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Preservation Chicago Announces "Chicago Seven" List

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 6, 2012 7:00PM

Preservation Chicago unveiled its annual list of the city's seven most threatened historic places Wednesday. The list is exclusively hospitals, movie houses and churches, but the represent parts of Chicago history they and others believe need to be preserved.

The list includes:

  • Unity Hall (3140 S. Indiana Ave.). Originally constructed as the Lakeside Club, a Jewish social club, the building later played an important role in Chicago’s black political and social history. Although it's been declared a local landmark, the building is now vacant and threatened with demolition.
  • Movie Theaters. Preservation Chicago has targeted the Ramova Theatre, Portage Theater, Avalon/New Regal Theater, Lawndale Theater and Central Park Theater. (pdf). We know about opposition to the Chicago Tabernacle's plan to buy the Portage and the ongoing efforts to save the Ramova. The other three theaters are located in neighborhoods affected by socioeconomic conditions that are keeping them from being used to their full potential.
  • Cuneo Hospital (720 W. Montrose Ave.). Originally opened in 1957, Cuneo Hospital dazzled. Architect Edo J. Belli introduced a new modernism to Roman Catholic architecture in Chicago. Cuneo may have been his crowning achievement, adding his own personal touches to Miesian modernism.
  • St. Anthony Hospital (2875 W. 19th St.) This Douglas Park Hospital is slated for demolition or redevelopment with a new hospital campus set to open at 31st and Kedzie. There have been talks of annexing the hospitals green space into Douglas Park.
  • 5700 Block of South Woodlawn Avenue. Best known as the block where Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House is located, this and surrounding streets contain some of the most historic residences from the World’s Columbian Exposition era. The University of Chicago has been purchasing property here and proposing zoning change to convert from residential to institutional zoning, putting some of the homes here and the historic integrity of the block in jeopardy.
  • Gethsemane Church (1352 S. Union). First built in 1869 as a school for German immigrants, this building has changed with the neighborhood. Over its life span it's become a Romanian synagogue, an African American church and an arts center.
  • Prentice Women's Hospital. (333 E. Superior). Designed by Bertrand Goldberg, this holdover from 2011's "Chicago Seven" list was ahead of its time with its cutting-edge cantilevered concrete design (which can be seen as an influence to Rush University Medical Center's new building), advanced engineering and its progressive plan for the organization of medical departments and services. The building, only 37 years old, is threatened with demolition.