Edgeville Buzz

Historic Ken Nordine House Slated For Demolition Unless The City Steps In

Photo: Thom Greene

Things are heating up in regards to the Ken Nordine house after Alderman Harry Osterman announced that lawyers representing the owners of the property have filed for a demolition permit. At this time it will be up to the Landmarks Division of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to deny the permit in order to stop the wrecking ball.

The house stands on the northwest corner of Kenmore and Glenlake and was owned by one of the most celebrated voices in both radio and television, Grammy Award nominated Ken Nordine. He purchased the mansion in the 1960s and it became home to his legendary recording studio Snail Studios.

Through the decades a wide range of celebrities secretly recorded at the home including the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and the masterful Tom Waits. Sadly, Nordine passed away in February of 2019 and the estate was left to his sons who quickly started to look for a buyer.

Potential buyers surfaced including one that Landmarks Illinois had brought to the table who was willing to landmark the property in order to preserve it. For an unknown reason, the Nordine Family opted to go with another buyer who wanted to tear down the house and likely build a multi-unit structure up to 45 feet in height that meets the parameters of the RM-5 zone it sits on.

Then on December 23, 2019 the owners filed for a demolition permit as expected. Because the property is “Orange Rated” by the city however,  an automatic 90-day hold will delay the application approval pending a review by DPD Landmarks Division. Structures which have this rating are considered to possess some architectural feature or historical association that makes it potentially significant in the context of the surrounding community.

“This house, known locally as the “Nordine House”, is viewed as an historic building in our community as it was the long-time home of renowned vocalist Ken Nordine,” Alderman Osterman said in an email. “The Edgewater Historical Society and others have voiced concern about demolishing the building. I strongly support the preservation of historically significant buildings.”

It is now in the hands of the DPD Landmarks Division. If the demolition permit for any reason is denied, the process is then presented to the Landmarks Commission for review. If approved by them, it is then finally handed over to the City Council of which Ald. Osterman has stated he is in favor of preservation.

The Alderman added that he will keep the community aware of any future developments on the matter.

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