring — catalogued every building within the district and classified them as ‘significant,’ ‘contributing’ or ‘non-contributing’ to the landmark status. These buildings were nationally registered.

“According to Smith, who pleaded for the committee to delay its vote, this is the first time in Old Town’s history that a property’s landmark status has been undone. She called it an ‘existential threat to Old Town’s character. We will have to put in a lot of work to keep this threat from happening more. I’m sure there are other buildings in Old Town about which the same could be said, and we’re sure developers will be snooping around the neighborhood looking for them.'” (Wittich, 10/2/20)

Preservation Chicago continues to encourage the adoption the Mid-20th-Century New-Construction Architecture and Rehabilitation in the Old Town Triangle Historic District: a Historic Context Statement, better known as the Midcentury Modern Context Statement, which was written by Terry Tatum, formerly with City’s DPD-Historic Preservation Division. This report should be introduced and accepted by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks as soon as possible to create clarity and avoid future issues. This report would protect the Edgar Miller and Sol Kogan buildings—including the Glassner House, in addition to buildings by Bruce Graham, Walter Netsch, Stanley Tigerman and others constructed outside the “period of significance of 1871 to 1929,” for the Old Town Triangle District. With the acceptance of the document, protections should be formally extended to all buildings noted within the report.

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

Neighbors Fuming After Historic Old Town Stable Loses Landmark Status, Will Become Modern Condos, The building was built in 1883 as a horse stable and designated “contributing” to the neighborhood’s Historic Landmark District status in 1984. It lost its status Thursday, Jake Wittich, Block Club Chicago, 10/2/20

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