Parkland and historic architecture under siege in Humboldt Park. Sign to oppose.

Parkland and historic architecture under siege in Humboldt Park. Sign to oppose.

November 9, 2022
Petition to
Chicago Park District Superintendent Rosa Escareno and 8 others
Signatures: 2,079Next Goal: 2,500
Support now

Why this petition matters

Started by Kurt Gippert

Since its completion in 1896, the Receptory Building and Stable at 3015 W. Division St. has adorned the southwestern area of the Chicago Park District’s Humboldt Park. Unobstructed panoramic views, just like the Boathouse and Fieldhouse, have been enjoyed by visitors and residents for generations.

30 years ago, the entire park, the structures named above and many other structures, as well as numerous sculptures in Humboldt Park (1400 N. Sacramento) were listed by the National Park Service on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2008 the Commission on Chicago Landmarks designated the Receptory Building and Stable a landmark.

This all seems perfectly appropriate, as the Receptory Building and Stable is the Park’s oldest surviving structure. Also, the office of landscape architect Jens Jensen was in the building while he served as the Humboldt Park Superintendent. Jensen’s prairie style landscapes can also be enjoyed in Garfield and Douglass Parks, as well as numerous other Parks.

So, a landmarked building in a landmarked park is fully protected, right? NO!?!

Some years ago, a cultural organization leased the Receptory Building and Stable from the Chicago Park District.

Today, that tenant organization, a museum, is in the process of constructing a new building on Chicago Park District land adjacent to the original historic structure. The stated purpose of the new building is to store museum archives.

For some reason, prior to construction the tenant organization did not obtain permission from their landlord, the Chicago Park District, as required by their lease.

For some reason, prior to construction, the tenant and developer did not acquire City of Chicago Department of Building permits. As such, there was no opportunity for public review, which would have been required by the Permit Review Committee and/or the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.

The director of the tenant organization is a former Alderman of 15 years, whose experience as such and since then offers no excuse for proceeding with the project without first securing building permits and other governmental approvals.

Fortunately, the Chicago Department of Buildings issued a “Stop Work” order, and construction is at least temporarily halted.

However, even in its current unfinished state, the height and placement of the new structure shows that it cannot possibly complement or blend in against the magnificent original structure. The walls of the new structure, even without a roof, blocks and/or dominates the view of the Refectory building and Stables. The structural steel uprights shown in the photo outline the intended towering height of the building and roofline to 37.5 feet not including the raised foundation.

Numerous organizations and departments have been contacted, and more details are being sought. There is enough known to cause the utmost concern if preserving parkland and making sure voices of the community are heard.

The sketch that was submitted by the Museum to the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as part of the approval process shows a single level building with a small 2nd story and specifies 1500 square feet. However, the structure that is being built measures approximately 50 feet by 80 feet, and the concrete masonry unit (CMU) structure is currently stands about 20 feet high. It has a footprint of 4000 square feet. After receiving the documents in a FOIA request and a review of recently submitted (10/13/2022) after-the-fact permits to the Park District, there is a planned 2nd floor that increases the square footage to 6800 square feet.

If any level of approval for the project was given by the SHPO office, it would have required a determination of “no effect” or “no adverse effect” to the existing historic structure and park land. It is difficult to imagine a decision such as this being made by an operative of the Cultural Resource Protection arm of our state government, even if the structure was limited to the originally stated 1500 square feet.  Springfield would be wise to check in with the locals directly affected by new construction. As a matter of fact, there is existing State law that agrees, and since $750,000 in State of IL funds were granted, the project qualifies for a Section 707 Review. According to the administrative rule 4180.450 of the Illinois State Agency Historic Resource Preservation Act a public meeting is required. There was none.

This matter requires public input. We must demand it.

If the public intervenes now, we may be able to get this project moved to a more suitable location. We cannot trust this to work itself out and this is the time to let our voices be heard.

Sign this petition to vote to preserve parks and parkland. Show our elected officials and government employees that we demand that public servants serve the public. Help to preserve the right to public comment.

Please sign, and please forward the petition link to at least a dozen thoughtful people you know.

Thank you,

Kurt Gippert and Paula Cabrera

Feel free to contact the decision makers yourself to seek information, answers, request FOIA, and to inform them of your position on the co-opting of public lands for permanent use. Chicago Park District Superintendent Rosa Escareno (312) 742-4200

Heather L. Keil
Chicago Park District, Acting General Counsel which is the Community Relations Department IL SHPO Cultural Resources Coordinator (217) 785-5027 Commission on Chicago Landmarks (312) 744-3200

Chicago Department of Buildings (312) 744-3449

Brandon Johnson

City of Chicago Office of Inspector General

Diane Saltoun
Executive Inspector General, Office of the Attorney General

Governor J.B. Pritzker
Office of the Governor
217-782-6830 or 217-782-6831
312-814-2121 or 312-814-2122

26th Ward Alderperson Jessie Fuentes (773) 395-0143

Support now
Signatures: 2,079Next Goal: 2,500
Support now

Decision Makers

  • JB PritzkerGovernor
  • Rosa EscarenoChicago Park District Superintendent
  • Heather L. KeilChicago Park District, Acting General Counsel
  • Brandon JohnsonMayor of the Great City of Chicago
  • Commission on Chicago LandmarksCommission on Chicago Landmarks