In the all-or-nothing world of historic preservation, the set of structures to champion is constantly in flux. Many buildings are lost to neglect or progress, others are caught up in swirling debate for years, and some are saved from almost certain destruction. We thought it appropriate to document some of these cases in a heatmap format, so that as Chicago churns along so will the list of threatened properties. Starting out with 13 of the more talked about preservation targets, we're more than happy to update the map with reader contributions. Preservation Chicago's most endangered lists from the past couple years and Gapers Block's To Be Demolished profiles were a great asset in this compilation. Current events and our own blogging produced the rest. So, without further adieu, Curbed Chicago's inaugural Preservation Heatmap:Read More
Get Up! Get Moving! It's Curbed Chicago's Preservation Heatmap
1. Old Prentice Women's Hospital
Chicago, IL 60611
This story could fill a book, but the gist is this: Bertrand Goldberg's Old Prentice Hospital isn't getting the respect many feel it deserves from the city's decision makers or from profit-minded Northwestern. And thus, after a seesawing couple of years culminating in last month's peculiar landmarks commission ruling, the matter of its survival rests with the courts.
2. Children's Memorial Scattered Sites
The White Elephant building is just one six vulnerable structures radiating out from the six-corner intersection at the edge of the former Children's Memorial Hospital campus. The six-acre Lincoln Park site is a target of redevelopment by McCaffery Interests. Despite their resent approval setback they're likely to come back strong, and preservationists would like to ensure that the White Elephant, Boiler House & Laundry, the Nellie A. Black/James Deering building,Martha Wilson Memorial Pavilion, Kohl’s House, and the Annex Building are treated with respect.
3. St. Anthony Hospital
Chicago, IL 60623
St. Anthony Ministries has rendered a new medical campus for itself a mile south of its existing one alongside Douglas Park. According to Preservation Chicago, the historically significant hospital may face demolition or reuse. Its acreage might even be added to Douglas Park.
4. Congress Theater
Eddie Carranza's Congress Theater has seen better days. While not faced with any plausible demolition threat, it could really use some sprucing up-- at least for the benefit of passerby. The same applies for the several vacant storefronts built into the theater's long frontage. Under pressure from the city, Carranza has been cooking up schemes for their rebirth.
5. Portage Theater
The Portage Theater is one of several old movie houses in some degree of jeopardy. Congress Theater owner Eddie Carranza recently bought the 2,000-seat Portage and will likely carry on with concert and event programming, but not everyone trusts he'll do a great job.
6. Ramova Theater
Chicago, IL 60609
The Ramova is on Preservation Chicago's Most Endangered list, along with the Portage and others. As Curbed has written about before, the Bridgport theater's insides are battered almost beyond recognition. Thankfully, the facade is getting some love with a "Save the Ramova" campaign starting to pay dividends. It's gonna be hard to raise enough funds for full-on rehabilitation, so the movie palace remains on the watch list long-term.
The Pullman neighborhood is blanketed by city, state, and national historic districts. Of particular concern to preservationists are the blocks of buildings in the city's northern landmark district. The city's recent creation of tax credit programs for home rehab is a step in the right direction, but thanks to the economy many Pullman homes are still neglected and vulnerable to the elements.
8. Gethsemane Church
Chicago, IL 60607
This church is a rare pre-Fire specimen standing in the path of UIC dormitory plans. It has seen use as a German school, synagogue, church, and an arts center but has been vacant for several years. UIC's well-known plan is to buy the church, raze it, and construct a Catholic-centric dorm. Neighbors have resisted the idea based primarily on traffic concerns.
9. 5700 Block of South Woodlawn
Chicago, IL 60637
The 5700 block of Woodlawn Avenue is populated by bulky mansions and opulent homes dating to the World's Columbian Expositions. While few physical changes have occurred, Preservation Chicago sounds the alarm on account of U of C's purchasing frenzy and request for re-zoning to institutional. What will become of these private residences should they fall into the hands of an unchecked institution?
10. Cuneo Memorial Hospital
Chicago, IL 60613
Cuneo Memorial Hospital, directly opposite the Maryville Academy development site, is no longer in use, but preservationists would like to see it spared. Designed by modernist architect Edo J. Belli, the building has a stunning lobby, "operating rooms with patterned walls and floors of individually designed Romany-Spartan glazed tile", and "a roof line that resembles an artist’s palette." 'Nuff said.
11. Unity Hall
Chicago, IL 60616
Built in 1897 as a Jewish social club, Lakeside Club later became Unity Hall and a center for Chicago's Black political elites. After WWII, it became a church, and, since 1998, has been on Chicago's landmarks list. Now vacant, the real threat this brawny Queen Anne is demolition by neglect.
12. St. James Church
Chicago, IL 60616
One of the Chicago's oldest churches will likely meet the wrecking ball in a matter of months. The city would like to save it, and, according to Lee Bey, it's under automatic historic resource review. But there's an ordinance preventing the landmarking of houses of worship without the congregation's consent. So pay your respects to the 137-year-old Near South Side relic while you can.
13. Lake Street Interlocking Station
Chicago, IL 60606
This isn't that much of a landmark or anything, nor is it a crucial piece of infrastructure (not since yesteryear). But the wee railroad interlocking station at Lake St. and the River is a celebrated anachronism among "railfans". Unfortunately for them, the structure sits on the future site of the River Point office tower. But perhaps there can be some incentive to move the darling little guy rather than bulldoze him.