Reagan apts. slated for teardown

Staff Writer

The University of Chicago filed for a permit on December 27 to demolish the home where former President Ronald Reagan briefly lived as a child.

The building is rated orange under the City of Chicago Historic Resources Survey, meaning it may have some noteworthy history or architectural value to keep it from being demolished. A hold has been put on the issuance of a demolition permit until March 27. The Department of Housing and Economic Development will accept comments from the public on an advisory basis during that period.

The University of Chicago currently owns the home, a six-flat apartment building located at 832 E. 57th St.. The university has plans to demolish the building and expand the University of Chicago medical campus.

The Historic Resources Survey was conducted during the late 1980s and early 1990s, said Pete Strazzobosco, deputy commissioner at the HED. The timing of the survey, while Reagan was still in the White House, may have contributed to the building’s rating.

The building was constructed in the early 1900s. Reagan lived there for 10 months between the ages of 3 and 4. He wrote about his time in the home in his memoir. His family arrived in 1914 and while living there he survived a bout of pneumonia.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks denied a request to landmark the building, which would have prevented it from demolition.

“It’s a pretty modest apartment building for its style and age,” Strazzobosco said. “It doesn’t have very much style, at least not enough for the Landmarks Commission to consider a possible landmark for it.”

Landmarking a place where a person of significance lived is not uncommon, but usually the property is associated with that person’s most notable years. Reagan did not live in the home while working as an actor, governor or president.

He is, however, the only former president born and raised in Illinois.

Reagan was born in Tampico and the family lived in Monmouth and Galesburg before settling in Dixon.

The first house Reagan lived in when the family moved to Dixon was later turned into the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, a museum documenting his life.
A 90-day hold before a demolition permit can be issued gives an opportunity to discuss alternatives to demolition. The university has expressed its support for placing a plaque on the site.