A so-called open meeting for “community input” on the renovation of 5757 South University Avenue was held at Ida Noyes Hall at noon on October 6. Strangely, the Maroon’s coverage (“5757 Building Meeting Tempers Concerns,” October 8) of this little-publicized event gave readers the erroneous impression that the fears of concerned people were assuaged and placated by the statements of University administrators and the chosen architect for conversion, Ann Beha of Massachusetts.
Contrary to the Maroon’s review of the meeting, those of us from the community and preservation groups that attended were sorely disillusioned by the proceedings, because we were informed that the decision had already been made for removal of most of the precious windows. We were later told that this was really a private property matter, and that both the U of C and CTS are at liberty to do whatever they want with the property. We believe that this decision should be overturned, lest a world-class landmark be destroyed. Removal of the chapel features will violate the integrity of the structure and devalue the facility. The U of C and CTS need to get together and jointly agree to preserve these magnificent places intact. The chapels were donated as memorials. The Graham Taylor Chapel commemorates an important historic figure in Chicago history, who was involved in the beginnings of what became the School of Social Service Administration and the early social welfare movement in Chicago. He worked closely with Jane Addams. How shocking that these gifts are being broken up and dispersed after just a few decades. The U of C and CTS seem to treat such gifts as temporary assets, to be trashed as they see fit. Let this be fair warning to any and all aspiring donors that their gifts may suffer the same fate.
We call on the U of C and CTS to reconsider their decision. We ask that faculty and students learn more about this historic preservation issue and join us in speaking out. Graham Taylor’s grandson and granddaughter have already protested to the University and CTS about this disrespect for their grandfather’s legacy, and the artistic value for both chapels. Please join us.
Charles G. Staples (S.S.A. ‘61)