WIN: Decorative Terra Cotta Façade Saved With Hopes of Future Installation

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Distinctive celadon-green terra cotta façade from the Art Deco/Art Moderne orange-rated Szykowny Funeral Home at 4901 S. Archer Avenue in storage. Photo credit: Ward Miller / Preservation Chicago

Distinctive celadon-green terra cotta façade ornament from the Art Deco/Art Moderne orange-rated Szykowny Funeral Home at 4901 S. Archer Avenue. Photo credit: Ward Miller / Preservation Chicago

In 2016, the distinctive celadon-green terra cotta façade was removed from the Art Deco/Art Moderne façade of the orange-rated Szykowny Funeral Home located at 4901 S. Archer Building as part of a building modernization. At that time, Preservation Chicago had advocated for its preservation, but the construction permit was released and it was assumed that the celadon-green terra cotta façade had been destroyed.

Then in fall 2020, the owners of the Szykowny Funeral Home, Jonathan Siedlecki and his wife Nancy, contacted Preservation Chicago and, to our surprise, revealed that they had carefully disassembled the entire historic celadon-green terra cotta façade. After years of storage, they were hoping to find a new permanent home for the decorative terra cotta.

Preservation Chicago outreached to a wide-range of organizations, developers and other possible users seeking a permanent location for the one-story terra cotta façade. Comprised of over two dozens pallets with hundreds of terra cotta block, it was a challenge to find a new home for the terra cotta façade.

We were thrilled when John Edel expressed enthusiasm for the material and offered to store the façade. He is owner of “The Plant” and “Bubbly Dynamics,” a South Side innovation center, located just a few miles from the original funeral home location of the terra cotta material. Additionally, there are possible reuse ideas for the façade as part of future educational additions to the innovation center.

Preservation Chicago applauds everyone involved in this effort and we look forward to future when this unique part of Chicago’s historic Archer Avenue fabric is reassembled for future generations of Chicagoans to enjoy.

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