Commission on Chicago Landmarks

Signs of New Life at the Historic Congress Theater

"Congress Theater Chicago" by Thomas Irvin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

"Congress Theater Chicago" by Thomas Irvin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

BTL Architects is pleased to be a part of a project that will bring new life back to one of Chicago's most intact neighborhood movie "palaces." The Congress Theater, located in Logan Square and built by Fridstein and Company in 1926, contains a 2,904-seat auditorium and was designated an historic landmark in 2002. The building has enjoyed a colorful and sometimes controversial past - and is being restored in anticipation of a bright future as a live music venue.

The $55 million major renovation project will restore the theater along with the store fronts and residential units that surround the theater. As reported by Paul Biasco in DNAinfo Chicago, the restoration group behind the project (New Congress LLC) is headed by Michael Moyer, who led the $20 million restoration of the Cadillac Palace Theatre downtown.

Architectural rendering by Woodhouse Tinucci Architects.

Architectural rendering by Woodhouse Tinucci Architects.

The Congress Theater features ornate interior and exterior design work in a combination of the Classical Revival and Italian Renaissance styles. You can see pre-restoration photos in this Curbed Chicago article from January 2015. The first phase of restoration, including the repair and reset of terra cotta and tuck pointing, has been underway this fall. The restoration aims for listing the Congress Theater on the National Register of Historic Places. Watch for more on this project in future posts.

 

A New Life for the 100-year-old Goldblatt's Department Store Building

Generations of Chicagoans furnished their home, bought their kids' clothes, automotive gear and even bought their Christmas trees at this store until it closed in 1985.  (The photo is from the archives of the American Terra Cotta Company which manufactured the building’s cladding)

Generations of Chicagoans furnished their home, bought their kids' clothes, automotive gear and even bought their Christmas trees at this store until it closed in 1985. (The photo is from the archives of the American Terra Cotta Company which manufactured the building’s cladding)

Last week the once-bustling Goldblatt's Department Store began a new life as New City Supportive Living. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Tuesday, September 22nd for what will now be an affordable housing complex for the elderly at 4707 S. Marshfield in Chicago. BTL Architects played a part as architect of record for the exterior façade restoration.

A rendering of the restored building.

A rendering of the restored building.

The building was originally designed by prominent Chicago architect Alfred S. Alschuler and built beginning in 1915.  The Goldblatt brothers, Nathan and Maurice, bought it in 1928. Thankfully, the building's architectural history has remained in tact due, in part, to receiving landmark status in 2013.

According to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks report, the building reflects important aspects of Chicago’s social, economic and cultural history. Earlier this year, the Chicago City Council approved a $2.4 million bond sale that helped push the once-stalled project to completion.

The New City Supportive Living community will be managed by Gardant Management Solutions, and operate through the Illinois Supportive Living program.

Chicago's Marina City Gets Preliminary Landmark Status

Marina City (project 1959 to 1967) by Chicago Architect Bertrand Goldberg

Marina City (project 1959 to 1967) by Chicago Architect Bertrand Goldberg

Last week, Chicago's famous corn-cobb shaped buildings, Marina Towers, were granted preliminary landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. But hurdles still remain for the well known buildings to receive permanent protection. According to a recent article, it isn't clear whether LaSalle Hotel Properties, which purchased hotel and commercial portions of the complex in 2006, will consent to landmark designation.

Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune reported that the Hancock Tower is also being proposed for landmark designation, despite opposition. If granted landmark status, the Hancock would be Chicago's tallest protected structure.