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  1. Art, if I can understand you, it seems you are criticizing the seller for trying to get the most it can for its property. Hmmm. How much of your own money are you willing to contribute towards restoration?

  2. People did hear that there was a bidder who wanted to save the structure, who spoke up at the meeting, to convert it to apts. for seniors, and followed the bid rules. At the meeting the agent for the seller said the bidder who spoke up at the meeting was not credible. That proposal is cataloged (Spectrum) and available at Special Collections, Lake Forest College. The person making the assessment of “not credible” did accept the bid that did not follow the bid criterion of saving the structure, and was substantially larger. Once again, a decision not to save the whole building puts more money in the hands of the seller, as did the sale in 2006, to DePaul (LF has its first art museum, $8 million, but at DePaul in Lincoln Park–the difference in a sale that would have saved the whole building and what Barat paid, it can plausibly be surmised.

  3. I have to agree with Pat and Elizabeth. Old Main has become a derelict eyesore. It no longer marks the South entrance to Lake Forest with beauty and grace. It looks like the opening set to a Stephen King movie. If the Preservationists feel so strongly about saving the structure, then perhaps they should raise the money to purchase the property and restore it. There are several once historic homes and building which have been torn down over the years, and subdivisions are now on them. This would not be the case for the demolition of Old Main. A school would continue to use the property, and would most likely turn what has become an eyesore, into a beautiful piece of property once again. I am a bit surprised that with all of the concern, nobody has addressed what will happen to the cemetery which is on the property. At least in the hands of the school, the RSCJs buried there could rest in peace.

  4. If one measures the value of our town in terms of economic metrics, there is only one response to the problem: tear it down. But for those of us who understand the immeasurable value in historic preservation, we see something far more critical than dollars at play. (If you do not understand that there are such things, then you are simply not persuadable.) As a realist, may I point out that the cost of most residential sq. footage in Lake Forest is greater than $300 (yes, even in this climate), if the estimated residential sq. footage is 200,000 x $300 the residential value is roughly $60,000,000. Combine that with the value of the surrounding land, $20 mil is an investment. Of course the market is terrible right now. Markets change, economies rise and fall, but buildings like this are forever gone when they are gone. And once the cultural, architectural, historical nature of the town is diminished, the intrinsic value of your property diminishes with it. As educational property, the city will have no tax revenue, so, even realists should see that TEAR IT DOWN is a short sighted, irreversible solution and Old Main (as well as LF) deserves better.

  5. It is unrealistic in this economic climate to conclude that the money for full restoration will ever become available. There is a wonderful offer on the floor to renew the property to the use for which it was originally intended. Is the town ready to provide the funding to secure the deteriorating building and keep it free from teenage party goers for the coming decades or isn’t it better to take advantage of an extremely unselfish and generous donor whose gift will enhance the neighborhood and town? I hope that the city will revoke the preservation status as it makes good sense for the town and its citizens.

  6. What this opinion fails to address is the simple fact the building, through long neglect, is falling down. Conservative estimates to repair and/or restore it when Robert Shaw owned it were over 20 million. I love the place; I went to school there. But LFPF and Historic Preservation can either become realistic and let it return to highest and best use as an educational institution property in the hands of its historic owners, without the building on it, or watch it, in this economic environment, continue to crumble behind plywood sheathing.

  7. Since the question of the historic and architectural significance of Old Main was raised by the petitioner at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting the day after this statement was approved, an article on the subject I wrote in 1997 for Barat’s alumni magazine is available from the Preservation Foundation website that addresses these points: http://www.lfpf.org/baratcollege/pdfs/ColonialRevival.pdf . More on Barat’s architect and history is at: http://www.lfpf.org/baratcollege/index.htm .

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