KENWOOD — The former director of the Hyde Park Art Center is selling his Kenwood home for $1.37 million and it comes with Bronze Age megaliths that allegedly can summon rain.
Chuck Thurow, who retired from the art center in 2010, is pulling up roots to move abroad. Before he leaves he is giving away 1,500 pieces of art from his personal collection and selling his house at 4828 S. Kenwood Ave., with its five stone Indonesian megaliths in the backyard.
“I’m 75, and I decided I needed to start over,” Thurow said.
He said he’s still deciding between Barcelona and Amsterdam for his home after Kenwood. In the meantime he is donating much of his art collection.
An upstairs room of the house built in 1898 is now empty after Thurow purged his collection of 360 masks as part of a donation of more than 800 objects to the Field Museum. He’s also donated 114 pieces to the DePaul Art Museum and other items to other museums around the city.
Chuck Thurow said he will find a new home for the five stone megaliths if the new owner doesn't want them. [DNAinfo/Sam Cholke]
But five of his largest pieces are still in his backyard, five spires of stone, the tallest nearly 15 feet tall.
Thurow said he got a call from a friend at the Field Museum in 2000 asking him if he had space for five Indonesian megaliths.
The 3,000-year-old stones marked the center of a remote Indonesian village that survived life on dry island by collecting rain and other fresh water, according to Thurow. He said he was asked to take the stones because the Indonesian government at the time was grinding up the stones from abandoned villages to build roads.
Thurow said the stones likely had some connection to the rain, and he said he believes it, flashing a smile.
He said that for a party he invited a dancer to create a performance using the stones, and as soon as the dancer rounded the stones, it began to rain.
“He just kept on dancing,” Thurow said.
Chuck Thurow is selling his Kenwood home at 4828 S. Kenwood Ave. for $1.37 million. [Courtesy of Chicago Home Photos]
He said he’s offered to take them back to Indonesia, but the Indonesian government declined. The Field Museum also declined to take the stones because of strict laws governing how antiquities can be acquired.
Thurow said the next owner can choose to keep the stones; otherwise they will go to another artist on the South Side, where they may or may not continue to be part of South Side art parties.
“It’s been a great house for parties,” Thurow said. “I still want to do a circus in the backyard.”
Thurow said the block was once the party block in Kenwood, and the house still bears some lasting changes from the artists who frequented those parties.
The birch trees in Thurow’s front yard all had extra branches added as part of a piece created by artist Kate Friedman for one party.
Thurow said he’s ready to start the next chapter of his life, but he’s in no rush to sell the house until there’s at least one more party with a trapeze in the backyard.