It’s the second most popular post in the past year on this website, and it’s top five all-time in the three-year history of this blog. As February 14 neared in 2019, we examined how the site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is absolutely nothing today (it’s just a green space with a couple trees next to a senior center parking lot), and why that’s conflicted and complicated.
While it’s obvious that the city would not want to celebrate gore and crime, this notoriously dark incident is still a big part of what many tourist cottage industries do in marketing their Al Capone-related wares to tourists. However, when it comes to Capone related buildings, the one that’s truly missed is the Lexington Hotel (which used to be located at 2135 S Michigan Ave), and Ward Miller, Executive Director for Preservation Chicago, told me why.
“It’s one of the many places where he (Capone) lived and had his operation, but more maybe importantly, it was a marvelous building, it was also a designated Chicago landmark,” he said by phone in advance of “Daytime Talk: Chicago’s Most Endangered Buildings of 2020” at the Chicago Architecture Center presentation on Wednesday.
“Because it was open to the elements, and it was empty for so long, and because the Democratic National Convention was coming to Chicago in 1996, the city really wanted to clean things up, and unfortunately that was demolished. “
Before being demolished in 1995, the hotel served as the backdrop for the infamous Geraldo Rivera special, The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults, which received 30 million viewers, but didn’t yield anything newsworthy.
While the Lexington couldn’t be saved (a high end luxury residential complex called The Lex sits at that location today), this event at the CAC will focus on past successes and the currently endangered.
Miller’s presentation will unveil Preservation Chicago’s 18th annual “Chicago 7” list.
The list identifies seven architecturally significant structures that preservationists hope to save from the wrecking ball. Since 2003, Preservation Chicago has announced its annual list to draw attention to important Chicago historic resources threatened by demolition due to development pressure, neglect, or a lack of resources.
Miller spent two decades on the issues committee for Landmarks Illinois and served as vice president of Logan Square Preservation for 15 years.
He also helped the City Club of Chicago in its efforts to save the Chicago Theater, the Page Brothers Building and several buildings on Block 37.
“We focus on the individual building in each of the Chicago seven, we do tell its history and we do remind people why it’s so important,” Miller said in previewing the Preservation Chicago program on Wednesday.
“Sometimes we even offer a remedy or a solution. Often times we provide a solution. It’s really remarkable, a lot of time and research goes into thoughtful ways of framing this.”
“It’s not about shaming people, it’s about trying to grow a healthy city through research and historic preservation.”
“Daytime Talk: Chicago’s Most Endangered Buildings of 2020” FYIs
Wednesday, February 26 at noon Free with registration (registration link)
Gand Lecture Hall at the Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E Wacker Dr.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.
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