Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Two Big 46th Ward Preservation Wins Praised By "Preservation Chicago"

Preservation Chicago, an advocacy group fighting to save Chicago's irreplaceable architecture, just put out its April 2019 newsletter featuring two 46th Ward preservation "wins" namely the Clarendon Park Field House and the "Eagles Building" at Broadway and West Sheridan:

Clarendon Park Field House (Chicago History Museum)
After many years of preservation advocacy efforts for the Clarendon Park Fieldhouse and Community Center, the final decision for the renovation and restoration of this historic building was made by the Chicago Park District with support from 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman. Since the beginning of this process, the more likely outcome had been the demolition of the historic building and the construction of a much smaller field house.
The Clarendon Park Fieldhouse and Community Center plays a central role in providing many programs and services for the Uptown community and its youth, including after school programs, summer camps, basketball programs, and is home to Kuumba Lynx and the Garfield Clarendon Model Railroad Club. It serves as an invaluable safe haven for teenagers and young adults. It is essential that the building remains open for the community during a multi-phased renovation and reconstruction. The demolition of this building would have endangered or ended many of community services and programs that have been based in the Clarendon Park Fieldhouse and Community Center.

The Clarendon Park Community Center, originally called the Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach, was built in 1916 as a state-of-the-art facility. Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach was once one of “the largest and best equipped of all of the beaches in the city” and was considered one of the most popular civic achievements of its time. It could accommodate over 9,000 swimmers and included a promenade for thousands of spectators. The building remained popular until the 1930s when landfill moved the shoreline further east and created Clarendon Park. It was further separated from the Lake Michigan shoreline by extensions of Lake Shore Drive in the early 1950s.

The building was designed by city architect C.W. Kallal in a Mediterranean Revival Style. This “Italian Resort Style” became the model for such other highly regarded lakefront landmark buildings including Marshall and Fox’s South Shore Country Club of 1916 (now South Shore Cultural Center), the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion in 1919, the Edgewater Beach Hotel in 1916 and 1924 and demolished in 1967, and the Edgewater Beach Apartments in 1928. This style was defined by tall towers capped with hipped-roofs clad in clay tiles, large entry colonnades, porticos, loggias and open-air promenades.

Overtime but especially during a 1972 “modernization” effort, the distinctive tall towers fronting Clarendon Avenue and the smaller towers fronting the beach, along with the entry colonnade, verandas, open-air loggias and tile roof were demolished and replaced with a massive flat roof. The unsightly metal fascia greatly impacted both the aesthetics and functionality of the original historic structure. The significant modifications to the building resulted in extensive water infiltration and roof issues, which have proved an ongoing challenge.

Preservation Chicago hopes to see this important building’s exterior restored to an appearance more similar to its original design in a multi-year, multi-phased project. The distinctive tall towers fronting Clarendon Avenue and the smaller towers fronting the beach, along with the entry colonnade and the verandas and open-air rooftop loggias were beautiful and distinctive architecture elements that should never have been removed. Reconstruction of some of these features could elevate the Clarendon Park Community Center to its rightful place alongside the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion and other important landmark lakefront buildings from this period.

Preservation Chicago applauds Ald. James Cappleman for his commitment to seeing the Clarendon Park Community Center protected from demolition and for helping to solidify the necessary renovation funds. Preservation Chicago applauds the Chicago Park District for its flexibility, support and commitment to this important project. The Clarendon Park neighbors and community stakeholders played an essential role in this effort and deserve special recognition for their unwavering support for this wonderful outcome with a special thanks to Katharine Boyda, Melanie Eckner, Martin Tangora, Cindi Anderson, Stuart Berman, the Uptown Historical Society, the Clarendon Park Advisory Council, Uptown United and Uptown Chicago Commission.

“Eagles Building” at Broadway and Sheridan, Reinstallation During Construction, Isaac G. Ettleson Building, by architect Harry Hale Waterman, built 1911, 3845-3835 N. Broadway. Photo Credit: Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago
The distinctive terra cotta eagles that so clearly distinguished the orange-rated “Eagles Building” at Broadway and Sheridan have returned! The original building was demolished, but as part of the redevelopment agreement for the site the decorative terra cotta was carefully removed and has been re-installed as part of the new mixed-use development.

With its series of repeating terra cotta eagles, Preservation Chicago had initially opposed the demolition of the two-story Isaac G. Ettleson building at 3835-3845 N. Broadway from 1911 by architect Harry Hale Waterman. However, when it became clear that the demolition would proceed, efforts shifted towards reuse of the historic terra cotta onto the new building façade. A new structural system and structure would be built and the original historic terra cotta cladding reused.

Preservation Chicago applauds the developer David Gassman for embracing the responsibility of carefully handling the unique terra cotta ornament and following through on his commitment to salvage, reuse and reinstall it. The developer hired architecture salvage expert firm Central Building & Restoration to do the work, with supervision from restoration architect Paul Clausen. Most of the eagle terra cotta ornament and other decorative terra cotta ornament were successfully salvaged and reapplied to the new structure.

After the Medic Building debacle (Chicago 7 2013) where Novak Construction did not follow through on the verbal agreement with Preservation Chicago and the Alderman’s office to reuse façade components of the original Art Deco building in their new Whole Foods development at Ashland and Belmont, Preservation Chicago worked closely with 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman’s office, the City of Chicago Landmarks staff and developer David Gassman to formalize the reuse plan in a written agreement. Preservation Chicago remained in close contact with the development team throughout the deconstruction and reconstruction process to offer support, guidance and to ensure a good outcome.

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