Originally Posted by Dan in Chicago
If the rendering is accurate, it means they will also demolish the little 3-story house right next to Baumhart Hall. Originally the Frank Schofield House, it was built in 1934 and has a very quirky, almost modern design with a lot of interesting brickwork - similar to the Carl Street Studios in Old Town. I'll try to get photos soon so everyone can see what's being lost.
No, that house is safe from what I understand. I actually had a series of discussions with Honte about this before he died/disappeared. That building is extremely historically and architecturally important and I believe was one of the earliest "Modernist" buildings in Chicago. Honte also disclosed to me that he knew who the owner was and I correctly deduced from his hints exactly who it is. It is none other than one of the principals of one of the most avant-garde architecture firms in the city. I won't say who it is (though I'm sure some could find out if they snooped around), but there is no way in hell they will ever sell it to Loyola. This is also royally pissing Loyola off because they want to grab the alley in the middle of the block so they can connect all the buildings on the block together at ground level to use it for a huge block of classroom space, but this one little house is categorically preventing them from ever doing that. They are the only building on the block that requires access (for trash collection, not even for the garage, lol.
Anyhow, that building is "not for sale at any price" and will never be torn down thank god. From what I learned from Honte it is extremely important. Below is an excerpt from one of Honte's PM's to me (I know its not quite Kosher to copy and past from PM's, but this is information that should be more widely known):
Originally Posted by Honte
Of course, no one wants to stop Loyola from building a great new building, but with so much land (and so many buildings already torn down for this purpose), I think it's perfectly reasonable that at least one could be saved. Personally, I think it would be cooler to have a much taller building on their existing vacant sites (plus the hardware store), and all of the vintage buildings on Pearson saved. They could be turned into some kind of student retail experience (in conjunction with the street mall you mention), something like Maxwell Street for UIC, which would lend a pedestrian scale and quaint quality to their concept. But the only thing I am truly worried about for now is the Speyer house.
As I mentioned in the thread, the house was done in 1928 by Sol Kogan. If you don't know his work, please go check out the artist enclave in Old Town on Burton Street. It's one of my favorite places in the city, where artists and a few architects "took over" the block and transformed it by hand into something extraordinary. Kogan worked with the noted artist Edgar Miller over there, and he very well might have done the same on Pearson Street.
Most of the information I have on the building is coming from John Vinci's excellent monograph on Speyer, which was self-published and done basically because Vinci is a great person. I did, however, verify though my independent research that Kogan was the architect. I also learned that the building was a studio on the top floor, and stables on the bottom.
The area surrounding this building, as I am sure you know, was once called "Tower Town" (after the Water Tower) and was the city's principal arts enclave. While I don't know the history of this building completely, I would guess, given Kogan's participation and the progressive look of the building, that it has a direct link back to this part of the city's history. As such, it is probably the only reminder left in Chicago that Tower Town ever even existed.
A. James Speyer was Mies van der Rohe's first grad student. He literally followed Mies into Chicago and asked to work with him. He went on to become a great architect, of major importance to the 2nd Chicago School of architecture, as is very wonderfully explained in Vinci's book. His career as an architect was short-lived, however, because he was offered a job at the Art Institute, becoming their chief curator of Contemporary Art in 1961. He is responsible for obtaining a lot of the amazing pieces that will be housed in the new Piano wing. While he was an architect, he produced some of the earliest and most beautiful Miesian homes in Chicago, which to be precise only number 3. It's worth noting that all of these homes are, remarkably, still standing (considering that Highland Park has no landmarking ordinance, and nearly everything under 5000 sq ft seems destined for the dumpsite in that suburb). I have photographs and addresses if you ever want to learn more, or if you need them to show to anyone at Loyola.
Speyer bought the house on Pearson in 1965. His work is mostly found on the inside, but now that Loyola has demoed the buildings one block north, you can see some of the cool parts he added to the back of the building, as well as the partial 3rd floor he added. These small additions, ironically, are the only exterior architecture within Chicago city limits by one of its most important early Modernists.
The house is now owned by an important Chicago architect, whose name you surely know. For the sake of his privacy, I don't think it would be right to mention the name here. But there is a third-generation connection to the house's architectural legacy that only adds to its importance.
As far as a response to a lot of the bellyaching about "sterilizing" and "institutionalizing" the street goes, I simply disagree. I don't think Loyola has sterilized that area at all. In fact, they've amped the vibrancy of that area way up with the amount of foot traffic their concentrated mass of uses has generated and the active WLUW station on the corner. It would be completely stupid for them to try to locate this use several blocks away simply to take up a parking lot. Additionally, there is no way Holy Name would hand over that huge vacant lot at Chicago and State to Loyola. Many here may not be familiar with Catholic politics, but most of the church doesn't exactly love to cooperate with the Jesuits. That's why Loyola wasn't able to snag the seminary across from Lewis Tower; the arch diocese would rather waste money and let a perfectly good building go underutilized than let the Jesuits get it. That building should have gone to Loyola and would have made and excellent home for their business school, but the arch diocese are assholes and wouldn't let Loyola have it despite the fact that it was already set up to be used as classrooms. They instead converted it to offices.
Anyhow, Loyola now controls most of that block to the East of State and the YMCA and intends to continue to push West into those empty lots (hopefully preserving the low rises along State) with dorms and additional classroom facilities. However, the details of those plans are still very blurry as they haven't quite fleshed them out yet.
PS: the street mall Honte mentioned is something that I don't know if I've mentioned before of if it's public knowledge. There are long term plans to turn Pearson from Water Tower through Loyola Campus into a pedestrian mall. I think the Speyer House is fouling up these plans as well. Normally I would never support such a thing (obviously super blocks are horrible), but Pearson gets almost no real traffic and is mainly used by cars circling and looking for parking. It could work out pretty well if it's executed correctly, but I'm apprehensive about that idea as well.
PPS: If you look at the rendering you can see there is in fact a gap left in it for Speyer House. There is a brown blob placed where Speyer House is probably to distract from the fact that Loyola has again failed to drive out mid block owners. This is a touchy issue for the administration as it happened to them once previously when they were building Corboy Center and that little Italianate 3 flat between McGuire and Corboy refused to sell out them. They figured they'd eventually break him after they started construction and be able to buy it when they decide to re-build McGuire, but the owners have since fortified their position and I believe might have gone as far as to place the building in trust so that the school can never acquire it. That is a sour issue for the administration because it smacks of their utter incompetence in the late 1990's when 25 E Pearson was being planned and constructed.