Oldest L Stop Vies for Landmark


By Lee Bay

Date of Publication: December 13, 2000
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


The CTA's oldest station--the Garfield Boulevard L stop, built to shuttle people to the 1893 World's Fair--could take a step toward city landmark status today.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will hear testimony on the station's architecture and history.

Built in 1892, the wood, stone and brick building, 319 E. Garfield, is one of the oldest commuter stations in the country and the oldest remaining L station. The structure is a remnant of the old Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Co. line built for the World's Columbian Exposition.

The Garfield stop is still in use but will be phased out when a new handicapped-accessible "superstation" is completed on the north side of Garfield in the next year.

Landmark status would make it difficult for the CTA to demolish the old station.

"We want to make sure the building remains," said Deputy Planning Department Commissioner Jim Peters, who oversees landmarks. The CTA is looking to lease it or making it a second exit for the [new] station."

Though the interior has been altered and the outside has been painted and repainted, the 108-year-old station provides a glimpse of Victorian era rapid transit architecture.

Designed by Myron H. Church--whose creations include the Gunder House, now the North Lakeside Cultural Center, 6219 N. Sheridan--the station has an Arts & Crafts-influenced bow window at street level. The building has a pressed-metal cornice and an original, though now bricked-in, arched window. An ornamental steel overpass--with decorative riveting--spans Garfield Blvd. Fancy patterned brickwork sits beneath a drab CTA paint job.

CTA spokeswoman Maria Toscano said the agency would retain the station for a "transit use" yet to be identified.

Landmark Commission approval would grant the structure preliminary landmark status, which would protect the station for a year until the City Council decides whether to grant the designation permanently.

If approved, the station's exterior and the overpass would be deemed landmarks, but the designation would not include the station platform and canopies.

Also on the architecture front, Mayor Daley is set to receive an award today from American Bungalow Magazine. Daley was singled out for the three-month-old Chicago Bungalow initiative.

A booklet of design guidelines for bungalow rehabs and restorations will be released today. Homeowners who adhere to the booklet's regulations would be eligible for tax breaks and other financial assistance under the initiative.

For more information, log on to www.chicagobungalow.org.