Preservationists: Don’t Lower Bar For …

The following is the position paper that Lake Forest Preservation Foundation President Suzanne Boren read to the Lake Forest Historic Preservation Commission at its monthly meeting on Oct. 26. It’s reprinted with the LFPF’s permission and regards “Old Main” on the Barat property. Be sure to read the addendum at the bottom of the letter.

October 26, 2011

Mr. Kurt Pairitz, Chairman
and Members of the Lake Forest Historic Preservation Commission
The City of Lake Forest
220 East Deer Path
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Dear Chairman Pairitz and Members of the Commission:

Anonymous donors have offered to purchase the Barat property and donate it to Woodlands Academy. The donation might permanently secure the Barat property for educational purposes and might settle the fate of this long-endangered property.

A CHALLENGE TO THE FUTURE OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION IN LAKE FOREST

The petition before the Historic Preservation Commission to rescind the Barat property from the Lake Forest
Historic District challenges the future of historic preservation in Lake Forest. The petition seeks to avoid the due process prescribed by the Lake Forest Historic Preservation Ordinance by requesting the City to approve delisting in order to obtain a permit to demolish “Old Main” and clear the property. Due process requires the Historic Preservation Commission to first consider issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness for a petitioner’s request to rescind in order to demolish. If the Commission denies that request, the petitioner can then enter the appropriate
process of requesting approval of a Certificate of Economic Hardship, as prescribed by the Ordinance.

To rescind a property from the local Historic District as a means to move directly to permit a specific historic building to be demolished and land to be cleared violates the requirement of the Ordinance, Section 51-11-(A)(3), which requires proof that the property no longer meets any of the criteria for inclusion. The inclusion of the Barat property in the Lake Forest Historic District remains valid because the property continues to meet criteria (1), (2), (5), (7), and (8) of Section 51-5 (A) (1-10) of the Ordinance. (Please see attached Appendix for details.)

We strongly urge the City to enforce the conditions of its Historic Preservation Ordinance. The appropriate process as defined by the Lake Forest Historic Preservation Ordinance is the Certificate of Appropriateness/Certificate of Economic Hardship route. As a Certified Local Government with four National Register Historic Districts and a local Historic District with more than 30 local landmarks, The City of Lake Forest has a legal obligation to enforce its law to protect the future of the historic resources of the community.

We shall appreciate your consideration of these comments and suggestions.

Sincerely,
Suzanne Boren
President, for the Board of Directors

cc: Mayor Cowhey and Members of the City Council, City Manager, Director of Community Development,
Members of the Plan Commission

The Lake Forest Preservation Foundation
Committed to preserving the historic visual character of Lake Forest

APPENDIX TO LETTER OF October 26, 2011

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BARAT PROPERTY

The Board of the Lake Forest Foundation for Historic
Preservation has studied (1) the historic building known as “Old Main,” and (2) the Barat
landscape, including the front lawn known as “The Hill,” the adjoining landscape bordering
Sheridan Road, and features such as the east ravine. “Old Main” and the landscape are
included in both the Lake Forest National Register Historic District and the local Lake Forest
Historic District.

Together, this historic building and landscape are cited as a “contributing resource” in the
National Register Historic District. This means that they comprise “a building, site, structure,
or object adding to the historic significance of a property.” This designation defines the entire
property as significant in defining the history of Lake Forest. (Meets Ordinance Criteria [1], [2],
[5], [7], [8].)

Architectural historians recognize “Old Main” as a monumental, distinctive American Colonial
Revival building that has defined the southeast entrance to Lake Forest since 1904. (Meets
Ordinance Criteria [1], [5].) ”Old Main” was designed by prominent late-nineteenth- and early-
twentieth-century Chicago architects Egan & Prindeville, who gained national distinction for
designing ecclesiastical buildings for the Chicago diocese and for the Catholic Church
nationally, including the Cathedral of St. Paul in Pittsburgh. (Meets Ordinance Criteria [2].) The
Barat land, which includes a religious cemetery honoring the memory of the sisters of The
Sacred Heart who founded and taught at Barat and Woodlands, is a significant local historic
cultural landscape, including the front lawn, the adjoining Sheridan Road streetscape, and the
east ravine. The founding of the school in Lake Forest by the sisters of The Sacred Heart order
has been defined as a deliberate decision to place their institution to educate and finish the
daughters of Chicago’s Catholic elite in the community which was home to the Protestant elite,
the power group of Chicago’s business and civic leadership group. (Meets Ordinance Criteria
[7], [8].) 1

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