Lost Hyde Park: Preserving “creatively and constructively”

Respected Hyde Park Alderman Leon Despres had long argued for preservation, believing that while it is not possible to preserve every old building, it was necessary to do all one could to preserve “creatively and constructively.” Despres thought protecting historic urban areas required making some sacrifices, yet was a “sign of a society’s cultural maturity.” And the American Institute of Architects summed the issue up succinctly: “All we need is a sense of greatness and a willingness to elevate the common good above someone’s hopes to make a buck.”

The Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award is typically presented to organizations or persons that have championed the preservation or restoration of old Hyde Park buildings. Ironically, the Hyde Park Historical Society presented this year’s award to MAC Property Management for the redevelopment of two historic properties, the Shoreland Hotel and Harper Theater. That same company purchased these graystones, and citing blight, decided not to renovate and are about to demolish them.

I just wonder what Mr. Despres would have thought……