Cobb Your Enthusiasm
By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 19, 2006 4:35PM
Once again, we building lovers are put on the defense. Landmarks Illinois has come out with its fifth annual Chicagoland Watchlist. There are twelve buildings on the list in danger of demolition, including the Chicago Daily Defender Building and the Lakeshore Athletic Club.
But the one that made our hearts sink is the Chicago Athletic Association. Losing any historic building is hard, but losing this one would be like cutting out Chicagoist’s heart, a little piece at a time. And what’s even worse, the story seems to be that the building could lose a third of its Michigan Avenue façade, and the entire annex by Schmidt, Garden & Martin would be replaced by a high-rise.
The Chicago Athletic Association was designed by Henry Ives Cobb in 1893. This was the year of the Columbian Exposition, the year of Beaux-Arts architecture, the year of the White City and anything that looked just like it. But ole Cobb was having none of that, and after being relegated to the back of the pack for the fair (even though he designed the popular non-Beaux-Arts Fisheries Building), he designed the Chicago Athletic Association in a Venetian Gothic style that stood out from the Beaux-Arts skyscrapers being built alongside it.
Henry Ives Cobb is one of Chicago’s most important historic architects, and his buildings in this city are numerous and beloved, including many buildings on the University of Chicago Campus, what is now Harry Caray’s Restaurant, Potter Palmer’s castle on LSD (no longer here, how we wish we could have seen it), and the Newberry Library.
To damage this building in any way would be most upsetting. Below is the information of what you can do to help according to Landmarks Illinois:
What Can I Do? Object to any proposed demolition of these properties which should be afforded protection under the city of Chicago landmarks ordinance. Contact Alderman Burton Natarus, 42nd Ward, 121 N. LaSalle St., Room 306, Chicago, IL 60602 / (312) 744-1728 (fax) and Brian Goeken, Deputy Commissioner, Landmarks Division, City of Chicago Dept. of Planning, 33 N. LaSalle St., Room 1600, Chicago, IL 60602 / (312) 744-9140 (fax).
Photo courtesy of Rachelle Bowden