In 1980, a like-minded group of rehabbers met at a Logan Square community event and discussed their urban adventure. This was the beginning of a movement on the part of young professionals to return to cities, and Logan Square was an attractive choice with its housing stock featuring natural oak trim, working fireplaces, and leaded glass windows. One of the original founders lived in a house on Spaulding Avenue near Belmont Avenue that was built before the Great Chicago Fire and still had working gas-powered wrought-iron ceiling and wall light fixtures. This early group, which included architects, a photographer, a graphic designer, and real estate professionals, would meet at their houses (a practice that continued until the last decade) to discuss forming an organization (originally called “Logan Square Preservation Works” after a 1960s San Francisco counterculture term) to promote their neighborhood.
The group learned about “City House,” a preservation show for urban fixer-uppers to be held at Navy Pier and decided to host a booth there with high-quality graphics and a slide show of historic Logan Square buildings.
The meetings of Logan Square Preservation Works continued after the show with an emphasis on bringing awareness to the bargains that this first-rate historical neighborhood offered on buildings. This included hosting the initial house walk in 1981. One of the early house walks featured Victorian cottage style houses on Smalley Court (now Bernard Street) that were built at beginning of the 1900s.
Logan Square Preservation (the “Works” was eventually dropped) has been instrumental in encouraging preservation in Logan Square both at the municipal level and through individual partnerships with the caretakers of our neighborhood, including by:
helping to influence the City of Chicago’s decision to designate the Logan Square Boulevards District and the Milwaukee–Diversey–Kimball District as Chicago landmarks, and
advocating for the adaptive reuse of buildings such as the Comfort Station (Tour Site 4) and recently, the Logan Square Boys & Girls Club (Tour Site 16).
Logan Square Preservation also invests in the beauty and health of our famous boulevards, planting and caring for trees and ensuring that the boulevards are a green space for all. Through our recent collaborative work with neighborhood partners and elected officials, Logan Square Preservation has encouraged the preservation of vernacular residential and commercial buildings throughout the neighborhood, particularly on corridors such as Milwaukee Avenue. We have maintained a collaborative relationship in the stewardship of the Illinois Centennial Monument, keeping our most visible landmark a beacon of Logan Square.
In addition to all of these activities, Logan Square Preservation continues to offer a biennial house and garden walk. With help from our volunteer organizers, guides, and hosts, this signature event brings thousands of architecture fans from across Chicago and beyond to our neighborhood to view elegant, castle-like greystones, soaring houses of worship, Prairie School masterpieces, and cozy workers’ cottages, as well as some of our neighborhood’s most creative home gardens.
Logan Square Preservation realized that a house and garden walk could not be held at this time. Like many community organizations we needed to pivot our programming and be creative in our approach to outreach in order to keep ourselves and our community safe. We are delighted to offer this self-guided tour — Pillars & Porticos — to provide architecture and history fans the opportunity to explore, observe and enjoy our historic neighborhood from home, or at your own pace as you visit the neighborhood with family and friends.