When a historic home or commercial building in Chicago is demolished to make way for a new development, it not only pains preservationists, but it also changes the identity of a particular block or neighborhood. The famous Carl Street Studios, a condo development original built as an independent mansion in the 1880s and renovated into artist studios in the late '20s by SAIC students and architects Sol Kogen and Edgar Miller is currently under threat according to preservationists. Zac Bleicher of the Edgar Miller Legacy organization has recently reached out to inform us that the building at 159 W. Burton Place has been recently purchased and a developer plans to demolish the structure and replace it with a new residential development. And according to Crain's, developer Castle Rock Properties purchased the property in April for $1.35 million and has already applied for a demolition permit for the building.
Bleicher says that this preservation battle is important because the Carl Street Studios are an iconic piece of Old Town history:
The small block of Burton Place is special for both its collection of gorgeously restored 19th century Victorians and its repurposed structures, rehabbed by a group of entrepreneurial artists and architects named Edgar Miller, Sol Kogen, Jesus Torres, and Andrew Rebori. When they arrived on the scene in the 1920s, the neighborhood was well into a decline and the artists saw an opportunity to develop a creative enclave the likes of which Chicago had never seen, and which is unique even to the whole nation. Out of this block emerged a burgeoning artistic community, eventually becoming the Old Town neighborhood of the 1960s—Chicago's version of Haight-Ashbury. Today, the block is acclaimed for its historic charm and uniquely Chicago style and it is frequented by thousands of tourists annually. I'm not being facetious when I say the block of Burton Place is a work of art. To casually rip out a piece of this block and replace it with a cookie-cutter condo is to me cultural vandalism, and I think Chicagoans from all neighborhoods can identify with this feeling, as a suburban developer sees our age-old communities merely as profit generators for their short-sighted "development" projects. Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago has also weighed in on the issue, indicating that his organization is seeking to designate the area an official historic district:
Preservation Chicago is interested in creating a historic district in Old Town to protect these buildings. We realize that this is a unique grouping of buildings on Burton Place that represents the Arts and Crafts, the Art Moderne and Art Deco movements. These are handcrafted homes produced by a series of architects coming together and we believe that the loss of these buildings would be harmful and tragic to the district. We would support any type of outreach to the developer to preserve these structures. Old Town residents and preservationists have created a petition to raise awareness and generate support for the now-endangered Carl Street Studios.
·Historic Edgar Miller Carl Street Studios Threatened [Prairie Mod]
·Neighbors oppose Old Town demolition [Crain's]
·Previous Carl Street Studios coverage [Curbed Chicago]