The Julia C. Lathrop Homes, a low-rise public housing complex constructed in 1938 and now slated for mixed-use development, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, according to a news release issued by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The action was approved Feb. 12 by the National Park Service.
Bounded by Damen, Diversey and Clybourn, Lathrop Homes was cited as “one of the largest and most architecturally elaborate of the 52 initial public housing projects in the United States constructed as part of the New Deal in the 1930s.” According to the IHPA, listing on the National Register places no obligations on private property owners but does make properties eligible for some financial incentives.
The complex consists of two-story brick houses and three- and four-story apartment buildings designed in a Prairie School, Arts and Crafts style, notable for the inclusion of small parks and kitchen gardens. Preservationists have long fought to save Lathrop Homes from demolition; of 925 housing units, mere dozens are currently occupied.
In November 2011, the Chicago Housing Authority awarded a redevelopment contract to a top-tier team with expertise in development, architecture, preservation, and sustainability to re-imagine the complex. The Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin reports that this design team is preparing to make presentations to the community within the next few weeks.