Landmark status doesn’t necessarily save a building from the dreaded wrecking ball, Chicago preservationists and then-Mayor Richard J. Daley learned during the fight to save the Garrick Theater Building in the 1960s.
Built in 1892 and later declared an official city landmark, the Garrick was a 17-story building designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan of the firm Adler & Sullivan. The movie house was a prominent fixture in the Loop but it eventually fell into disrepair and the owners applied for a wrecking permit, deciding that a parking garage would be more useful in the space.
“Preservationists were outraged. What good was landmark status if a building could be torn down so easily?” John R. Schmidt reports for WBEZ.
Although the Garrick was eventually torn down—aside from a small bit of the façade now integrated into the Second City Theatre Building—the high-profile battle waged over the building opened the flood gates for Chicago preservation. Following the fight to save the Garrick, the city amended its landmark preservation ordinance and the wrecking ball got a little bit weaker.