A survey detailing the architecture and condition of buildings and residences in the Uptown neighborhood that is being financed by an anonymous donor should be complete later this summer, the Park Ridge Historic Preservation Commission was told at a recent meeting.
Margaret Guzek of Preservation Real Estate Advisors, who is conducting the survey, said the effort began in October and initially was to be finished in May, but then residents were asked to respond, lengthening the time frame. She said the donor does not want to be identified and the cost will not be disclosed.
"It's becoming bigger and better but takes more time," Guzek said.
Commission Chairwoman Judy Barclay said while she's excited about the survey, she can wait.
"I'm not in a big hurry even though I am," Barclay said. "I want it done so it knocks people's socks off."
Guzek said the survey is focused on the Uptown area because it is home to the most historically significant buildings in Park Ridge.
"They may not be the oldest, but they are the most significant," Guzek said. "A lot date from the 1920s and while most are commercial buildings, there are residential homes as well."
Guzek said the area includes four churches, Park Ridge Village Hall, the Park Ridge Library and the Pickwick Theater.
The survey will include photos of the properties and information like property and architectural description, address, the integrity of the building and whether or not it's eligible for local historic designation or the national register of historic buildings.
News articles related to buildings are being sought, as well as permits — which Park Ridge does not have for most homes built before 1970, according to Barclay.
"It's as if nothing existed before 1970," Barclay said, adding the commission has been told many records were lost during a fire, although when or where is not clear.
To help gather more information, Preservation Real Estate Advisors is expected to host a presentation for residents at the Iannelli Studios next month and also at the Park Ridge Public Library to ask for architectural plans, historic photographs, permit records and other items of historic value, Guzek said.
Also, the historic commission expects to ask residents who live in what are known as "the Douglas homes" to donate any historically significant information they have about their homes. The commission wants to give certificates and possibly grant landmark status to some in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, according to Commissioner Shel Newman.
The Douglas homes, described by Newman and Commissioner Paul Adlaf as "cookie-cutter Georgians" that are near Talcott Avenue and Home Street were built at the end of the war to accommodate a growing workforce at the Douglas Aircraft Plant at Higgins and Mannheim roads, which later became O'Hare International Airport.
Also at the meeting, the commission said the deadline for the poster contest for third-graders is Friday. The contest is on a "place in Park Ridge that is special to you" and will be judged by commission members, with three winners to be announced at the May 5 City Council meeting, Barclay said.
In addition, the commission said it is waiting to go over plans to renovate the Park Ridge Public Library. Barclay said the commission only looks at the outside structure of buildings and would be going over any plans "with a fine-tooth comb." She added that the commission hopes the 58-year-old library applies for landmark designation.
The city's landmark ordinance requires property owner consent for any landmark designation application. While the commission makes a recommendation for or against landmark designation, the City Council has final say.
In the case of the library, which is owned by the city, aldermen would have to consent to the landmark application as well as the official designation.
If designated as a landmark, alterations to the library — in most cases — would require the commission to issue a "certificate of appropriateness."
The library is looking to repair two windows and possibly install a vestibule, Barclay said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun