“The former home of La Luce Italian restaurant, which was nearly torn down late last year, once again has been granted a reprieve from demolition.
“The Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted unanimously Thursday to grant temporary landmark status for 1393-1399 W. Lake St. following impassioned pleas from preservationists and dozens of citizens. Commissioners also rejected the owner’s permit application seeking to tear down the building 19th century, Queen Anne Victorian building.
“The commission’s approval of initial landmark status triggered an expedited process for permanently protecting the 130-year-old Fulton Market building. Under the city code, the commission must schedule a public hearing and notify City Council of its recommendation within 90 days.
“Commissioner Maurice Cox said the developers were sitting on a ‘vintage’ and ‘pretty rare asset’ in Chicago architectural history. The city doesn’t lose structures like this as part of a mass demolition, he added. ‘You lose them one building at a time, until you are hanging on to one or two exemplars,’ he said. ‘I would encourage the development team for this particular site to embrace those assets that will in fact enrich [development.]’
“Preservation Chicago Executive Director Ward Miller said the building’s red brick limestone, ornamental bays and copper features are ‘nothing less than outstanding,’ he said. The building was constructed in anticipation of the 1893 World’s Fair and is still visible for blocks, he added.
“Miller said the outpouring of support to try to save the building is the greatest public response the organization has ever seen.
“Petitioners also provided 24 pages’ comments opposing demolition. Lauren Zawilenski wrote, ‘More of Chicago’s history needs to be preserved. Buildings like this are getting knocked down and overdeveloped left and right!’
“Gregory Stepanek wrote, ‘I pass this building on a daily basis, and always marvel at its uniqueness. We have lost far too much of our history. Let us NOT lose this gem. Let’s stop erasing our history.’
“Diane Gonzalez, an Old Town resident and member of the Preservation Chicago board, said Fulton Market is one of the “fastest changing neighborhoods” in Chicago as old factories and warehouses are converted into bars and restaurants.
“‘In the midst of newcomers sits the venerable 1393 West Lake,’ she said. ‘Now is the chance … to save this storefront.’ Her great-grandfather Antonio Gonzalez was a Spanish cigar seller who frequented the Fulton Market district’s numerous tied houses. This history must be protected, Gonzalez said. ‘It is a treasure,’ she said.
“Eight historic tied houses were included in a landmark district designated by the city in 2011. The Lake Street property was not included in the designation due to objections from its owners at the time, according to Preservation Chicago.
“Beyond their noteworthy architectural elements, Chicago’s remaining tied houses represent the city’s history, Hahn said. Known as the ‘poor man’s’ club, tied houses often offered services in an immigrant’s native language.
Preservation Chicago is thrilled at this outcome. We have advocated for the building’s preservation since 2016 and with urgency over the past six months since its change of ownership. (Peña and Alani, Block Club Chicago, 4/1/21)
Former La Luce Building In West Loop Saved From Demolition Again, Given Temporary Landmark Protection; The former Schlitz Tied House dates back to 1891. Most tied houses of this size and stature have been torn down, city officials said, Mauricio Peña and Hannah Alani, Block Club Chicago, 4/1/21
After Being Spared From The Wrecking Ball, Victorian Building Formerly Home To La Luce Could Get Landmark Status; If approved, the recommendation would be the first step in designating the Fulton Market building, which dates back to 1891, a city landmark, Mauricio Peña, Block Club Chicago, 3/31/21
Threatened West Loop building from 1891 could be spared from redevelopment; The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will decide the fate of the historic former tied house at the corner of Lake and Ogden, Jay Koziarz, Urbanize Chicago, 3/30/21
129-Year-Old Victorian Building, Former Home To La Luce, Scheduled For Demolition; The former Italian restaurant and Midwest Performance Cars buildings are being torn down, likely to make way for a development, Jay Koziarz, Block Club Chicago, 12/2/20