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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Summer 2002 arrow Illinois: Renovation of the Ravenswood Branch El Line, Chicago
Closed Case:
Illinois: Renovation of the Ravenswood Branch El Line, Chicago

Agency: Federal Transit Administration
One of the branches of Chicago’s famous “El” train system, the Ravenswood branch passes through the Sheffield Historic District in Lincoln Park and features historic stations and platforms.

To accommodate increased ridership, the city plans to renovate the Ravenswood to smooth out turns, provide handicap access to certain stations, and enlarge platforms and station houses.

The plan also call for the demolition of a 1920s Gothic-style university gymnasium in the historic district, but neighborhood and preservation groups maintain that such action is unnecessary.

Ridership on the Ravenswood Branch of Chicago’s El train system has substantially increased over the years, and in 2001, the city sought Federal funds to renovate the Ravenswood to accommodate more passengers. The renovations call for enlarging historic train platforms and stations, providing handicap access to certain key stations, and re-engineering turns in the tracks to reduce travel time.

The city has agreed to renovate the historic platforms along the Ravenswood branch—some dating to 1899—in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, which set forth principles to help preserve the distinctive character of a historic structure while allowing for reasonable change to meet new needs.

The plan calls for the demolition of only two buildings, both in the Sheffield Historic District on DePaul University’s campus. One is a campus maintenance building that is not historic. The second building, however, is the Hayes-Healy Center, a Gothic-style gymnasium built in the 1920s that sits just east of one of the El stations that is to be renovated. The historic Hayes-Healy Center is one of the oldest remaining buildings on the DePaul campus.

The Seminary Townhouse Association, which represents a group of historic townhouses near the center, says that the city has overdesigned the El improvements and that the center’s demolition is unnecessary. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation became involved in the case in fall 2001, and attended an on-site meeting and a follow-up public meeting.

ACHP acknowledged that the planned renovations could avoid affecting the center, but it accepted the building's demolition due to the overall positive benefits of the project. In June 2002, ACHP, the city, and the Federal Transit Administration signed the formal agreement that outlines the treatment of historic properties affected by the plan, which includes the demolition of the Hayes-Healy Center.

Staff contact: Ralston Cox


Posted August 9, 2002

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