One thing about us humans, even when the outcome is bleak we don’t give up hope. Such is the case with the Blair House in Lake Bluff (925 Sheridan Road). A public hearing will be held tomorrow (Wednesday, February 11) before the Lake Bluff Historic Preservation Commission as activists try to get landmark status for the building.
The home has architectural significance despite its current dire straits. The estate of the late Edward McCormick Blair, constructed in 1955, sits on 27 acres of land and is 7,550 square feet. The famous Keck and Keck architectural firm designed the home and was responsible for many contemporary Chicago homes of the era.
Mr. Blair was a prominent businessman throughout the mid-to-late 20th century, most notably as partner in the William Blair and Co. investment firm as well as being a board member for many businesses including Marshall Fields. Blair, who died in 2010 at the age of 95, was also a life trustee at the Art Institute of Chicago. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees for Rush University Medical Center and guided the investment committee for the University of Chicago’s board of trustees.
According to Blair’s will, the Lake Bluff home was to be sold, with proceeds donated to charity. In December, representatives of Blair’s estate requested that the house be demolished. The market value of the home and the surrounding area is $4.9 million according to the Lake County assessor’s office.
Lake Bluff requires that applicants looking to tear down homes older than 50 years must wait 90 days after submitting an application to do so. The 90-day waiting period is to see if there is any potential to grant landmark status to a property.
Preservationists list several reasons for saving the building:
- Named a “very significant property” by Architectural Record magazine in 1957.
- “It still retains a great deal of its architectural integrity,” says Bonnie McDonald, president of Landmarks Illinois.
- The home has been well maintained and the original design has not been altered.
- The home also contains its original furnishings that are of the period.
- The home belongs to the estate of the late Edward McCormick Blair.
Even if it’s granted landmark status, the Blair House could still face demolition if the owners submit another request for demolition and wait the mandatory four months. The property owners cannot be stopped from tearing down the home regardless of receiving landmark status or not. But activists are hoping for a big turnout at the tomorrow’s hearing in order to send a message that the building should be saved.
The hearing is at 7:00pm in the Village Hall boardroom at 40 East Center Avenue in Lake Bluff.