Highly Successful “House with the Keyhole Windows” Preservation Circle Event Explored Past, Present and Future of the Gold Coast and Dearborn Parkway
Cultural Historian Tim Samuelson captivated an intimate gathering of Preservation Chicago’s “Preservation Circle” Members on April 20, 2017, with history and colorful stories regarding the history of Chicago, the Gold Coast, Dearborn Parkway and the 1325 N. Dearborn Parkway building, better known as the “House with the Keyhole Windows”.
The developer of the building, Lucius B. Mantonya, was a creative entrepreneur during Chicago’s boom years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was a “PR man” before the phrase had been coined and frequently advertised his stores with unique sales pitches in the Chicago newspapers of his day. One of the early pioneers to follow Potter Palmer north of the river, Mantonya’s exotic three-flat on Dearborn Parkway designed by architect Curd H. Gottig and completed in 1887, is a rare example of Moorish Revival in Chicago and was designed to attract sophisticated and upscale residents. Among the more colorful tenants to have once called the “House with the Keyhole Windows” home were family members of the Ringling family of Ringling Brothers Circus fame.
Ward Miller discussed several of the existing Gold Coast Historic Landmark Districts and surprised many with fact that many of the glorious historic homes and buildings on State and Dearborn Parkways and adjacent streets have no landmark protection whatsoever. The commitment of neighbors and owners, and the ability to generate income from multi-unit buildings has helped to keep Dearborn Parkway largely intact and preserved, but with mounting development pressures, now is right time to take action regarding a formal Landmark District.
Preservation Chicago wishes to express a special thanks to Tim Samuelson, Mel and Janet Smith, Nancy Joyce, and Cathie Bond for making this wonderful event possible.
To find out more about the Preservation Circle and upcoming Preservation Circle events, please contact Ward Miller at 773-398-6432 or Cathie Bond at 773-334-8800.
Preservation Chicago is the only organization exclusively focused on Chicago’s grassroots historic preservation efforts. An advocacy nonprofit, Preservation Chicago is committed to strengthening the vibrancy of Chicago’s economy and quality of life through the successful protection, revitalization and adaptive reuse of Chicago’s unique, irreplaceable and historically significant architecture which define our neighborhoods and urban spaces. Through advocacy, outreach, education, and strategic partnerships, we seek to influence those decision makers in a position to affect preservation-sensitive change.
Its professional staff and board members serve from a place of passion, with great enthusiasm and dedication to the cause of defending Chicago against the forces of neglect, ignorance and architectural banality and a preserving Chicago’s world-class architectural heritage. Preservation Chicago is a unique organization, celebrated by friends and feared by foes, but universally described by all as “energetic,” “resourceful,” “tenacious” and “effective.”
Our Legacy to Protect and Defend
As the birthplace of the skyscraper and all of modern architecture, Chicago is universally regarded as one of the most significant architectural cities on the globe. This extraordinary legacy earns Chicago an honored place among the great world cities.
The Challenge to Historic Preservation
Those same forces of commerce and innovation that once combined in Chicago to thrust architecture into the modern age are now eroding our built legacy as the commerce persists but without the innovation.
Over 1,000 building demolitions occurred in Chicago in 2014. Many of these buildings date from Chicago’s Golden Age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including over 25 highly significant orange-rated and red-rated buildings. Many have been replaced by vacant lots or generic disposable highway exit architecture.
Chicago’s historic buildings have defined our urban fabric for generations and are irreplaceable once lost. With their passing, the opportunity for a struggling neighborhood to regain the vibrancy of its past and for a thriving neighborhood to maintain the very character that allowed it to thrive slips slowly but decisively further away. Through preservation, a community’s core can be protected and defining components of Chicago’s essence remain intact.
Preservation Chicago’s Strategic Response
Preservation Chicago’s immediate goals are to expand programing, outreach, and proactive policy-making capabilities in order to change the context of preservation in Chicago. Preservation Chicago has recently increased its staff, thereby allowing the organization to expand its capacity and productivity. Its staff are governed and supported by a dynamic board of directors, essential for Preservation Chicago to successfully address the many complex and varied preservation challenges. The long-term goal of Preservation Chicago is to increasingly shift from reactive to proactive advocacy. Outreach, education, and policy change will help Chicagoans better appreciate, recognize and value our rich architectural heritage and shift the conversation to one more conducive for preservation. Educating the next generation of Chicago decision-makers about preservation and its benefits is essential for the long-term vibrancy of our city.
Benefits of Supporting Preservation Chicago
Preservation Chicago’s ability to operate is due in large part to the generous support of its individual donors, corporations and foundations that believe in fighting for Chicago’s historically significant built environment. Supporting Preservation Chicago offers many benefits.
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