George M Harvey House – arson, neglect or what?

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Did someone torch this Louis Sullivan-designed home at 600 W Stratford Place on Saturday afternoon? A demolition crew was scoping out the three-story George M Harvey House this morning, as Chicago Police arson investigators tried to determine the cause of the fire. It was the third Chicago building designed by the team of Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler to be destroyed by fire this year, according to RedEye. Earlier this year, the Wirt Dexter Building, at 630 S Wabash Ave, and Pilgrim Baptist Church, at 33rd Street and Indiana Ave, were destroyed by fire. Torches used in repairs have been blamed for both blazes according to the newspaper. The home at Stratford Place, which was completed in 1888 and originally rendered in the Craftsman and Picturesque styles, was also undergoing renovations.

It was Sullivan and Adler’s last frame home and the city was considering giving it landmark status, according to an interesting article by Lynn Becker, and a story by Preservation Chicago. The building’s owner had previously applied for a demolition permit, says Becker, noting that there is a significant amount of condo development going on in the street (see our post on 541 West Cornelia). Becker cites a Trib story which claims the woman had commissioned drawings for a condo development on the site. Do the dots connect, or is the problem more that this and other historic buildings have not been well-maintained, leaving them susceptible to fire? More photos after the jump.
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