“One of Uptown’s historical buildings is undergoing a massive renovation after years of neighbor efforts to preserve it.
“City officials helped break ground Tuesday on the renovation of the Clarendon Park Community Center, a 106-year-old field house once threatened with demolition.
“The city and Park District are spending $13 million to upgrade the facility, including giving it new accessibility features, outdoor space and a remodeled lobby. Work will soon begin on the long-promised renovation that seeks to restore the community center to its former glory.
“‘We came very close to having this demolished,’ Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said at the groundbreaking. ‘Every battle that had to be fought was fought and won.’
“The community center at 4501 N. Clarendon Ave. will see a massive overhaul that will refurbish the 1916 structure and improve community amenities. The gym will be renovated, the lobby rebuilt and there will be a new outdoor gathering area. Work will also include a renovated dance studio, performance space and club rooms, according to a planning document presented to the public.
“The renovation work is badly needed, as the structure’s deteriorating condition led it to be included in Preservation Chicago’s 2015 list of the city’s ‘most threatened’ historic buildings.
“In 2019, Park District officials unveiled multiple proposals for the site, including demolishing and replacing the structure. Neighbors and preservationists rallied to the building’s cause, helping convince the Park District to invest in its restoration.
“‘We thought it was important to preserve the building beyond its architecture,’ said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. ‘This building is a safe haven for children.’
‘The Clarendon Community Center was built in 1916 as a bath house to serve the Clarendon Municipal Beach. At the time, Lake Michigan’s shores abutted the beach bath house.
“‘We’re bringing back the old and making it new, making it functional,’ Park District CEO Rosa Escareño said. ‘Projects such as this really cater to everyone in our city.'” (Ward, Block Club Chicago, 9/14/22)
Preservation Chicago applauds Ald. James Cappleman for his commitment to seeing the Clarendon Park Community Center protected from demolition and for helping to solidify the necessary renovation funds. Preservation Chicago applauds the Chicago Park District for its flexibility, support and commitment to this important project.
The Clarendon Park neighbors and community stakeholders played an essential role in this effort and deserve special recognition for their unwavering support for this wonderful outcome with a special thanks to Katharine Boyda, Melanie Eckner, Martin Tangora, Cindi Anderson, Stuart Berman, the Uptown Historical Society, the Clarendon Park Advisory Council, Uptown United and Uptown Chicago Commission.
Preservation Chicago is committed to strengthening the vibrancy of Chicago’s economy and quality of life by championing our historic built environment. Preservation Chicago protects and revitalizes Chicago’s irreplaceable architecture, neighborhoods and urban green spaces. We influence stakeholders toward creative reuse and preservation through advocacy, outreach, education, and partnership.