Edgeville Buzz

It’s A “Gold Standard” Win For Preservationists After Historic Edgewater Mansion Is Saved

At the turn of the 19th century, Chicago’s elite started to move north of the city into marshy wetlands that is now called Edgewater. Stately mansions started popping up on Sheridan, Kenmore, and Winthrop offering its well-to-do residents a peaceful lakeside retreat.

Through the course of a century, many of the mansions fell into disrepair which made them vulnerable to demolition and large, multi-family developments. For the few properties that have remained, it has been a struggle to save them from the wrecking ball.

One such mansion became the epicenter of a new fight, one that area area preservationists needed to win. That house stands on a prominent northwest corner at 6106 N. Kenmore. Designed in 1902 by the nationally recognized Chicago architects Pond & Pond, the home was originally built for International Harvester President Herbert Perkins and his family.

In the 1960, the legendary Ken Nordine purchased the property and it became home to his business Snail Studios. The studio became a creative mecca over the next 60 years attracting the likes of Jerry Garcia, Tom Waits, and David Bowie.

After Nordine’s death last year, the home became a prime candidate for demolition and development. With that in mind, the Edgewater Historical Society (EHS) teamed up with Landmarks Illinois and Preservation Chicago to help secure a buyer that was willing to preserve the structure. But to their dismay, the family accepted an offer from a developer who in fact was trying to secure a demolition permit.

Landmarks Illinois and Preservation Chicago worked to obtain a temporary landmark designation for the mansion and was awarded the distinction back in March of this year by the Department of Planning and Development. The action stopped development plans and the mansion’s owner was forced to sell to someone who would be willing to preserve the home.

It did not take long for a buyer to be found. According to recently released property transactions, the mansion was sold by the Nordine Estate on May 28 for $1.38 million to a philanthropist couple who are interested in the property’s cultural significance.

“We are obviously pleased,” Said EHS’s LeRoy Blommaert. “I knew once the Landmark Illinois’ staff started writing up the landmark recommendation, I knew what was going to happen. This is the gold standard. It is the best possible outcome.”

The new owners, who have wished to remain anonymous, recently praised the architects Pond & Pond and the efforts by the Edgewater Historical Society in saving the building. They also made it clear that demolition is not an option and their goal is to preserve the 7,308 sq. ft. property.

It was a big win for the Edgewater Historical Society who recently lost their battle to save the Woodruff Arcade building two years ago. Built in 1923 by architect Herbert H. Green, the building was considered one of the last of its kind in the nation. Its interior space has a two-story courtyard with a grand glass skylight that runs the length of the structure and a walkway on the second floor with a walkable balcony that gives views to the floor below. The design is considered the predecessor to the modern mall.

“I thought the Woodruff arcade was a slam dunk as far as meeting the criteria. It was unique and the only one left,” Blommaert added. “I put a lot of time and effort into it and was disappointed it didn’t get much official support. But the Nordine House and Trumbull School where two big wins recently. The community really supported both.”


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