WIN: West Side YMCA/YWCA Complex at Ashland and Monroe to be Adaptively Reused

West Side YMCA/YWCA complex, 1513-1539 W. Monroe Street, Photo Credit: City of Chicago
West Side YMCA/YWCA complex fronting Ashland Avenue, Historic Photo Credit: City of Chicago

The Chicago Plan Commission approved the adaptive reuse of the former West Side YMCA/YWCA and Salvation Army complex at Monroe and Ashland by Cedar Street Companies on June 21, 2018. The $30 million transit-oriented plan will include ground floor retail, 260 residential units including 46 on-site affordable units. Cedar Street Companies has started the process to designate the building complex as a Chicago Landmark.

“The West Side YMCA/YWCA complex is a handsome and intact grouping of Classical Revival and Georgian Revival buildings. Stretching over two city blocks, the West Side YMCA/YWCA buildings form a cohesive complex. The complex served as a regional headquarters for the Chicago YMCA and an important center for social, educational, and recreational activities on the Near West Side neighborhood for nearly seventy years.”

“During the first half of the twentieth century, the YMCA and YWCA developed a comprehensive roster of programs and services at its West Side complex that helped young men and women, many of whom were recent immigrants, to assimilate, learn English, find jobs, and maintain a moral compass while living in the city. With dormitories for men and women, the West Side YMCA/YWCA also offered clean and safe lodging for hundreds of young people. During World War I and World War II, “the Y” was also an importance center of services and activity for soldiers and returning veterans.

“Architecturally, the buildings in the West Side YMCA/YWCA complex reflect a range of classical influences, with each building designed with slightly different but compatible ornament and detailing. The organization took seriously their responsibility to build facilities that were not only functional but also visually pleasing and an asset to their neighborhoods. The various architects that designed the different phases of the West Side YMCA/YWCA complex were all well respected Chicago firms that designed other “Y” facilities in Chicago and throughout the country.”

‘The complex is located at the corner of Monroe Street and Ashland Avenue on Chicago’s Near West Side. The buildings, which range in height from three and a half to six stories, are all faced with red brick and have limestone and/or terra cotta trim, offering a fairly uniform appearance from the street.” (Preliminary Landmarks Report, City of Chicago, June 7, 2018)

1513-15 W. Monroe was designed by architect Robert C. Berlin in 1907. The façade is trimmed with brick-quoins at the corners, and has a limestone belt courses. 1521 – 1529 W. Monroe was designed by architect Robert C. Berlin in 1912. This building combines Classical Revival features with stone detailing characteristic of the Prairie Style. Duncan Hall at 1531 – 1539 W. Monroe was designed by architect Perkins, Chatten & Hammond in 1928 with Georgian Revival-style building elements. (Preliminary Landmarks Report, City of Chicago, June 7, 2018)

Preservation Chicago provided public comments in support of the reinvestment and reuse plans proposed by Cedar Street Companies and fully supports the possible Chicago Landmark Designation of this important series of historic buildings.

Preservation Chicago wishes to applaud Cedar Street Companies for their ongoing focus on the renovation of Chicago historic residential buildings, and the adaptive reuse of historic Chicago buildings such as the Bush Temple of Music on Chicago Avenue and former Agudas Achim North Shore Synagogue on North Kenmore Avenue in Uptown. (Chicago 7 2015)

Additional Reading
West Loop Salvation Army redevelopment, other projects pass key city vote

Apartments Planned for Former Salvation Army Site on Near West Side, Stephanie Lulay, DNAinfo Chicago, 9/16/15

West Side YMCA/YWCA Complex 1513-1539 W. Monroe St. and 101-109 S. Ashland Ave.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

+ 8 = 11

Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!