THREATENED: Longshot Landmark Designation Possible for the Sundmacher-Grossman House at 1517 W. Barry Avenue Before Expiration of the 90-Day Demolition Delay

1517 W. Barry Avenue side yard, built circa 1888. Photo Credit: Zillow
1517 W. Barry Avenue rear yard and garage, built circa 1888. Photo Credit: Zillow
1517 W. Barry Avenue interior, built circa 1888. Photo Credit: Zillow

1517 W. Barry Avenue was added to 90-Day Demolition Delay on March 3, 2019. The applicant is Platinum Homes Development and has requested a permit for the “demolition and removal of a 2-story frame house.” This is a beautiful orange-rated home in excellent condition and should not be demolished. Preservation Chicago would like to encourage a Landmark designation.

Preservation Chicago has been in touch with stakeholders and has been mobilizing a rapid response advocacy effort to attempt to save this home from demolition. The double lot is a tempting prize for developers.

The Zillow listing describes the home as “a gardener’s dream on an idyllic double lot with all the conveniences the city has to offer in the Lakeview neighborhood. Light streams through gorgeous stained glass windows showcasing the incredible, well-preserved vintage charm in this rare opportunity. This 4 bedroom/2 bath Victorian home, rich in character and detail, boasts 11′ ceilings, wide plank pine floors, bay windows and wood burning fireplace with exquisite tile surround. Thoughtfully designed high end kitchen complete with custom cabinets, granite countertops, breakfast bar and commercial grade appliances. A 2 car garage, enormous landscaped yard and garden rounds out this incredible opportunity. All within walking distance to Burley, Whole Foods and the Southport Corridor.”

Per Preservation Chicago’s research and analysis, it appears that 1517 W. Barry would meet Landmarks Criteria for Criterion 4 for Significant Architecture for its rarity, uniqueness and craftsmanship; perhaps Criterion 3 for Significant Person; and perhaps Criterion 1 for Critical Part of the City’s Heritage.

The house was built c. 1888 by Frederick W. H. Sundmacher who worked at a lumber yard until 1883 and then bought an interest in a brick company in Lake View. His father, Conrad Sundmacher, arrived from Germany in 1854 and came to Lake View in 1869. He started a brickyard with Henry Brauckmann. Sundmacher & Brauckmann’s clay pit and brick kilns were located on the southeast corner of Wellington and Ashland in the middle of a long row of brick makers. Frederick Sundmacher bought out Brauckmann’s interest in the company and moved to Lake View where he bought the property to build his house at 1517 W. Barry. Brick-making was an important industry in Lake View and one that helped to build and define the City of Chicago. The Sundmacher family had connections to other early and well-established brick makers that operated along Ashland Avenue during the late 19th century.

The current owner, Mr. Harvey Grossman had a distinguished career as the Legal Director of the ACLU-American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois from 1980 to 2015. Mr. Grossman is a Civil Rights attorney who has accomplished an incredible number of significant legal accomplishments. In addition to helping to establish statewide healthcare standards for Illinois prisons/ prisoners, he ensured that persons with HIV are protected by Federal anti-discrimination laws, corrected issues relating to punch card voting in Illinois, successfully challenged illegal loitering laws, brought an end to CHA warrantless searches of apartments, made progress preventing political patronage of government contracting jobs and the fought for the rights of civilians to record police officers.

He played a “significant role in the development of the Illinois AIDS Confidentiality Act, the Illinois Traffic Stop Statistical Study Act (based on a person’s race), and the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003.” Under his leadership, “he grew the agency to ten full time lawyers overseeing a docket on issues ranging from free speech to LBGTQ rights. It is impossible to overstate the role that Harvey Grossman has played not just in the building the legal program in this office, but in protecting the fundamental rights of thousands of people across Illinois.” (

That’s a phenomenal history and series of accomplishments! Preservation Chicago supports his own personal residence should be designated a Chicago Landmark, noting the two or more criteria for Chicago Landmark Designation would be fulfilled due to the significance of its builder and residents.

Additional Reading
Zillow Description of 1517 W Barry Ave (With more photos)



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