WBEZ | historic preservation http://www.wbez.org/tags/historic-preservation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Saving greystones with blood, sweat -- and branding http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/saving-greystones-blood-sweat-and-branding-105992 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F82411229&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/abandoned%20greystones%20flickr%20eric%20alix%20rodgers.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Vacant and neglected greystones in Chicago’s Oakland neighborhood. (Flickr/Eric Alix Rodgers)" /></div><p>Greystones are to Chicago what brownstones are to Brooklyn. And while many of these stately, limestone-faceted beauties line the grassy boulevards of wealthy North Side neighborhoods, many others exist in a state of neglect, disrepair or abandonment.</p><p>These decrepit greystones are generally located in some South and West Side neighborhoods whose residents were historically deprived of mortgages and subject to redlining. They&#39;re struggling now with low rates of home ownership and high rates of vacancy that have only gotten worse thanks to the real estate collapse. Add to that the stigma that comes from poverty, and you have a recipe for neighborhood neglect.</p><p>The last few years have thus been quite troubling for preservationists and community developers who want to both help struggling neighborhoods and save an iconic part of Chicago&rsquo;s native architecture. One affordable housing developer phrased the essential question this way: &ldquo;How do we start potentially building a market to rebuild interest in greystones and get people into these vacant buildings?&rdquo;</p><p>That developer is Matt Cole, who runs Neighborhood Housing Service&rsquo;s Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative. The program is aimed at preserving, restoring and modernizing these buildings, and NHS offers both educational and financial resources to owners and potential buyers, whether it&rsquo;s advice on how to remodel or affordable loans that make it possible to do a full gut rehab on a neglected two-flat.</p><p>But in addition to these traditional sorts of community development strategies, Cole and his colleagues have turned to a tactic more common in commercial real estate development: neighborhood branding. &nbsp;</p><p>Anyone who&rsquo;s ever been offered an apartment in &ldquo;West Bucktown&rdquo; knows that developers will often rename a gentrifying neighborhood in order to lure a wealthier set of potential buyers. But in this case, Cole and his colleagues focused their efforts on giving stigmatized neighborhoods the kind of narrative that would make existing, long-time residents puff up their chests.</p><p>Their test case was K-Town, a 16-block portion of North Lawndale named for a number of streets &ndash; Karlov, Kildare, Keeler, Kostner, etc. &ndash; that start with the letter &quot;K.&quot;</p><p>K-Town is traditionally lumped in with the rest of Chicago&rsquo;s West Side &ndash; so often described as poor, downtrodden and crime-ridden.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/K-town%20greysones%20google%20maps.jpg" style="height: 345px; width: 620px;" title="Rows of renovated greystones line the street in K-Town. The neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. (Google Maps)" /></p><p>But this portion of North Lawndale defies that stereotype: It&#39;s actually quite stable, according to Cole, and has a striking share of Chicago&rsquo;s built history. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It is this incredible microcosm of Chicago architecture that really can&rsquo;t be found anywhere else in the city,&rdquo; Cole said. &ldquo;You have fantastic greystones on one side, then workers&rsquo; cottages in the middle. Then also these sort of Dutch gabled buildings on the front &ndash; these two-flats and three-flats that were built in the 1930s &ndash; then bungalows start coming in.&rdquo;</p><p>Two years ago NHS worked with a number of state and local preservation agencies to get K-Town added to the National Register of Historic Places.</p><p>Charles Leeks, NHS&rsquo;s neighborhood director for North Lawndale, says there have not been measurable financial results &ndash; in the form of rising property value or additional homes sold or rehabbed &ndash; since K-Town was added to the National Register. But he said he&#39;s seen a noticeable uptick in neighborhood pride and cohesion.</p><p>&ldquo;The real tangible benefits from [the National Register] have to do with this question of image &ndash; how people began to think about the place and manage it themselves,&rdquo; Leeks said. &ldquo;Once there was this historic district designation, once it was clear, people celebrated that and rallied around that.&rdquo;</p><p>K-Town residents formed what Leeks called a Historic District Committee, which has taken a highly active role in promoting the neighborhood. In addition to developing a strategic plan for K-Town&rsquo;s revitalization, they&rsquo;ve organized neighborhood walking tours &ndash; an unusual feature for an area often cited for its blight.</p><p>They&rsquo;ve also started showing up in housing court. If a vacant building goes on a demolition list, the committee may ask the judge to stay demolition so they can preserve it and work toward finding a buyer.</p><p>Leeks said NHS hasn&rsquo;t brought on any new K-Town buyers in the two years since the neighborhood was added to the National Register (although the organization is currently under contract with two buildings on nearby Douglas Boulevard). &nbsp;</p><p>Instead, the Historic District Committee is turning to what it only half-jokingly calls the &ldquo;K-Town alumni association&rdquo; &ndash; anyone with roots in the neighborhood. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re reaching out to try and get former friends and neighbors to look back &ndash; and move back,&rdquo; Leeks said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not always easy to get people to see their own neighborhood in a different light, especially if they&rsquo;ve been there &ndash; or been away &ndash; for decades. But Matt Cole said NHS has already helped more than 200 greystone owners buy, keep or repair their buildings since the program was launched in 2006&nbsp;&ndash; an investment of more than $6 million. And they&rsquo;re still hoping to use historic narratives to rebrand neighborhoods and encourage reinvestment. That&rsquo;s why they&#39;re taking a similar approach to another stretch of North Lawndale, the 3300 block of West Flournoy Street. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;People are watching this &ndash; people in other parts of the neighborhood,&rdquo; Leeks said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve seen what&rsquo;s happening in K-Town and said, &lsquo;Can we do that?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>You can hear Matt Cole expound more on his group&rsquo;s neighborhood branding strategy in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</a></em>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Matt Cole spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in January. