“It’s an old, common cry in a city where demolition and development are often spoken in the same breath, and where trying to save historic homes from the wrecking ball can feel as futile as trying to stop the snow. My Twitter feed teems with beautiful houses doomed to vanish in the time it takes to say ‘bulldozed’. Bungalows, two-flats, three-flats, greystones, workers’ cottages. The photos, posted by people who lament the death of Chicago’s tangible past, flit through my social media feed like a parade of the condemned en route to the guillotine”, mused Mary Schmich in her Chicago Tribune column on July 12, 2018
Despite strong neighborhood opposition, the historic Queen Anne home at 1441 W. Carmen Avenue has been demolished. But it wasn’t without a fight. In the face of overwhelming odds, Leyla Royale took action when she learned about the pending demolition of a beautiful 1890s, three-story, orange-brick Victorian Queen Anne, with a high-pointed gable, bay window, front porch with slender columns. “The yard is lush, shady and, most important for a developer, really big.” (Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)
“[I] loved walking by the house, thinking about all the people who had passed through it, all the history it contained. Tearing it down seemed crazy. It really upset me.” said Royale. So she started an online petition to Save 1441 Carmen Avenue. (Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)
Apparently, she was not alone, as within a day or so of her starting the petition, and with the support of Preservation Chicago’s Rapid Response advocacy, the petition received over 1,200 signatures! The number of signatures grew to over 2,300. Royale and the Winona Foster Carmen Winnemac Block Club presented the petition to 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar.
“I think a lot of people in neighborhoods are tired of buildings like this being torn down for cookie-cutter condos and cookie-cutter million-dollar single-family homes,” Royale said.
“Now we’re really in a crisis where we’re seeing fine quality buildings being demolished across the city’s neighborhoods,” said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. “The massive new construction changes the light, the air, the mood of neighborhoods; steal our visible connection to the past. Stopping the trend may be impossible, but it could be slowed.” (Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)
“Martin Tangora, a longtime Chicago preservationist, suggests extending the demolition holds on orange-rated buildings from 90 days to 180. Strengthen the public notice process to make sure neighbors hear of the notice. Expand the number of buildings covered by the demolition delays.” (Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)
Column: Awful! Sad! No More! Stop demolishing Chicago’s beautiful old homes, Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune, 6/12/18)