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Gold Coast’s final surviving post-fire worker cottage to be demolished

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The small home was a symbol of Chicago’s ability to rebuild, but it is now history

It’s an all too familiar scenario—a historic small brick cottage in the Gold Coast is slated for demolition. However, this particular home is one that dates back to the days following the Great Chicago Fire. The one and a half story worker cottage at 1241 N. State Parkway was built in 1872 and is not only one of the oldest remaining buildings in the Gold Coast neighborhood, but it is one of oldest homes in the so-called “burnt district”—an area that covered much of the city’s downtown.

According to Gabriel X. Michael of Chicago Patterns, the house is the only remaining post-fire worker’s cottage in the Gold Coast. The home, while small, is intrinsically a link to the days when Chicago was rushing to rebuild after the great fire that destroyed much of downtown. It’s a statement of how Chicago was able to survive from disaster and rebuild itself, and despite having survived 144 years, this home will soon be erased from the street scape.

The small 1,000-square-foot house was in trouble following its listing in the beginning of June. The historic worker cottage entered the market asking $1.495 million—a huge sum for such a small residence. It not only got its ask, but the sale closed just weeks later for $1.5 million. Considering the sale price, it was safe to assume that a large new-construction will soon take its place. And indeed, a three-story single family residence is what is planned for the site.

The permit to demolish the home was issued last Thursday, and the following day a green construction fencing went up around it signaling that the house was indeed to be demolished. The post-fire worker’s cottages are a critically endangered type of Chicago housing stock, and at this point they are now extinct in the Gold Coast.