Chicago’s Landmarks Commission has approved a plan to make the former Lyman Trumbull school building in Andersonville the city’s newest landmark. The building on the northwest corner of Ashland and Foster was designed by Dwight H. Perkins (once of Burnham & Root), and built in 1909.
A report for the Landmarks Commission describes the building thusly:
Trumbull is regarded as one of Perkins’s most innovative designs for the Board of Education. With its lack of historical ornamentation, emphasis on simple brick materials, strong massing and combination of vertical and horizontal emphases, the design of Trumbull exemplifies the Prairie School of architecture.
Mr. Perkins designed the school that way because the Chicago school system didn’t have money for enthusiastically-decorated edifices, and back then — as today — wanted to conserve cash. The result was a building that looked like an education factory in its time, but today’s light sees it much more sympathetically.
The old school building is eligible for landmark designation because it is, “a tangible symbol of the social and educational reforms put forward by the Progressive Movement in the late-19th and early-20th centuries,” because it is, “an innovative example of the Prairie School movement in architecture,” and because it’s a Perkins design.
If the name Lyman Trumbull doesn’t ring a bell, he was a senator from Illinois and one of the authors of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
The building is no longer part of Chicago Public Schools, but its education mission continues as the Andersonville location of the Chicago Waldorf School.
Right now, the Trumbull building is listed as code orange, which means that if a developer wanted to knock it down, a bunch of people would say, “Hey, it’s code orange!” and the city would look the other way while it was pulverized.
Giving it a formal landmark designation should help preserve the building, which is part of the fed’s Andersonville Commercial Historic District.
- Address: 5200-5224 North Ashland Avenue
- Address: 1600-1612 West Foster Avenue
- Developer: Chicago Board of Education
- Architect: Dwight H. Perkins
- Built: 1908-1909 (North wing designed by Arthur Hussander was added in 1913)