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/historic-preservation-design-and-cultural-programming-neighborhood-change">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 09 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/saving-greystones-blood-sweat-and-branding-105992 Park Ridge recognized for historic preservation http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/park-ridge-recognized-historic-preservation-99807 <p><p>The suburban Chicago city of Park Ridge has been officially recognized for its active role in preserving its history.</p><p>The city is the 75th local government in Illinois certified for historic preservation efforts. The designation comes from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the National Park Service.</p><p>A local government must have a historic preservation ordinance to be certified. It also must establish a preservation review commission, establish a local survey program to identify historic resources and get the public involved.</p><p>The Park Ridge Historic Preservation Commission has recognized seven local landmarks, including the Pickwick Theater Building. The commission also created an honor roll for 100-year-old homes in the community and started a photo inventory of significant historic structures.</p><p>The commission holds an annual poster contest for local children.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jun 2012 08:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/park-ridge-recognized-historic-preservation-99807 Highrises and bungalows could be destined for National Register listings http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-06/highrises-and-bungalows-could-be-destined-national-register-listings-99764 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled%20shoot-030_0.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Downtown&#39;s famed LaSalle Street canyon and 250 South Side bungalows could take a step closer this week to being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to a draft agenda by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.</p><p>The proposed West Loop/LaSalle Street Historic District would place 70 historic buildings on the National Register in an area bounded by Wacker Drive, Wells, Van Buren and Clark. The district would also contain some of the city&#39;s best late 19th and early 20th Century architecture, including the Rookery Building at 209 S. LaSalle; the City Hall/County Building and the Chicago Board of Trade, seen in the above photo, at Jackson and LaSalle.</p><p>The landmarks commission&#39;s program committee will consider the recommendation at its Thursday meeting. The measure would then go to the state&#39;s Historic Sites Advisory Committee for further approval. The panel is also slated to weigh a National Register district composed of bungalows in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.</p><p>The proposed Auburn Gresham Bungalow Historic District would be located in an area roughly bounded by 78th and 75th streets between Paulina and Winchester, featuring 250 intact bungalows built between 1918 and 1932. If approved, the district would be the city&#39;s 11th bungalow district to hit the National Register since Chicago began actively documenting and preserving the venerable one-and-a-half story home &ndash; which make up about a third of the city&#39;s housing stock &ndash; just over a decade ago.</p><p>South Shore, Rogers Park, Portage Park and Chatham are among the neighborhoods with a National Register bungalow district.</p><p>The National Register listings would recognize the importance of the downtown structures and the Auburn Gresham homes, but in both cases would also make possible state and federal historic tax credits to assist their rehab.</p></p> Mon, 04 Jun 2012 09:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-06/highrises-and-bungalows-could-be-destined-national-register-listings-99764 Former West Side hotel, modernist gem in Lake County among state's 'most endangered' buildings http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-04/former-west-side-hotel-modernist-gem-lake-county-among-states-most-endangered <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled%20shoot-124.jpg" title="The vacant Hotel Guyon on Chicago’s West Side is on Landmarks Illinois’ list of the state’s most endangered buildings. (WBEZ/Lee Bey)"></div><div class="image-insert-image ">A modernist Lake Bluff house and a hulking former West Side hotel from which WFMT once broadcast are among the state's ten most-endangered historic places, the preservation group Landmarks Illinois announced today.</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">“The sites named to the list are all exceptionally important,” the organization's interim executive director Jean Follett said in a news release.“By calling attention to them we hope to encourage solutions for their preservation.”</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The group released its list at 10 a.m. news conference in Springfield. The list includes the vacant Hotel Guyon at 4000 W. Washington, seen in the photo above. The former 300-room hotel has been vacant for a decade and is in demolition court, Landmarks Illinois said. The hotel was featured<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2012-02-26/can-architecture-save-west-garfield-park-96751"> in this blog</a> in February.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Landmark Illinois' list also includes the Edward Blair House, a stunning midcentury modern lakefront home for sale in Lake Bluff. Built in 1955 and designed by architects Keck &amp; Keck, the 7,550 square foot home sits on 27 acres and has a $9.9 million asking price. The house--unprotected by landmark laws-- is "vulnerable" to being torn down in favor of building a larger home the site, according to the organization.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Here's a listing agent's photo of the house:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/index.htm_.jpg" title="The Edward Blair House in Lake Bluff, Ill. also makes the endangered list. (Courtesy of the owner)"></div></div><p>The John Van Bergen-designed Fox River Country Day School also made the list. The Elgin institution with a naturalist, Prairie School-style 53-acre campus, closed last year and is for sale. The group fears the site could be demolished for redevelopment. Below is an image I took during a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2011-07-14/elgin-day-school-close-leaving-uncertain-future-campus-designed-frank-lloyd-">visit to the campus</a> last year:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P6285112.jpg" title="Fox River Country Day School in Elgin, Ill. (WBEZ/Lee Bey)"></div>Landmark Illinois' entire list and photos can be <a href="http://www.Landmarks.org">found here</a>. When you arrive, click on the "Press Room" link.</div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 24 Apr 2012 10:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-04/former-west-side-hotel-modernist-gem-lake-county-among-states-most-endangered