LOSS: Bronzeville’s Boston Store Stables Demolished!

The Boston Store Stables was a well-designed commercial warehouse building located at 4340 S. Vernon Avenue in Bronzeville. It was built in 1906 by the Boston Store to support their new flagship department store located at the northwest corner of State and Madison in the Loop, also built in 1906. The Boston Store Stables served as a horse stable and parcel distribution station which allowed more rapid and efficient deliveries to their South Side customer base. After multiple uses and a long period of vacancy, it was demolished in late November 2018.

The Boston Store Stables were designed by Holabird and Roche with “bright red brick, three large, front-facing quoined arch window surrounds, brick circular portals, and quoined columns. Though lost to time and neglect, the stable originally had decorative terra cotta coping on top of the front facade. The stable building is unusual because these Romanesque and Italianate-era architectural traits popular in the 1880s and 1890s were mostly out of fashion by the time of the stable’s design in 1906.” (Chicago Patterns, 9/24/18)

The Boston Store Stables suffered from years of neglect and abandonment, but the building was not in immediate danger. The property had been on the market for a few years with hope that a preservation-oriented developer would emerge. The building became an urgent preservation issue when a demolition permit application from the recent buyer was discovered and made clear the new owner’s intention for the building. The demolition permit was issued on November 1, 2018.

Preservation Chicago worked closely with neighbors in Bronzeville and preservation partners to help organize a rapid response preservation effort to bring about a positive outcome. Preservation Chicago would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Bernard Loyd at Urban Juncture as well as to the dedicated neighbors who rallied to organize and support the preservation effort. John Morris with Chicago Patterns played an integral role in breaking this story and sounding the alarm regarding the pending threat to the building, in addition to conducting outstanding historical research.

A series of neighborhood meetings were held, a Change.org petition generated approximately 750 signatures in a little over a week, conversations were held with 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell, and conversations were held with the developer’s broker. The developer expressed a willingness to entertain offers to buy, but would not delay their demolition schedule and would not share their timeframe. Exterior tours of the building were coordinated with potential preservation-oriented buyers, including one foundation that expressed interest. Despite all of these efforts, there was simply not enough time for a preservation-friendly developer to emerge to buy-out the current owners and rescue the building.


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