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Removal of Wicker Park Greystone's 'Spite Wall' Alarms Neighbors, Fans

By Alisa Hauser | May 27, 2015 2:51pm

A "spite wall" was removed from an 1880s-era Wicker Park greystone on Wednesday and will be repaired and replaced, according to the home's new owner.  [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

WICKER PARK — Separating a greystone mansion from a neighboring yard and considered a "spite wall" when it was erected in the 1880s, a limestone and brick structure was removed on Tuesday, sparking alarm among passers-by. 

"Everyone walking by seemed shocked and stopped to look," said a neighbor who asked not to be named, but alerted DNAinfo Chicago about the matter, adding, "I cannot believe it, and really hope they build it back to what it was."

Greg Cavil, a 33-year resident of Wicker Park, was walking to his job at Stan's Donuts around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, the day after the wall was removed. Cavil's reaction to the missing spite wall was, "Whoa!"

Dean Marks, the new owner of 2119 W. LeMoyne Ave., said he is working with a contractor, Marion Restoration Inc., to repair and replace the wall.

"It was leaning very badly. My wife wasn't sold on the spite wall, and now that it's down she wants it back. We had no intent to ever take it down [permanently]. It will be back in two weeks," Marks said.

A permit for the repair and replacement of "west elevation masonry wall," an estimated $27,710 restoration job, was issued on May 21.

Built in 1888, the home, which features a Queen Anne-style turret, was sold in March for $1.3 million, according to county records.

Marks and his wife, Matina, moved to Bucktown about eight years ago. They are still living in Bucktown as they oversee the conversion of the three-flat apartment building into a single-family home.

The Marks are keeping the home's side yard, though have removed some mature trees to clear more space for their children. The yard sparked controversy when its previous owners wanted to build a second home on the lot but the city determined it to be a protected landscape and denied the request.

Local historian Elaine Coorens, in her 2003 book, "Wicker Park From 1673 Thru 1929," wrote that the spite wall was erected to shield the home from its neighbor after a Victorian feud.

(l.) 2119 W. LeMoyne Ave. in May 2015 and at left, in spring 2014.  [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

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