Landmark recommendation for Edgewater's Riviera Motor Sales Building

June 3, 2010

Peter Strazzabosco    312.744.9267

The finest surviving car sales and service building dating from the heyday of Edgewater's "automobile row" received preliminary recommendation today as a City of Chicago landmark.

Built by car dealers Isadore and Isaac Burnstine, the Riviera Motor Sales Company Building at 5948-60 N. Broadway is a significant example of the auto-oriented structures that developed along the street in the 1920s, according to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, which recommends landmark designations to the Chicago City Council.

"While the Riviera was built to display cars as ‘objects of art,’ the building itself is a highly stylized and remarkably intact representation of the auto sales and service facilities that tended to congregate along major neighborhood arterials like Broadway," said Commission Chairman David Mosena.

Designed by architect R. Bernard Kurzon and completed in 1926, the Riviera's intricate terra cotta and brick facades, Classical- and Gothic-style entrances, and Mediterranean-inspired interiors provide a visually stunning backdrop to the car sales and services that took place in its two showrooms. Leaded glass windows, grand staircases, and an open mezzanine further distinguish the building's association with the surge of inexpensive and reliable auto sales in the 1920s, according to the commission.

Edgewater's automobile row, home to more than 30 car dealers by 1929, was one of the city's largest neighborhood auto sales and service districts. The city's first and largest automobile row is "Motor Row" along South Michigan Avenue, designated as a Chicago landmark district in 2000.

The Riviera housed the Burnstine family's Chrysler dealership until at least 1937. It is currently occupied by Manufacturers Bank. The upper two floors remain in use as rental apartments.

The commission's preliminary recommendation, involving the building's exterior elevations and two showroom interiors, starts the formal consideration process required for possible designation as an official city landmark. The process will include additional research and a public hearing prior to a potential final commission recommendation and votes by the City Council Committee on Historical Landmarks and the full City Council.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks is a 10-member board responsible for recommending properties for possible landmark designation. Established in 1968, the board also reviews proposed work affecting designated landmarks and landmark districts. Staff services are provided by the Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Zoning and Land Use Planning.