LOSS: Despite Widespread Community Opposition and Press Coverage, 2240 N. Burling Demolished for Side Yard

“Historic House Torn Down” Front page coverage of the demolition of 2240 N. Burling Street in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood on April 25, 2023. Photo credit: Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune
“Historic House Torn Down” Front page coverage of the demolition of 2240 N. Burling Street in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood on April 25, 2023. Photo credit: Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune
“Historic House Torn Down” Front page coverage of the demolition of 2240 N. Burling Street in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood on April 25, 2023. Photo credit: Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune
2240 N. Burling Street decorated for Christmas. Photo credit: Judy Blatherwick / Courtesy Block Club Chicago
Judy Blatherwick and her sister Kathy held Christmas festivities at their home every year at 2240 N. Burling. Photo credit: Judy Blatherwick / Courtesy Block Club Chicago
Judy Colohan Blatherwick, right, and her sister Kathy Colohan Novy stand in the 1870s home they live in at 2240 N. Burling Street in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood on Jan. 17, 2023. Photo Credit: E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune
Petition to “Say NO to Demolition of Historic Three-Flat at 2240 N. Burling for a Side Yard” Image credit: Preservation Chicago

“A local real estate titan received a permit from the city’s Department of Buildings to wreck and remove a historic Lincoln Park home built soon after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, ending a monthslong effort by preservationists to save it.

“Thaddeus Wong, the Co-CEO of @properties | Christie’s International Real Estate, bought the home at 2240 N. Burling St. late last year for $2 million from his neighbor Judy Blatherwick, a 79-year-old Chicago Public Schools retiree. Wong filed for a demolition permit in November. But city planners in the 1990s rated the Italianate wood frame historically significant, automatically putting a 90-day hold on the permit.

“Activists from Preservation Chicago, along with local community organizations, launched a petition drive to save the nearly 150-year-old home. The groups also asked the Chicago Commission on Landmarks to further delay the demolition or officially landmark 2240, but commissioners denied that request in February.

“‘It’s really tragic, and we hoped the owner would have second thoughts,’ said Ward Miller, president of Preservation Chicago. ‘I don’t know of anyone in the community opposed to saving it.’

“Wong declined to comment for this story. Demolition was underway Monday morning.

“The tear down of Blatherwick’s longtime home is another sign the city’s 90-day rule can’t fully protect Lincoln Park’s historic buildings, added Miller, and without stronger safeguards, wealthy buyers will continue demolishing the community’s graceful architecture, including its few remaining affordable units.

“The national Sheffield Historic District covers much of Lincoln Park, including 2240 N. Burling St., but the designation doesn’t protect individual buildings. Between 1993 and 2019, more than 350 buildings, roughly one-third of the Sheffield district’s stock, was either demolished or significantly altered, often transformed from three-flats or other multifamily properties into single-family homes or new condominiums, according to an analysis by Landmarks Illinois.

“Residents are already mourning the loss of 2240 Burling, which Blatherwick’s mother-in-law purchased in the 1950s.

“‘I understand some people don’t want the expense of preserving wood buildings, but 2240 is a very early post-Fire building that certainly deserves to be saved, and I think it’s a travesty it’s being torn down,’ said Diane Gonzalez, a resident of nearby Old Town. ‘There is not enough protection, and that’s especially important for Lincoln Park, because its real estate is valuable, and some people want to put up fancy new buildings.’

“Preservation Chicago did explore several options to save 2240, he added, such as moving or disassembling the house and placing it elsewhere, much like the Harriet F. Rees House at 2110 S. Prairie Ave. was moved in 2014 to make way for Wintrust Arena, but the plans proved impractical. Instead, the group carefully photographed the exterior and interior of 2240, to at least preserve its memory.

“Gonzalez said Lincoln Park may need the stronger protections given by local landmark status. She helped lead the fight to get the Old Town neighborhood designated a city landmark in 1977, a move that saved much of its Victorian-era architecture.

“‘Old Town is a gem that was saved, thank God,’ she said.” (Rogal, Chicago Tribune, 4/25/23)

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