Preservationists on Alert Over Potential Uptown Art Deco Demolition

The klaxon you hear pealing across Uptown these days is the sound of Preservation Chicago having a minor freak-out over the potential demolition of the building at 1001 West Leland Avenue.

Alderman Cappleman's list of neighborhood shitholes.

Alderman Cappleman’s supplemental list of Uptown shi… development opportunities.

To be sure, the two-story mixed-use building has seen better days.  It’s been neglected, foreclosed, abused, vandalized, and finally abandoned.  As far back as May of 2012, 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman asked the Chicago Department of Buildings to add it to the city’s official roster of vacant and abandoned properties.

A look at its list of building code violations over the last 10 years is pretty much an instruction manual of how not to run a building: Improper locks, exposed wiring, collapsing ceilings, holes in floors… And in case you ever wondered if the city really does check to see if landlords are keeping apartments at the required minimum temperature during Chicago winters, this building’s been dinged for that, too.

But that’s not to say that the building isn’t loved.  Preservation Chicago says it “features some incredible terra cotta ornament, including the wonderful art deco faces.”  And Uptown Update, the Chicago blog that pulls no punches, seems to have an affinity for it, as well.

Drawing of Sarah's House

Drawing of Sarah’s House

The reason for all the concern is that Sarah’s Circle, the women’s shelter and a whole lot more, wants the corner in question for a new seven-story building designed by Perkins+Will called Sarah’s House.

Sarah’s House will feature temporary lodging, group therapy rooms, a dining hall, a lounge/computer lab, and space for case workers to operate.

Any time a charity such as S.C. has the means to make that kind of major expansion, it’s hard to stand in its way.  But Uptown Update points out that there isn’t exactly a shortage of abandoned places in the neighborhood that might also be suitable spaces.

Further hashing out of the issue will happen tonight at 7:00pm at Sarah’s Circle, 4838 North Sheridan Road. That’s about a block and a half north of the subject property.

Location: 1001 West Leland Avenue, Uptown

Author: Editor

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

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