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October 5, 2019 @ 11:00 am
LOST HOUSES OF LYNDALE STREET
BY MATT BERGSTROM
Like many residential streets in Chicago, the two long blocks of Lyndale between California Avenue and Kedzie Boulevard are lined with a mix of ordinary frame houses and apartments. Few of the buildings could be considered architecturally significant or worthy of historic preservation; no famous Chicagoans once lived here. The history of the street since the 1880s is little recorded except in the built environment of its humble houses, which represent the hard-won rewards of homeownership for generations of working class immigrants who passed their property on to their children or sold to the next wave of immigrants to arrive.
Now, many families are selling their houses to developers. Construction crews topple the old houses in a day, scrape the ground clean and erect cinder-block condominium towers which relate little to the story of the street. To a passerby, these boxy dwellings quickly become the new familiar backdrop and there are few visible remnants of the history of the previous houses and residents of this place.
Lost Houses of Lyndale is a two-fold project to create portraits of these missing houses in careful pen-and-ink drawings and to discover and document stories of the families and individuals who lived their lives in these homes over the past 130 years. Through archival research of property records and census data as well as oral histories of older neighbors, the project is an ongoing attempt to record and re-tell local street history in the face of the discontinuity of city-wide redevelopment. The house portraits are framed in scraps of wood scavenged from the demolished buildings as a physical memory of the buildings, and miniature wooden models of the houses contain relics, toys, and photos left behind by former residents.