On Nov. 1, GazeboNews posted the Lake Forest Preservation Foundation’s position statement regarding the gift of Barat Woods by anonymous donors to Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart (click here to read the statement.) The following story provides a view from the opposite side of the issue–representatives of Woodlands, LaSalle Holdings and the anonymous donor that wants to donate the land to Woodlands on the condition that the city remove “Old Main” from its Historic District, thereby paving the way for the building’s demolition.
By Adrienne Fawcett
When it comes to Old Main on the Barat campus, many people are wondering: Is it historic … or isn’t it?
Last week the Lake Forest Historic Preservation Commission voted to deny a request to have the circa 1901 building removed from the city’s Historic District. The question next moves to City Council, which will address it in an upcoming meeting.
The present owner of Barat and the intended recipient of the land claim the building is not historic and that the property on East Westleigh Road no longer meets the criteria for historic designation. A 15-page “Statement of Intent” filed with the city provides numerous examples supporting its position.
Here’s brief summary of the statement regarding why Lasalle Holdings, Woodlands and the anonymous donors believe the city should let Old Main go:
- The nuns who built Old Main in 1901 were frugal. They used the design in three other U.S. locations, so the building is not unique nor is it limited to Lake Forest. Plus, historians describe Old Main as typical of the Colonial Revival style of architecture. Therefore, Old Main is not innovative, unique or rare (qualities needed for historic designation).
- Old Main doesn’t exemplify important planning, urban design techniques–it’s a big, drafty building with poor insulation and lighting.
- Old Main isn’t what it used to be due to years of neglect and vandalism.
- Old Main doesn’t exemplify the architecture of its neighborhood; it stands alone and is not part of a pattern of development.
- The nuns were members of the same religious order that Woodlands belongs to–and Woodlands wants to tear the building down.
Again–this is a brief summary of the Statement of Intent; for a full reading of the document and others please read the folliowing: