WIN: Art Deco Lawson House YMCA Renovation Nearing Completion

Lawson House YMCA Building, 1934, 30 W. Chicago Avenue, Perkins, Chatten & Hammond. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
Ceiling detail at Lawson House YMCA. Photo credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Art Deco tiles are revealed in the basement of the former Lawson House YMCA. Photo credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago

“The overhaul of the former Lawson House YMCA is taking shape after more than a year of construction.

“Developers hosted a walkthrough of the property, 30 W. Chicago Ave., last week, giving a first glimpse into the renovation, which started in December 2021.

“The 24-story art deco building is being transformed into 406 apartments for low-income renters. The $122 million project in the heart of the Gold Coast will include residential amenities, on-site social services and ground-floor retail.

“Many of the rooms get natural light. Rooms are 145-160 square feet complete with a kitchenette and a bathroom, something the previous units did not have. Each unit will be furnished with a twin bed, drawers, kitchen table and chairs.

“Part of the 19th floor roof is being converted into a rooftop terrace with a bathroom and a food prep area. The roof will also be used as program space for social service organizations, developers said.

“Historical elements are being preserved on the third floor, such as a small chapel room with stained-glass windows.

“Lawson House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, dates to 1931. It was built as a gift to the YMCA from Victor Lawson, publisher of the Chicago Daily News.

“The building first operated as a full-service hotel with social services to help people through the Great Depression before shifting to housing after World War II. The Lawson House was once the largest single-room-occupancy building in the city with 583 apartments.

“The Lawson House sold to developer Peter Holsten in 2014 for $1 with an agreement in place to keep the building as affordable housing for at least 50 years. The renovation is being completed by Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation and Holsten Human Capital Development.” (Mercado, Block Club Chicago, 3/3/23)


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