Landmarks Group Fears Brown Line Remodeling
CTA says opinions on work welcome


By Liam Ford

Date of Publication: September 13, 2002
Source: Chicago Tribune


The Chicago Transit Authority's renovation of the Ravenswood/Brown Line may leave few of the quirky historical details that add to the character of the elevated line's platforms, a leading Illinois landmarks advocacy group warns in a report to be released Friday.

But the CTA counters that it is working with state and federal preservation agencies on plans for the rehab. And although some buildings along the route may fall to the expansion of platforms to allow for longer trains, the agency has not decided how to redo the platforms and plans to preserve those Ravenswood stations that are considered historical.

The CTA hopes to begin work on the $476 million project next year to expand the increasingly popular line's passenger capacity.

But the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, in its list of 15 endangered Chicagoland structures, warns that historically renovated stations would clash with platforms lacking original ornamental metal railings, station signs and platform canopies or light fixtures that make many Ravenswood stations unique.

The line, which opened in 1907, originally was part of the private Northwest Elevated Line.

"The issue with the CTA is that they have concentrated on maintaining the historic structures on the Brown Line--the historic terminals--but they have not taken into consideration the rest of the infrastructure," said David Bahlman, executive director of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, a private, non-profit advocacy group.

Noelle Gaffney, a spokeswoman for the CTA, said the agency has not finalized plans for renovation of the Brown Line stations identified as historically significant. The agency has been open to suggestions from community groups and has held 80 community meetings so far and "made numerous design changes," which will cost about $10 million, in response to suggestions from the public, she said.

"We're working with every community along the line and, if historic preservation is important to that community, then we're trying to factor that in, and, ultimately, whatever proposals we have have to be approved" by federal and state historic preservation agencies, Gaffney said.

The landmarks council will release the list of 15 threatened structures during its 22nd annual conference, being held Friday and Saturday at the Allerton Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Among the other buildings on the list, which includes 10 structures in Chicago, is the Assumption School building, 319 W. Erie St., which St. Francis Xavier Cabrini once ran and which was built in 1899.

Other structures include: the old Chicago Mercantile Exchange Building, 100 N. Franklin St., built in 1927; the Metropolitan Community Church, 4100 S. King Drive, built in 1889; Cook County Hospital, 1900 W. Harrison St., built in 1917; and the Berwyn National Bank, 6801 Cermak Rd., Berwyn, built in 1926.

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