“The neighborhood’s 120-year-old Truc Lam Temple has been demolished to make way for a preschool.
“The temple, 1521 W. Wilson Ave., went up for sale in 2017 and soon after the Vietnamese Unified Buddhist Association members who worshiped there moved to suburban Elmwood Park.
“Although a preliminary landmark designation was approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in 2004, the property never gained landmark status.
“Ward Miller, Executive Director of Preservation Chicago, said the landmark designation had approval from everyone except the temple. He said the owners did not want to landmark the building. The property fell under the Religious Buildings Ordinance, meaning the city could not force the designation upon the property owners.
“Miller said the building had fallen into “some disrepair” but that most of it is cosmetic. He said Preservation Chicago has been working since 2017 to find a buyer who would be interested in preserving the historic structure.
“The problem, he said, is a high asking price that “encourages demolition rather than a re-use of the building.” Property records show that the building was purchased for $1,050,000 in 2006.
“Originally, the building was known as the Ravenswood Club, and after that it was the Paul Revere Masonic Lodge.
“We have a remarkable set of buildings with a remarkable history, but there isn’t the political will to keep it preserved,” Miller said.
“He said he was frustrated that local leaders couldn’t get a deal done to save the building.
“It ties back to some of the early history of the community,” Miller said. “It’s a remarkable frame structure that really does sort of set the tone at that corner. With its big parkway and green space in front its a great asset for the community. It’s a waste to see just another four-story mundane piece of architecture there. The loss would be tragic.” (Ballew, Block Club Chicago, 11/1/19)
Despite Efforts To Save Truc Lam Buddhist Temple, 120-Year-Old Building Likely To Meet Wrecking Ball; Originally, the building was known as the Ravenswood Club, and after that it was the Paul Revere Masonic Lodge. Jonathan Ballew, Block Club Chicago, 11/1/19