On December 8, Christie’s is auctioning off 5 leaded glass Prairie School windows by George Washington Maher from the Kenilworth Club, Maher’s lovely 1906 building in the heart of what appears to be Chicago’s poorest suburb, Kenilworth. A year ago, Kenilworth defeated an attempt to list the historic community on the National Register of Historic Places, even though that designation has NO REGULATION over private owners. Last November, Kenilworth demonstrated a poverty of knowledge. This year, it is just plain poverty. The club decided – without comment – to sell off five windows for an estimated $20,000-$30,000 dollars. In the old days, that wouldn’t even buy you a bathroom upgrade in Kenilworth.
Apparently, the windows are extras stored in the basement, so none will be removed from the main building – although this information was NOT offered up by the club. Even so, this limits their options should a baseball game break out nearby. And that amount of money can’t buy the club very much time – you won’t keep the building going for very long at all by selling off its assets.
Wait! I’ve got it! It all makes sense now – they didn’t want National Register designation because they need a federal bailout for the Kenilworth Club and they don’t want to limit the federal government’s options for what it can do with the property! (Nice try, Vince, but if the feds were going to buy the club they would probably end up going through Section 106 anyway (Ed.))
November 17 update: According to a 2001 art glass conservation plan, some of the windows in storage were once installed in the building and moved during renovations. Moreover, it seems that restoration of the windows c.1980 involved extensive replacement of glass, which means that any of the windows in the building may contain replacement glass.