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Berwyn seeks national status for area with many bungalows

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 12:23 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Shaw Media file photo)
A stretch of Chicago-style bungalows in Berwyn.

BERWYN – Berwyn is on the prowl to find a firm that will determine if the city has a case for being put on the National Historic Register for its wealth of Chicago-style bungalows.

A request for qualifications was published by the village to seek qualified consultants to develop a National Register application for an area bordered by Cermak Road to the north and 26th Street to the south.

The city was pledged a $3,235 grant on Aug. 31, 2012, by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) to cover costs. Assistant City Administrator Evan Summers said being on the register could be a boost for Berwyn's image and draw attention to the community.

"First and foremost, it will put us on the map," Summers said. "We have such a great collection of Chicago-style bungalows that we would be a destination for both future residents and architectural aficionados. Secondly, there are some federal tax benefits for those who reinvest in their historic property."

The consulting firm awarded the contract will do a complete inventory of the bungalows to determine the location or area with the highest concentration of bungalows. There are other areas in town that may qualify, based on the number of homes.

There are some entire communities, such as Riverside, that are listed on the National Historic Register. Riverside, designed by landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, gained historical status in 1970, "as a designed landscape that fully captures the interplay of a holistic, forward thinking design philosophy with the functional necessities of a residential community," according to the register.

The historical status can also carry with it certain restrictions for owners of property deemed historical, and could impact how that property is maintained. Summers said that has been considered.

"We worked very closely with the Berwyn City of Homes organization to ensure this will be a beneficial program for Berwyn residents," Summers said. "In no way do we want to encroach on their property rights."

Berwyn has partnered with its own, Berwyn City of Homes, Inc., a nonprofit corporation dedicated to promoting the preservation, redevelopment, adaptive reuse and continued viability of Berwyn’s historic housing stock. It also seeks to make Berwyn the primary destination in the Chicago area for families and individuals "seeking an affordable, walkable, location-efficient and transit orientated community," according to the organization's website.

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