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Mark Twain, Marshall Hotels Nominated For National Register

By Ted Cox | February 3, 2017 6:15am
 The Commission on Chicago Landmarks nominated the Marshall Hotel for recognition by the National Register of Historic Places.
The Commission on Chicago Landmarks nominated the Marshall Hotel for recognition by the National Register of Historic Places.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — The Commission on Chicago Landmarks nominated a handful of buildings for the National Register of Historic Places Thursday, including three North Side Single Room Occupancy hotels.

Following through on public recommendations made before a deadline last month and a subsequent public hearing Wednesday, the commission nominated the Marshall Hotel at 1232 N. LaSalle St., the Mark Twain Hotel at 111 W. Division St., and the Lawson House YMCA at 30 W. Chicago Ave. to a state board to be passed on to the National Register.

The Marshall and Mark Twain hotels both gained consideration under a new measure by the commission recognizing residential hotels dating from 1910-30.

"They're a special group," said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, who supported the nominations. "They do serve a certain segment of the community."

The Marshall was designed by architect Edmund Meles and completed in 1927, according to its Historic Places registration form. The application calls it "a well-preserved example of a residential hotel" and describes its "terrazzo flooring, textured plaster walls and an original painted reception desk."

The Art Deco Twain hotel was designed by Harry Glube in 1930 and has a sordid past, including a number of mysterious deaths that occurred there.

The building "exemplifies the rooming hotels that were purpose-built primarily to house the army of skilled but low paid white- and blue-collar workers flooding into the city in the early decades of the 20th century," according to its registration form.

With its high-profile placement on an open stretch of Chicago Avenue near Holy Name Cathedral, the Lawson YMCA is one of the most prominent Art Deco skyscrapers on the North Side. The most recent edition of the "American Institute of Architects Guide to Chicago" calls the Lawson "intact if timeworn."

Designed by Perkins, Chatten & Hammond, it opened in 1931 and was said to be the largest YMCA hotel in the world, with 650 rooms, all with shared baths. A Tribune reporter wrote at the time, "The rooms are small, almost cell like, but furnished in excellent taste."

The nominations go to the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council, which determines later this year whether to pass them along to the National Park Service for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

"It's considered a step forward to protect these types of housing for Chicago's most vulnerable populations," Miller said. While not technically protecting them like landmark status, he added, it moves toward "perhaps preserving these buildings, and not just the buildings but also the use" at a time when SROs have been dwindling.

Also nominated was the former Lucy Flower Technical High School for Girls, 3545 W. Fulton Blvd., which moved in 1927 to the current site from the South Side, where it was established as the city's first open enrollment school for women in 1911. Marked by three Gothic towers, Flower was closed in 2003 and is now Al Raby High School.

Also nominated was an expansion of the LaSalle Street District in the West Loop.