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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Victorian-Era Home In Lincoln Park Will Not Be Demolished After Developer Pulls Out Of Sale

"It's clear that the community is very attached to the house, sees its historical value and how it adds to the character of the neighborhood," the property owner said.

Developers have withdrew their offer to buy the Lincoln Park coach house at 1932-34 N. Seminary Ave.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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LINCOLN PARK — A Victorian-era home in Lincoln Park is no longer at risk of being torn down after a developer withdrew an offer to buy the home.

The home and coach house, located at 1932-34 N. Seminary Ave., was built in 1894 and has been on the market since last year. An unnamed developer wanted to buy the property, but its sale was contingent upon builders being able to tear it down and construct something new.

Neighbors opposed the demolition, saying the buildings have historic qualities that need to be preserved. They’ve also said they were worried about what type of construction would replace the historic structures.

Property owner Sarah Howard confirmed Tuesday the developer backed out of the deal, and she’s looking for a family to move into the home instead.

“It became clear to the developers that what they wanted to do with the property was not supported, so they withdrew their offer,” Howard said. “It’s clear that the community is very attached to the house, sees its historical value and how it adds to the character of the neighborhood.”

The two-story, 5,500-square-foot property in the Queen Anne style is being offered for about $2.5 million, according to its listing. Tucked into a corner between Armitage and Clybourn avenues, it sits across from a playground park and a few blocks from the North Branch of the Chicago River in the Sheffield Historic District, which itself made Landmarks Illinois’ list of most endangered historic places in the state in 2019.

The property includes the two-story home at the front of the property as well as its private side yard, two-story coach house and an outdoor parking area behind the coach house, Howard said.

“It’s the house I grew up in and there are a lot of things I loved about it,” Howard said. “But I think the yard is one of its great features. There are few places in the city, especially in that neighborhood, where you can have that kind of private, outdoor, natural space.”

The home first came into Howard’s family when her aunt bought it in the early ’70s and then sold it to Howard’s dad in the mid-’80s. Howard said she and her brother inherited the home from her father after he died in 2013.

The siblings are selling the property because it’s unlikely either of their families will ever move into it, Howard said.

Before the developers pulled out of the sale, a demolition permit for the two buildings was requested in December 2020, according to city records, but the property was placed under a 90-day demolition day because of its historic qualities.

The building is rated “orange” in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, meaning it has architectural features that make the building “potentially significant in the context of the surrounding community.”

After outcry from neighbors like Alex McGhee, who lives directly behind the property’s coach house, Howard had the demolition hold extended so she and the developers could continue “looking for an option that preserves the house.”

McGhee said she wanted more time for developers to involve community members in its plans to make sure they’d be a good fit for the neighborhood and that construction wouldn’t be too burdensome on neighbors like her.

“There’s a big unknown if the developers will be good neighbors while they’re building over the next few years … which is a huge concern for us,” McGhee said. “Whereas this Victorian home is clearly one of the oldest homes in the neighborhood, it sits right across from the park and it contributes to the family feel of this neighborhood.”

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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