Monday, August 7, 2017

Restoration of church, apartment complex reveal value of neighborhood architectural gems

From Chicago-

Today's column is about the fall and rise of two neighborhood architectural gems — a Stick Style church where poet Carl Sandburg once worshipped and an Art Moderne apartment complex that was home to singer Nat "King" Cole, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and music producer Quincy Jones.

These buildings have a lot in common. Each was shaped by an architect known for more high-profile commissions. Each exhibits a style of design rarely seen in Chicago. And last week, Landmarks Illinois, a Chicago-based nonprofit, named both winners of 2017 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards.

The buildings — All Saints Episcopal Church at 4550 N. Hermitage Ave. and the Rosenwald Courts apartments at 4648 S. Michigan Ave. — share something else: Impressive revitalization after a descent into decay.

Completed in 1883, All Saints is thought to be Chicago's oldest wooden church building. The church likely used wood because stone was too expensive — and because its site at that time was outside the borders of Chicago, where wood-frame construction was prohibited after the Great Fire of 1871. Architect John Cochrane, who is credited as a co-designer of Illinois' and Iowa's state capitols, crafted a fine example of the Stick Style, which layered "stick work" boards atop wood wall surfaces, often to express a building's internal structure.

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