EDGEWATER — The home of late spoken word artist Ken Nordine was made a Chicago landmark Wednesday, one year after it faced demolition and a community effort was started to save the mansion.
City Council voted Wednesday to grant historical landmark designation to the stately Edgewater mansion, successfully ending the effort to save the home from redevelopment.
Nordine, a celebrated jazz poet and voice actor, lived in the corner lot house at 6106 N. Kenmore Ave. until his death in 2019 at the age of 98. The last single-family home on a block of mid-rises, Nordine’s estate listed the mansion for sale and in early 2020 sought to demolish the house.
Because the house was listed as “potentially significant” in the city’s historical survey, the demolition permit application set off a 90-day delay to see if demolishing it would be appropriate. The action also caused Edgewater neighbors to rally to the home’s preservation.
The Logan family foundation is a supporter of jazz, the arts and preservation efforts. The owners have signaled their intent to preserve the Edgewater home, Block Club previously reported.
“We are over the moon,” Bob Remer, president of the Edgewater Historical Society, said when the home was sold. “The community really came together to make this happen.”
The home was built in 1902 by the architecture firm Pond and Pond, home some of the most notable architects in Chicago history. It was built for the industrialist Herbert Farrington Perkins.
Constructed in the arts and crafts style, the home is one of the last surviving first-generation mansions built in Edgewater’s early years, according to a city assessment of the home.
Nordine bought the home in 1951. He used a studio in the home to record some of his most notable works of art, including the Grammy-nominated “Stare With Your Ears,” a spoken word album that highlights Nordine’s unique mixing of beat poetry and jazz music, coined “Word Jazz.”
Though it is said to have maintenance issues, the home is a remnant of the bedroom community of lakeside mansions Edgewater once exemplified, preservationists have said.
“This building helped me understand what this neighborhood was before its rapid change,” Maurice Cox, commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development, said at a committee meeting over the fate of the home.
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