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117-Year-Old Victorian Home in Uptown Demolished Despite Preservation Fight

By Darryl Holliday | February 11, 2014 8:11am
  A 117-year-old Victorian home at 4642 N. Magnolia Ave. in Sheridan Park was torn down Monday.  
The Victorian at 4642 N. Magnolia Ave.
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UPTOWN — Attempts to save a Victorian home in Uptown from the wrecking ball failed Monday as the 19th century structure was torn down.

Despite some neighborhood opposition, a permit to demolish the home at 4642 N. Magnolia Ave. was approved last week after months of debate on the topic.

"We're all really disappointed it came to this," said Martin Tangora, a preservation advocate who has lived next door to the home for 38 years. He said destruction of the 117-year-old home was "completely needless."

Mike Finan and Liz Finan, Uptown residents who own O'Shaughnessy's Public House in Ravenswood, disagreed. Though they have rehabilitated a number of old buildings in the past — including their own Uptown home — they said the old Victorian was simply too costly to fix up. They instead plan to construct a six-flat apartment building at the site. They bought the home for $525,000 in a deal contingent on the city granting a demolition permit.

"The house is getting knocked down unless somebody wants it," Mike Finan told Uptown residents at a community meeting in December, offering to let preservationists buy it if they wanted it to stay. He said "the house is completely demolished on the interior" due to a fire years ago and would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to remodel.

The Finans could not be reached for comment as the house came down Monday.

Donna Allen, who lived across the street from the home for 10 years, said the demolition was bound to happen.

"My understanding is that there was no way of conserving it," she said. "Had it been maintained, I would say, 'Yeah, keep it" — but it wasn't being maintained."

But, according to Tongara, the home is a regrettable loss to Sheridan Park, an area in Uptown that was named a historic district in 1985 and is "filled with a dazzling array of unique single-family houses and smaller apartment buildings by some of the most prominent 19th and early 20th century architects," according to Preservation Chicago.

"This house struck me as one of the prettiest houses on the North Side," he said. "Even before we bought our house, we had admired this one, at a time when there was a lot of neglect and abandonment in the area."