Saturday, February 21, 2015

Jennie & James Foley Building, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Jennie & James Foley Building (1889) Patrick J. Killeen, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

There are some of us out there who look at a building like the Foley and think, "too bad   they can't build 'em like this anymore." Is it nostalgia, or just admiration for fine craftsmanship and great design? And if you consider that at the time, 1889, the Foley was not atypical, and just one, in a cast of thousands of other similar looking structures all over the city, it makes it all seem even more remarkable.

  [Jennie & James Foley Building, 626-28 S. Racine Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Foleys were Jennie and James, who selected architect Patrick Killeen to design their income producing property in an area filled with fellow Irish immigrants. From approximately 1860, up until around 1915, the neighborhood around Racine and Harrison Street was home to one of the largest Irish enclaves in Chicago. As the original settlers moved further west, they were replaced by a growing Italian immigrant population, and by 1930, the area was part and parcel of Chicago's soon to be identified Little Italy.

  [Jennie & James Foley Building, national Register of Historic Places, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

This was how Victor Arrigo and his extended family came to live in the Foley building.   Arrigo was a Sicilian immigrant, who became an attorney, and eventually the Illinois State Representative for this Near West Side district. Arrigo was also a prominent activist in the Italian-Amercian community, and was a leader in the fight to keep as much of Little Italy intact during the destruction of the neighborhood's housing stock, to make way for the new University of Illinois campus. The huge urban renewal project's field office was located in the former restaurant space once managed by Augie Arrigo, in the building's corner storefront at 628 S. Racine. Residents often came to the office to plead their case, not wanting to move, not seeing their neighborhood as blighted, and hoping for a reprieve. Some won, some didn't, and the school got built.
Although there are a few Italian-Americans still living in the neighborhood, Little Italy   exists today as a brand, primarily for restaurant owners marketing their Italian fare with a nostalgic connection to the old neighborhood.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.