Easement Highlight: Jefferson Ice House, Logan Square

(Pictured: Andrew Schneider (left) and David Berkey in front of the Jefferson Ice House in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. The two donated a preservation easement to Landmarks Illinois, which protects the historic property in perpetuity.)

May 19, 2023

By Suzanne Germann, Director of Reinvestment

(This article originally appeared in our May 2023 edition of our print newsletter, The Arch. Read The Arch here. )

The Jefferson Ice House is one of the most prominent small residential buildings in Logan Square’s landmark district. Originally constructed in 1908 for the family of John E. Rustman, owners of the ice company, it was designed by John Ahlschlager in an eclectic style with Gothic, Georgian and Arts & Crafts detailing.

It’s well known in the northwest side Chicago neighborhood for its commanding presence on Logan Boulevard and its oversized lot and side yard. Although the house is a contributing structure to the City of Chicago’s Logan Square Historic District, the sideyard was not protected from future development. This lack of protection was the impetus for the donation of a preservation easement to Landmarks Illinois. The easement will not only protect the exterior of the house but also preserve the side yard as open space.

David Berkey and Andrew Schneider purchased the property together from the former owner, a leader in the local preservation community, in 2021. Schneider, who became president of Logan Square Preservation in 2011, previously lived in the building’s second-floor apartment with his family.

“This property is a landmark in every sense of the word,” Schneider said. “So many neighbors have told me over the years that this structure and yard were aspirational for them. Our goal was to preserve that green space for future generations of Chicagoans.”

The Jefferson Ice House property is located on a triple-sized lot. There is no doubt that the side yard on Logan Boulevard was original to the property and meant to remain open. An original wrought iron fence encloses the property, the first residence to be constructed on the block.

“I’ve lived nearby for over 25 years,” Berkey said. “I’ve loved this yard for all of that time and wanted to take action to protect it, so I was excited that we could step up. Whenever we’re gardening someone always stops to say how much they appreciate the yard. We knew we would never build on it but we wanted to make sure that future generations could enjoy it, too.”

In 2021, the controversial loss of a side yard within Chicago’s Wicker Park historic district for a large addition to a historic property prompted Schneider and Berkey to take action to ensure the protection of the Jefferson Ice House.

Although Landmarks Illinois’ Easement Program ensures the protection of close to 550 historic properties throughout the state, this is the only easement that also protects the original side yard ensuring the community will benefit from the open green space in perpetuity.

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