THREATENED: 42, 44 & 46 E. Superior Street Townhouses Added to Demolition Delay List

Etching from Andreas’s History of Chicago showing the 4th Presbyterian Church that stood east of the rowhousess until 1914 when it was replaced by the extant Methodist Book Publishing House. The houses are visible in the image. Image Credit: History of Chicago; From the earliest period to the present time, by A.T. Andreas, 1885
42, 44 & 46 East Superior Street Rowhouse Demolition Delay Notification , Photo Credit: Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago

The three 1880’s-era rowhouses at 42 E. Superior Street (George A. Tripp House), 44 E. Superior Street and 46 E. Superior Street (Hennessey Houses) were added to the 90-Day Demolition Delay List on September 12, 2018. The George A. Tripp House at 42 E. Superior Street has been the long-time home to Sunny Side Up Brunch and Coffee Shop. Because of their orange-rated status in the CHRS, these buildings trigger a 90-Day Demolition Delay.

“These are all really wonderful buildings and they could make part of a landmark district,” said Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago. (Koziarz, 3/14/17)

“To ensure the protection of these buildings, Preservation Chicago is hoping that area residents will help push for the creation of a new landmark district. This is McCormickville. This is where the McCormick family lived before and after the Great Chicago Fire. And with the continued demolition of other shorter, older buildings in the area, that there are only a handful of the original McCormickville buildings left. We need to value every inch of space where there are historic buildings that tell the story of the neighborhood.” Ward Miller, Executive Director of Preservation, Curbed Chicago 12/8/16

The twin houses at 44-46 E. Superior were built sometime between 1871 and 1876 as a pair of attached single-family homes. The residents of 44 E. Superior were Richard Hennessey (1845-1920) and his brothers. Richard was a building contractor along with his brother Patrick Martin Hennessey with the firm of Hennessey Bros. His brother Peter J. was a distiller and Thomas Hennessey was soda water manufacturer.

The other half of the building at 46 E. Superior was occupied by the family of Michael W. Kerwin (1835-) who owned a liquor business. From this it looks like the Hennessey brothers likely had a hand in at least building the double house, if not “designing it.” The Hennessey Bros did work during the early 1900s with several semi-notable architects, so it’s possible that the double house was designed by someone of note. Its likely that Hennessey’s owned and built the building. The fact that a liquor dealer lived in 46 E. Superior may be due to the fact that the Hennessey brother that was a distiller and perhaps there was an existing connection.

The house at 42 E. Superior was likely built around 1880-1885 for George A. Tripp and his family. The architect for this house has not yet been identified. (With a special thanks to Matt Wicklund for historic research)

Back in April 2017, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly rejected a proposal by Symmetry Development to build a 60-story tower on the northeast corner of Superior Street and Wabash Avenue. Alderman Reilly opposed the development in part because of the widespread community opposition due to the traffic issues it would cause and issues of preservation.

At the public meeting held by 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly in March 2017, regarding the super tall building proposed by New York based Symmetry Property Development, Ward Miller’s passionate statement in support of preservation was meet with an enthusiastic round of applause from the over 300 residents in attendance.

That victory was only temporary and it was assumed that the developer would return with a more modest proposal. Prior to making its revised proposed development plans known, Symmetry Development is moving forward with its plans to bulldoze and clear the site. Perhaps the thinking is that by demolishing the historic buildings first and creating a large vacant parcel, the public approval process might prove easier.

Preservation Chicago strongly encourages the City of Chicago and Alderman Reilly to withhold releasing the Demolition Delay Hold or Demolition permit until after the public approval process for the new development has been completed. There are many examples, the most notorious being Block 37, in which significant time passed between when the demolition of the existing historic buildings and when the new construction broke ground.

Preservation Chicago strongly opposes the demolition of three orange rated row-houses at 42, 44 and 46 East Superior dating from the 1870’s and 1880’s. The status of the adjacent seven-story Art Deco limestone building and part of the historic four-story red brick Giordano’s building at 730 N. Rush Street, identified as significant in the Illinois Historic Structures Survey-ISS, are also potentially threatened by the same proposed development.

In fall 2016, Preservation Chicago discovered this remerged threat during conversations with the business owners, broke the story to the media, and began to deploy its rapid response advocacy to prevent demolition. An Asian investor based in New York had assembled much, if not all, of the block with the intention of clearing all the buildings and building a high-rise hotel. Some business owners had been warned of a possible redevelopment and are preparing for a 60 day notice to vacate.

Preservation Chicago has been very concerned over the increasing frequency and recent losses of low-rise historic Near North Side buildings, in and around an area established by Cyrus McCormick’s family and once known as “McCormickville”. As development pressure grows and as surface parking lots are being developed, developers have begun to actively targeting remaining clusters of intact, low-rise, historic buildings as development sites.

A new “McCormickville” Landmark District comprised of the handful of remaining historic buildings (less than a dozen) would be a powerful tool to protect this neighborhood’s historic building fabric and strengthen the vibrancy of this community. Preservation Chicago had suggested the “McCormickville” Landmark District to be considered for designation in the past.

Preservation Chicago is also concerned about the displacement and loss of small, locally-owned restaurants and retail Chicago Legacy Businesses that employ Chicagoans and contribute to the vibrancy of our neighborhoods.

Additional Reading
River North’s 60-story ‘Carillon’ tower shot down, shorter high-rise still possible, Curbed Chicago, Jay Koziarz, 4/10/17

Rejected! River North’s Tallest Planned Tower Since Trump’s Gets Blocked, DNAinfo Chicago, David Matthews, 4/12/17

Neighbors rebel over proposed 60-story high-rise in Cathedral District, Loop North News, Patrick Butler and Steven Dahlman, 3/15/17

Near North Side residents air opposition to proposed 60-story tower, Chicago Tribune, Gail Marks Jarvis, 3/14/17

Plan for 725-foot River North skyscraper revealed, Curbed Chicago, Jay Koziarz, 3/14/17

Preservationists want a new landmark district in River North, AJ LaTrace, Curbed Chicago, 12/8/16


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