Gone But Not Forgotten
By: Kathy Gemperle and Mark Palermo
The move to preserve the original homes in John Lewis Cochran’s original Edgewater development from 1885-1889 hit several snags this spring. The demolition of four homes and an additional demolition approved by the Board of Directors of the Edgewater Community Council and the 48th Ward Zoning and Planning Committee leaves the count of historic homes at 16. What these demolitions do is affect the value of the remaining homes for the history they display. While each remaining home has become more valuable, the collection of homes has been diminished as a whole.
The loss of these irreplaceable homes is part of the story of Edgewater history being written by the 48th Ward Zoning and Planning Committee, the Edgewater Community Council, Loyola University and the North Edgewater Beach Association. Each of these groups has had a role in the process that begins when the developer meets with the alderman to discuss his plans for a certain property.
On October 16, 2003, developer Tim Kierans demolished the George Washington Maher designed home at 6022 N. Kenmore without presenting a plan for the site. The Landmarks Commission for the City of Chicago reported that the front of the home was altered and therefore did not suit its criteria for landmark status. The home was unusual since it was built in 1897 and exhibited the early design interest by Maher in what grew to be known as the Prairie School of Architecture. It was a one of a kind home.
On April 27, 2004, Edgewater developer Jim Byrne demolished the Murphy and Camp designed home at 6117 N. Winthrop. The North Edgewater Beach Association, the Edgewater Community Council and the 48th Ward Zoning and Planning Committee wholeheartedly recommended its demolition. It was a 13 room mansion, the former home of former ECC President Barbara Stanley who sold it after living there since 1989. It too was a one of a kind home.
On May 12-13, 2004, Loyola University demolished two of the most valuable homes in Cochran’s Second Addition to Edgewater. This came as a surprise to the EHS, which had written a letter to Loyola’s President, Father Michael Garanzini, S.J. on January 26, 2004 urging him to preserve the properties, but, short of that, not to seek a demolition permit until plans had been developed and reviewed by community residents. President Garanzini responded with a letter dated February 12, 2004 stating that Loyola would work with neighbors and community groups regarding these properties before any redevelopment would occur. On Feb. 23rd EHS sent a request for a hold on the demolition of these homes to Marge Britton at the 48th Ward office. The application for demolition was on April 9th. The permit was issued on May 7th. Although the 48th Ward Alderman’s Office staff knew about the demolition permits, no community organization, nor the 48th Ward Zoning and Planning Committee had any input before these homes and a significant part of Edgewater history were destroyed.
The two homes that Loyola demolished were built by Edgewater architects. At 6332 North Kenmore was the home of Edmund Krause, built in 1904 as his family home. It was noticeable for its rectangular box format and had face brick on all sides with Indiana limestone detailing. 6338 North Kenmore was the former home of Emmanuel Rothschild who had lived in the home for more that 40 years. The home was designed by Myron Church and built in 1902 in a Tudor style, which became more popular during the 1920s. Mr. Church lived on the 5700 Block of Kenmore and built many homes in Edgewater. Now his only remaining home is the North Lakeside Cultural Center at 6219 North Sheridan. The EHS can only imagine the beautiful interiors of these homes since Loyola did not allow us to photograph them. However, the ECC received stained glass windows from the homes and is selling them on eBay.
Loyola has stated through its spokesperson Jennifer Clark, that “there are no plans for the site.” This seems to be a repeat of a method of operating that Loyola has used before. In the early 1990s Loyola acquired property at the northeast corner of Granville and Broadway. Most of the buildings were quickly demolished which destroyed the streetscape along these two thoroughfares while holding the property vacant for more than five years. Recently, Loyola sold that property to a developer who plans to demolish the two remaining buildings, one of which is a terra cotta clad building which was occupied by Alternatives. The new developer plans to build a ten story building on the site. Were the proceeds of that sale used to purchase the Kenmore properties?
President Garanzini and Loyola University officials used their ecclesiastical and institutional dominance to fast track these demolitions, once again demonstrating their ignorance of Edgewater history and historic preservation issues.
Clearly, Loyola and any developer with money have been given permission to destroy the architectural history of our community. Despite the signatures of hundreds of Edgewater residents to preserve single family homes along Kenmore and Winthrop, and EHS requests to Alderman Smith to place a temporary moratorium on demolitions on Kenmore and Winthrop, they continue.