CITY HALL — A City Council committee signed off on a North Side artist colony, a church made famous by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a Daniel Burnham bank skyscraper Thursday as landmarks designated for preservation.
All cruised through the Zoning Committee without aldermanic opposition, although the West Burton Place artist colony, between LaSalle and Wells streets, faced a couple of complaints from residents.
Penney Kersten argued that landmark status would "devalue our properties" and raise insurance rates, while making repairs more costly.
Kersten brought her son in to testify as well, and was so persistent Ald. Danny Solis (25th), committee chairman, at one point told her, "You're out of line," later cutting her off by saying, "I think we get your point."
She was outnumbered by other residents and architecture aficionados. "This should have been done long ago," said Burton Place resident and property owner Trish VanderBeke, who called the one-block collection of buildings "a gem of Chicago architecture."
Mary Lu Seidel, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, called it "one of the most magical places I've ever been to in the City of Chicago."
Ald. James Cappleman (46th) echoed that, saying, "I want to make sure it's a magical place for many future generations."
Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, lauded the artist colony that grew up in the Depression era surrounding Edgar Miller and Sol Kogen. He called it "a Chicago treasure, a district of unique buildings with an amazing artistic and architectural history."
Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), whose ward includes the district, said the measure grew out of efforts to protect one building from a developer who wanted to raze it last year. That building was soon sold to preservationists in the face of opposition from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.
"You all should've landmarked this a long time ago," Burnett said. "I support the majority of these folks' wishes."
With Burnett's support, it cleared the committee and heads for final approval by the full City Council later this month.
Stone Temple Baptist Church, 3620 W. Douglas Blvd., had an easier time of it. Miller called it "a great story of Chicago" as a former synagogue converted to a church that became home base to the Chicago Freedom Movement after King was brought in to preach there by the Rev. James Marcellus Stone. Like Burton Place, it had previously won approval from the Landmarks Commission and cleared the committee without opposition.
Burnham's Commercial National Bank Building, 125 S. Clark St., which in recent decades was home to Chicago Public Schools, also was cleared for landmark status without opposition after previously winning approval from the Landmarks Commission.
All three head to the full Council for final approval as landmarks later this month.
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