Edgeville Buzz

Trumbull School On Auction Block. Demolition a Possibility.


6a01156f99c3ac970c01156fa7dd8b970c-320wi-224x300Chicago Public Schools quietly began the process of auctioning off 5 shuttered Northside schools this month. Among those five schools is Lyman Trumbull, at Foster and Ashland.  A few months after the school closings back in 2012, the Advisory Committee for School Repurposing and Community Development was established to handle the repurposing of the buildings left vacant.

“For months, the Advisory Committee has been meeting to discuss how to create a strategy that empowers the community in finding new uses for vacant buildings and turns them into valued community assets,” said Wilbur Milhouse, Chair of the Advisory Committee.

The advisory think tank has already given thought to repurpose ideas including tutoring and mentoring programs, health clinics, arts centers, community centers, senior affordable housing and an urban farm. The committee also has not ruled out commercial development and mixed-use development.

Just to the west of the Andersonville strip, Trumbull sits on a high profile property that may be a retail developments dream.  It is rumored that corporate entities have been a part of the bidding process. It doesn’t take much to add up that Trumbull could be in trouble and possibly face the wrecking ball if a repurpose use cannot be found.

We spoke with Rev. Michael D. Fick, Pastor of the church next door to Trumbull, Ebenezer Lutheran and President of WANT (West Andersonville Neighbors United) and he stated, “WANT has taken a position that is supportive of the Edgewater historical society as they seek to preserve the buildings architectural elements” He added . “WANT would like to see the building preserved but we are realistic that CPS will be the ones bringing in the bid. We have Alderman O’Connor’s assurance we will be consulted on the progress and any zoning changes.”

Constructed in 1908, opening in 1909, Trumbull school was a direct result for the need of public educational building during a period of rapid population growth. In keeping with the theme of an era of progress, the Chicago Board of Education enlisted one of Chicago’s most respected visionary architects, Dwight H. Perkins. He was an icon of the Prairie School who was also the architect of Lane Technical College Prep High School, and Lincoln Park’s famous Lion House and Cafe Brauer.

The American Institute of Architects gave Trumbull “top billing” for the Edgewater/Rogers Park neighborhoods, “Shorn of traditional ornament and showing the influence of the progressive Prairie School movement, this massive block has the power and purity of form that distinguishes Perkin’s work as Chicago Board of Education architect.  Towering and percussive, the walls roll from pier to pier, punctuated with deep vertical window reveals.”

We pass by this gem of a building everyday with no real idea of its architectural significance, not appreciating that one day it could be erased from its perch. Though the building has been submitted for landmark status, it strangely enough never happened. But Wilbur Milhouse of the Advisory Committee for School Repurposing and Community Development says on the City’s website, ”Community members are our greatest stakeholders in this process, so we wanted to ensure their voices were heard throughout the process and were also eligible to submit proposals for re-use of buildings.”

Via phone conversation with Edgeville Buzz, Alderman O’Connor’s office stated that they will be briefed by the Board of Education before any action is taken and there will be a community input process.

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