1436 W. Berwyn Ave.
**This story has been updated with new information. Click Here.**
With many Andersonville residents worried about the future of the businesses along the Clark Street corridor, the concern is spilling out into the surrounding streets. Now, many community members are poised for a fight to save neighborhood homes from the wrecking ball.
Though many recent tear-downs in Andersonville were of wooden homes that were said to be be structurally unsound, the latest structure at 1436 W. Berwyn does not seem to be the same. Not only have there been no reports of significant structure issues, it is also a historic graystone house that showcases the architectural beauty of that time with elements of English Gothic and Romanesque style.
Kathy Klink-Flores who owns the home next door at 1430 W. Berwyn, is spearheading an effort to save the home from possible demolition. Both her home and the one next door slated for demolition, were respectively built in 1904 and 1908 by two local Swedish immigrant brothers, Christ and John Christiansen. The architect was George Pfeiffer.
“I am told by the Edgewater Historical Society that the two buildings are very unique buildings in Andersonville (and Edgewater for that matter) for several reasons,” said Klink-Flores. “There are not many 2 flat graystones that exist and on top of that these two buildings are the most decorative and beautiful graystones in Edgewater, stunning enough to stand out in most any Chicago neighborhood. The buildings are some of the oldest in Edgewater and were here for the first Cubs World Series in 1908!”
The building, which was recently sold at a bargain price of $875,000 sits on an extra large 50′ x 125′ lot, is a perfect candidate for a tear-down. The low purchase price mixed with the wide lot means a developer can come in, demolish the property, construct a condo building and make a nice profit. In addition, most of East Andersonville is zoned R4, which means larger multi-story buildings can be built on the site.
The developer who bought 1436 Berwyn, Aidan Development, is now planning to do just that according to Klink-Flores. As of now, no permits have been requested for demolition, but the developer has enlisted local architect Jack Stoneberg of Stoneberg & Gross Architects (3320 N. Ravenswood Ave.) to design a multi-unit condo building for the site.
“These buildings (1430 and 1436 Berwyn) were meant to be together. They are an integral part of the character of Andersonville,” added Klink-Flores. “They were built by Swedes and were some of the first buildings here. They have become part of the neighborhood experience and are part of who the people are. This is about a community trying to save its history for the next generations to experience. It is about us reaching into the future and ensuring those coming later can still touch the past.”
The property is not part of the Lakewood-Balmoral National Historic District or the Andersonville National Historic Business District, but sits on a narrow sliver of land in between the two. However, this does not ensure the preservation of any of these buildings as they are National Districts. If they were proclaimed Historic City Districts, tear-downs would be much more difficult.
According to Dan Luna, Alderman Harry Osterman’s Chief of Staff , the property is not color coded, so it does not meet the city’s landmark standards. He said, “I have no idea about the stability or structure of the house that’s there now. The Alderman would like to see the property saved/reused but also understands the rights of property owners. The owner’s plans do not require any zoning relief, so there’s no plans for any community meetings.”
But area residents seem to be gathering and ready for a fight. A recent flyer put out by the group opposing demolition recommends community members call 48th Ward Harry Alderman’s office at 773-784-5277 and/or email Alderman Harry Osterman at firstname.lastname@example.org and Dan Luna, Chief of Staff at email@example.com.
An online petition has also been started. To sign, click here.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be on an e-mail list regarding this issue.