Friday, April 27, 2007

For Sale: Lincoln Park's Last Little Worker's Cottage

No corner in Lincoln Park better exemplifies the changing built landscape of this neighborhood than Howe and Armitage.

That's where you'll find this little blue gem from 1886. It's dwarfed by the three-, four-, and five-lot palaces that have risen all around it. Now, it's a complete anomaly.

Sadly, it's probably also awaiting its slaughter.

It's been for sale at least since 2005 when I took these photos. (Although little about it has changed.) The asking price is $575K for 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a sizable yard and a finished basement.

The listing sheet reads, "Renovate. . . or tear down and build your own in the Lincoln School District." There will be no internal showings. You have to buy it "as is." There are renters living there now, but they are on a month-to-month lease, according to the listing.

One of the things that has probably saved it from the bulldozers so far is its small lot size. It's only 17 x 80 versus the standard 25 x 125. That makes it more difficult for developers to extract a profit from it.

I'm often in the middle on preservation issues. In general, I'm sympathetic to the notion that we should preserve aspects of our built history. I don't think we should rush to tear everything down. I'd prefer, in many instances, that we try to renovate buildings and find creative re-uses for them. I don't immediately assume newer is better. I think a diversity of structures is healthiest for a neighborhood.

However, I also think private citizens should have a solid amount of freedom with their properties. Because I'm in the market for a new-to-me home, I can see that newer can frequently be better or more affordable than older. I'm a big fan of modern design and architecture, and I recognize that envisioning and building "the new" is a necessary and important part of our culture.

Should this building be saved?
I don't really think it's the very last cottage in Lincoln Park. But, I don't know for sure. Is anybody counting?

I do think this little cottage is meaningful to our neighborhood. It adds to the visual diversity of our streetscapes. It maintains a dignified scale and offers authentic charm. It reminds us of our shared history.

It's almost 150 years old. It was built just 16 years after our neighborhood was incorporated into the city of Chicago. According to a guide the Chicago Commission on Landmarks publishes called Your House Has a History (download it here), it is a classic worker's cottage.
It would be a meaningful loss to see it go.

Unfortunately, we lack a cohesive enough community to stand up and say, "Hey, all you rich people buying lots and building mega-homes nearby, could you please throw this one in as a gift to your community? It's important to us. Alderman Daley, what about the loss of this home in our community? Is that okay with you?"

Maybe the rich people could donate it as a tax-write off to the Chicago History Museum who could use it as a study annex, sort of like the the Art Institute's Roger Brown Study Collection on Halsted. Or, maybe it could be a children's center or a garden and a small park. Perhaps a retail shop might like it and extend the Armitage shopping district a bit further east. Any of those choices might protect it for the community to enjoy for years to come.

But, honestly, there are plenty of historians who can speak more knowledgably about this building's importance, or lack thereof, rather than me.

My main point is that just thinking about this building's fate reveals a lot. The election already showed how little our community discusses our future. Demolishing this house might reveal how little we honor our past.

Here's a link to ColdwellBankerOnline.com where you'll need to register and type in 625 W. Armitage.Here's Zillow, but you need to register and type in the address: 625 W. Armitage.

Here's my favorite Lincoln Park realtor.

2013 Update on this home from folks at Kale Realty

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey the Zillow link goes to coldwell banker...

Jennifer said...

Oops. Thanks for pointing it out. Fixed it. Sort of.

Anonymous said...

Two beautiful brick workmen's cottages were
unlisted from the Chicago Historic Resources
Survey just as the Armitage Halsted Landmark
District was passed. They were called contributing but money talked and so they were drawn out
of the district eventhough, as you rightly point
our, they represented the near extinct example
of our original architecture. They stood side by
side on Halsted. One is an open food area for
Tillys (which owned the cottage and is now
going to leave the area-figures) The other
now sports the yet-to-open faux designed
"Blackies." You are right,the loss of this
is sad. But the fight for our identity on the
sidestreets is alive and well. Alderman Daley
promises a rear yard ordinance to help fight
the lot-line to lot-line monsters eating up
trees, light and ground. Multiple lots are the
latest abuse. No reason we can't have reasonable,
predictable development. That is what the
zoning code was designed for. Not examples
of 3-5 lot monsters dwarfing our classic and
highly desirable, not to mention, affordable homes. People have every right to say to
developers -Enough. People who live here
have property rights too.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the "rich people" and developers financed Vi's campaign. This cottage is toast.

Anonymous said...

That cottage was doomed by the lopsided condo
contraption built next door years ago. Bad design attracks bad design.Who wants to live next to that?

Many people voted for Vi. Developers had no
choice and feared Michele even more.
Vi won't protect them. The eonomy has
exposed the problems of overbuilding.

Craig Gernhardt said...

As much as I love these little gems of the city, I have to agree. Small lot size or not, when this little house gets sold, it's demolition ball time.

Anonymous said...

The crime is 2 and 3 story teardowns.
Brick homes with full lots and beautiful
trees are destroyed. What goes up is way
overpriced and so poorly planned that they
become revolving doors for short time owners.
Houses on Dayton, Burling and Fremont built
within the last 3 years are being rented!!! For buyers thinking only of an investment its a rude awakening. When they want to sell they find they
can't get their money out.
Newer is not always better.
The trend is smaller, more responsible homes,
but not in Lincoln Park.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 10:47 Who did you vote for?

Wayne said...

Shame about this. Maybe if there were more affordable small homes in places like Lincoln Park the city wouldn't be suffering with ring rot.

Anonymous said...

Hi. It's 10:47 here. I voted for Vi. She was the
only responsible choice. What's "ring rot?"

Alan Woodard said...

My wife and I lived in this house from 1993 until 1998. There was a great article about it in the Sun Times around 1997.

It is solid as a rock, and very livable for a small house. We loved it. We almost sold it to a developer who wanted to tear it down. We couldn't bear the thought of that, and sold it instead to a young couple.

I built the white picket fence. Before that it was chain link.

We live in Florida now, but flew in today to visit old friends here, and drove by this house today, saw it was for sale, and are hoping it finds an owner to love it like we did.

Kely said...
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Anonymous said...

Well, i have to say i LOVE this house.. My father purchased this home in the summer of 2008 and i have been living there the past 5 months.. i truely have to say i love the old charm of this coozy house. or as my friends call it " the marry poppins house." I think what i love most about this house is the simplicity of it yet it has this unique charecter that just seems to pour out of it! all, in all i love the quaintness of this home and am truely happy the previous owners didnt sell this to some ego tistical developer.. (ha)

Grey

Jennifer said...

Wow. Hooray! That's great news. Happy housewarming!

دردشة ومنتديات عراقنا said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.