Local artists and others gathered for a Painting for Preservation
event at 53 Laurel Street on April 28 to bring attention to a building at risk of demolition. The attractive building dates to ca. 1907 and is a carefully designed brick and stone double residence. Laurel Street is an intact street with lively and responsible residents, looked just off the Michigan Street corridor.
Painting for Preservation seeks to bring together artists of all media in support of historic distressed properties and communities. Artwork created on-site related to the location is seen as a means of raising positive awareness of the space and/or structure.
Painting for Preservation's goals are:
1. Raise awareness of at-risk, distressed and under-utilized locations and their neighborhoods
2. Create a record of historically rich locations through art
3. Create a community of artists invested in the urban landscape
4. Bring exposure and provide assistance to artists interested in documenting at-risk historic neighborhoods while also improving the quality of life in those same neighborhoods.
5. Involve distressed communities in sharing the beauty in their backyard.
Unlike blocks to the east, this block between Main Street and Michigan Avenue is predominately intact (see Steel's post here
) with few vacant lots and most of the residences are well maintained. 53 Laurel and the brick home to its east are vacant but appear to be in decent shape.
The property was unlocked for exploration and inspection. The building is bank-owned through a foreclosure. Vandals have stripped the plumping and squatters have made a mess, but the inside is relatively intact including fireplace nooks, baseboards and other woodwork. There was no apparent water damage as the building's roof appears to be fairly new. Exterior masonry was in good shape.
Two dozen artists and a large number of observers were a warmly welcomed by neighbors, many of whom thought the exercise was an art class in action. Participants chatted with everyone that stopped by, explaining the purpose and importance of the property. One gentleman (above) said he dabbled with drawing, thought the event was a great idea, and promised to show up at a future event. Though beat up today and a nuisance, residents agreed the building should be saved if possible.
In some promising news, a potential buyer with plans to rehab it has submitted an offer to the bank for 53 Laurel. The status of that offer is unknown.
This Saturday, May 19, the Painting for Preservation crew will be at the historic Hook & Ladder #8, 174 Chicago Street in the Old First Ward between 9:30am and 1pm. This building has an owner that is making minor repairs and is a location that can only get better near the new RiverFest Park.
Bottom photos by Dana Saylor and Meagan Baco