Council confirms landmark status for Richard Nickel studio

June 9, 2010

Peter Strazzabosco    312.744.9267

The Lincoln Park studio of architectural photographer Richard Nickel, a pioneer in Chicago's preservation movement, was designated as an official landmark today by the City Council.

While working from 1969 to 1972 to convert the two-story structure at 1810 W. Cortland St. into his home and photography studio, Nickel used the building to warehouse architectural fragments that he saved from several now-demolished Chicago buildings.

"Through his photographs, the ornaments that he salvaged, and the public attention he brought to Chicago's architectural legacy, Richard Nickel was instrumental to the spirit of preservation we appreciate today," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. "His place in history, as well his studio, will be appropriately honored by this designation."

Nickel’s passionate but ultimately unsuccessful crusade to save Adler & Sullivan’s Garrick Theater in 1960 is generally regarded as one of the first grass-roots preservation efforts in Chicago, according to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, which recommended the landmark designation earlier this year.

By advocating to save large, downtown commercial buildings, Nickel pushed the historic preservation movement beyond its then-normal boundaries of commemorating public buildings and sites associated with important people or historic events.

A resident of suburban Park Ridge, Nickel's untimely death while salvaging architectural fragments from the Chicago Stock Exchange in April 1972 occurred before he could complete the building's restoration as his studio and home. The structure, built in 1889 and previously used as a bakery, is the only building Nickel ever owned. It is currently used as a single-family home.

The landmark designation protects the street-side elevation of the building from significant alternation or demolition.