4 Things to Know About the Push to Designate Ravenswood Manor a Landmark District

Ravenswood Manor is a small, historic community tucked away in the North Side neighborhood of Albany Park. Like many other Chicago neighborhoods, Ravenswood Manor is defined by its historic charm and that charm is threatened by the push of new development. But instead of stepping aside for demolition and renovations that render buildings unrecognizable, the Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association (RMIA) is leading the charge to preserve the neighborhood by applying for Landmark District status.

Ravenswood Manor is Changing

Outside renovation of a home

Ravenswood Manor is already on the National Register of Historic Places, but that does not stop most of the major changes dismaying residents, according to Curbed Chicago.

When the neighborhood joined the National Register of Historic Places a decade ago, 91 percent of the neighborhood’s buildings were considered part of its historical character, according to the report. Now, that number has dropped to 83 percent. New development is steadily rewriting the character of Ravenswood Manor.

“The reality is, all those teardowns comply with zoning,” he said. “Are our hands tied to control really bad things? I think we’d be derelict not to at least look at the tools we can use,” Jim Peters, vice president and head of the zoning committee with RMIA, told Curbed Chicago.

The Historic Charm of Ravenswood Manor

Photo courtesy of Thshriver

To begin the landmarking process RMIA commissioned architectural historian Terry Tatum to analyze the neighborhood and determine whether or not it would be eligible for landmark status, according to the report. The resulting report outlines the history of the neighborhood and the significance of its architecture. 

According to the report, the neighborhood was developed by William E. Harmon in the early 1900s. Harmon called his development the “First Suburb Beautiful of the New Chicago.”

Ravenswood Manor is largely home to single-family homes—including Gable-Front houses, American Foursquares, and bungalows—and small flat buildings, although you can also find apartment buildings. The report also identifies other architectural styles in the neighborhood including Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance Revival, Prairie, and Tudor Revival.

Achieving Landmark Status

Photo courtesy of Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association

While RMIA has ensured the landmark process is underway, the neighborhood still has a number of steps to take before gaining official landmark status. The next step, which can take as long as nine months, is getting resident feedback and gaining their support, according to the Curbed Chicago report. After that, RMIA will need to present Tatum’s report to the city’s Landmark Commission.

Landmark status would not freeze Ravenswood Manor in time.

“We know change is going to happen, it’s constant. It’s a question of how do you manage the change,” Peters told Curbed Chicago. 

Landmark status would mean that the Landmark Commission would review exterior changes and demolitions planned for buildings constructed before 1933. The goal would be to preserve the community’s most historic and recognizable buildings.

The Loss of Historic Buildings Around the City

Photo courtesy of Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association

Ravenswood Manor is hardly the only neighborhood in Chicago experiencing a the loss of historic buildings. Chicago Magazine pointed to a number of other neighborhoods that have lost historic buildings in recent months. A Masonic Temple was knocked down in Englewood. A building designed by 1893 World’s Fair architect Daniel Burnham went down in the West Loop.

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