Construction Update
Warner House Reconstruction

It was just three months ago that the City of Chicago bestowed landmark status upon the beleaguered Augustus Warner House at 1337 North Dearborn Street.  The lovely Gold Coast home has been vacant for years, and preservationists worried it would crumble before it could be saved.  Then in June of last year, plans were unveiled to actually demolish the structure, setting the wheels of government in motion.

Now the saving process is well underway.  Two weeks ago the city issued a permit for “Exterior and interior rehabilitation and new 4 story addition to an existing 3 story single family residence with a new attached 2 car garage with roof deck as per plans.” Today a concerned neighbor posted a picture of the work to date on our forum:

Warner House construction

You can understand that the extent of the work has this person concerned, writing “I thought original walls and roof were supped to be untouched.”

According to the ordinance that made this a landmark, the protected bits are “all exterior elevations, including rooflines, of the Building that are visible from public rights-of way.”  But while the picture above certainly is scary looking, according to the Landmarks Commission, as long as the owner doesn’t tear up more than 40% of the building, it’s okie dokie with them.

In fact, in anticipation of the large-scale renovation of this building, the Landmarks Commission approved reconstruction of this building in August of 2013—four months before it actually became a landmark.  It attached some stipulations.  Among them are:

  • “The fourth floor addition, set back a minimum of 28 feet from the front facade, is approved. As proposed, the west (front) elevation of the fourth floor addition shall be clad with thin brick type material. The cladding color should be consistent with color of the common brick side wall of the existing building and cladding material”
  • “The roof deck railing shall be set back from the perimeter wall(s) so as to not be visible from the public right-of-way;”
  • “Repair details of the historic front bay and façade shall be included”
  • “Existing terra cotta units that cannot be repaired may be replaced with new GFRC units provided the GFRC replacement units are produced by a PCI-certified manufacturer or to comparable quality standards as certified by a licensed structural engineer, and the replacement units shall match the historic terra cotta units in size, shape, range of color, finish, texture, and other visual qualities. Samples of any replacement masonry, patching, and mortar shall be reviewed and approved by Historic Preservation staff prior to order and installation”
  • “New roofing at the front bay and front mansard roof shall match historic roofing should any evidence of historic roofing be uncovered upon removal of existing shingles”

The building was constructed in 1884 and designed by Lawrence Gustav Hallberg Senior.  The city considers it a landmark for a number of reasons.  Among them:

  • “the Building is a single-family house that exemplifies, at a high degree of design, craftsmanship and historic physical integrity, the Victorian-era taste for eclecticism in design”
  • “the Building combines visual elements from both the English Queen Anne and Victorian Gothic architectural styles in a manner that exemplifies the Victorian love of eclectic, picturesque design. The Building is lavishly detailed with a variety of ornament executed in traditional building materials, including red Indiana pressed brick walls; red molded brick and architectural terra cotta trim; historic multi-paned windows; a visually-unusual and prominent wooden bay projecting from the Building’s second floor and supported by wooden brackets; a historic glass-and-wood-paneled front door; and a limestone stoop with decorative- metal railings. The integrity of the Building’s front facade—historically the most important and visually dominant of the Building’s facades—is exceptional”
  • “the Architect is also noteworthy for his work for ethnic Swedish institutions. He designed a building for the Swedish Theological Seminary (now part of Kendall College) in Evanston in 1907…He also designed the Old Main Building built for Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, which is a grandly-scaled Classical Revival-style building built of buff- colored dolomite limestone quarried in Iowa”


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

Share This Post On