GOLD COAST — The Charnley-Persky House at 1365 N. Astor St., a National Historic Landmark and home to the Society of Architectural Historians, suffered severe flood damage after heavy rains battered Chicago on Tuesday.
Designed by Louis Sullivan and his then-junior draftsman Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1800s, the Gold Coast house was built in 1891 and 1892 and has been on the National Historic Landmark registry since 1998.
Plumbers on Wednesday identified a blocked drainage pipe as the cause of the flooding, which sent water streaming down the eastern wall of the library onto the enclosed bookcase and intricately carved fireplace and left inches of standing water in the home's storage room, basement and powder room.
The water damaged the building's original woodwork and caused a portion of the ceiling to collapse. A spokeswoman said the architectural society doesn't yet know the total cost of damages.
"While this quirky flood caught us off guard, I am grateful that it happened at noon on a weekday when the SAH staff was ready to spring into action," said Pauline Saliga, the society's executive director.
"We were able to avoid more serious damage that would have occurred if the flood happened at night or over a weekend."
The house is open for public tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays and occasionally hosts public lectures. Tours have been canceled for this week due to the flooding, but Saliga said they hope to reopen the house soon.
Saliga said the Society of Architectural Historians is already fielding offers to volunteer and contribute financially towards the building's restoration. Necessary repairs include professionally drying the walls and ceiling, then replacing them with plaster.
Considered "a pivotal work of modern American residential architecture," according to the society, restoring the Charnley-Persky House will also require specialized repainting to maintain the interior's late-19th century modern styling.
"The Chicago architectural community is a tight knit one and we are very grateful for our many friends," Saliga said. The society needs additional support to fund restoration efforts. Interested donors can contact Carolyn Garrett at email@example.com or (312) 573-1365.
The Society of Architectural Historians, a nonprofit organization that promotes the study and conservation of architecture, was founded at Harvard University in 1940, and has been headquartered in the Charnley-Persky house since 1995.
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