THREATENED: Mercy Home to Demolish Beautiful Historic Building at 221 S. Racine for a Vacant Lot

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221 S. Racine. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
221 S. Racine. Photo Credit: Debbie Mercer

Mercy Home purchased 221-225 S. Racine and plans to demolish the building. Despite dating from 1892 and having a highly intact, beautiful limestone façade, it is not “orange-rated” because this building was overlooked by the Chicago Historic Resources Survey.

Without any protections, Mercy Home was able to receive a same-day demolition permit without any delay, oversight or approval. The demolition scaffolding and tarps have been erected and the demolition could start at any moment.

Per Mercy Home in a letter to Preservation Chicago dated March 4, 2020, “ We currently do not have plans for future development of the site at this time.”

Preservation Chicago anticipates this rare building type of fine carved limestone will be replaced with a vacant lot or paved parking lot.

Mercy Home claims that the building is unsafe and required an emergency demolition.

Contrary to their claim, Preservation Chicago was unable to find any evidence of an emergency court-ordered demolition. Furthermore, the building code violations that can be found in the public record are generally modest in nature and easily repaired. Some example of building code violations include:
• Repair or replace defective window sash. (13-196-550 B)
• Post address of building in conspicuous place on or near entrance with figures at least 3 inches long for residential, or 6 inches long for commercial building. (10-4-050, 10-4-090, 10-4-100)
• Remove accumulation of refuse and debris and keep premises clean. (13-196-580, 13-196-630)
• Repair or replace door hardware. (13-196-550)
• Equip exit door with door lock hardware so door opens without key from side of egress. (13-160-260)
• Install and maintain approved smoke detectors. (13-196-100 thru 13-196-160)

The building’s brick side and rear walls appear to be in good condition and aerial photography suggests that the roof has recently been replaced.

Preservation Chicago has reached out to stakeholders to request a temporary Stop-Work-Order or a revocation of the Demolition Permit to allow for time to better assess the true condition and find alternatives to demolition.

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