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Photographers Rush to Document Post-Fire Era Building Before Its Demolition

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Chicago photographers are sounding off the alarm regarding the imminent demolition of a historic Loop building. Built shortly after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the building at 209 West Lake Street is one of the oldest buildings in the Loop but will soon become history. According to photographer and blogger Gabriel X. Michael, the four-story building had been placed on the city's demolition delay list, but the period has expired and a demolition permit has been issued to the property owner. The building is a rare surviving relic of the city's effort to rebuild immediately after the Great Fire, and according to Michael, is currently one of only fifteen remaining post-fire buildings in the Loop area. As preservationists brace themselves for the building's demolition, Chicago building photographers have been visiting the property to get one last set of shots.

Photographer and Chicago Patterns contributor Gabriel X. Michael recently stopped by the building, but has indicated that he has been keeping a close eye on it for the last few months:

I've been checking on this building since its late August appearance on the city's delay list for demolition, but it's now imminent for this post-Fire merchants/commercial loft. The building was originally built for the Osborne & Adams Leather Company. Plans are to replace it and the parking garage to the west with a 33-story apartment tower. The building is identified for historic significance in the Historic Resources Survey, but the delay review period elapsed and a permit was issued to demolish. Plans for this site include a 33-story apartment tower. It is one of about 15 extant Loop buildings erected immediately following the Great Chicago Fire. But a third of those, including 209 West Lake, have not been protected by city landmark ordinance. It's estimated this building dates to 1872-1874, supported by the presence of tiered window hoods detailing an Italianate limestone facade.

Photog Brule Laker also swung by the building and added this note to one of his photos:

I arrived downtown relatively early to photograph 209 W. Lake St., for which a demolition permit was issued on Dec. 1. The 1882 building formerly housed the Wet Club and Studio 11, which took the top floor for recording studios for hip hop, gangsta rap and house music. The Lake Street L and the sun being behind the building (luckily hazy and still to the east) make photographing the soon-to-be demolished structure.

·Preservation Watch archives [Curbed Chicago]