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Restoration Of 1880s-Era Lincoln Park Home A Rarity In Land Of Teardowns

By Mina Bloom | July 14, 2016 9:26pm

LINCOLN PARK — The new owners of an 1880s-era late Victorian home in the Arlington-Deming district of Lincoln Park have chosen to restore it to its original glory — a rarity in a neighborhood where teardowns are more common.

In Lincoln Park, "the first words out of [peoples] mouths a lot of times is, 'How long does it take to get the demo permit?,'" said developer Robert Berg, whose company Foster Design Build is teaming up with architect firm LeVaughn + Associates on the project.

As a longtime developer and contractor in the neighborhood, Berg estimates that teardowns of historic homes in Lincoln Park have doubled or even tripled in recent years.

More often than not, new construction mega-mansions or single-family homes are built in their place. Last year, a DNAinfo Chicago analysis of teardown data found that in the mid-to-late 2000s builders were constructing a mix of multiunit and single-family homes through teardowns. But over the last three years, new construction single-family homes have become more common, data shows.

That's why the project at 538 W. Deming Place — designated "orange" in the city's land mark system for possessing some architectural feature or historical association significant to the surrounding community — is special, Berg said. 

"There are a lot of people that would've looked at that project and said, 'Let's just tear it down and build something new.' This client is really ginned up about doing a historic restoration and paying homage to how homes were built over 100 years ago," said Berg, who has about 22 other projects in Lincoln Park and Lakeview right now.

The plan is to bring in elements like crown molding and a Victorian stairwell that will honor the home's history. It's the opposite approach of the previous owners, who deliberately took out historical features and replaced them with modern elements, Berg said.

The home sits in the Arlington-Deming historic district, which wasn't even part of the city when it was built in 1881. It was part of the Lake View township until 1887, when the township was incorporated into the city, according to the city's landmark report. 

It belongs to a group of homes in the district that were designed for middle- and upper-class people for their "generous scale," the report said. 

Situated on an oversized lot, the home offers high ceilings, original leaded windows and an English garden. Berg said his team are also going to bring its glass solarium back to life. 

"What draws a lot of our clients to the city is the wonderful architecture that Chicago has," he said. "We're in danger of losing this architecture. Too many developers say 'Let's tear it down.'"

A rendering of the restored home's exterior. [Courtesy/Foster Design Build]

Below photos are of the home pre-restoration:

[All photos Courtesy/Redfin]



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