Race to save Chicago history: Austin coach house dates back to the 1800s

A Chicago homeowner is in a battle against time to save what historians believe is the oldest home in the Austin neighborhood from demolition by the city.

Chicago preservationists believe the coach house on the West Side dates back to the 1860s or 70s, which means it was built at a time when Austin was not even yet part of Chicago.

The coach house is located in the 700 block of North Lotus Avenue.


The city is concerned the structure is unstable and unsafe, and that is why they are in the process of getting a demolition permit.

Meanwhile, the homeowner – Linda Culver – called in experts to assess what she knew was a special find – and she was right.

"This style of architecture was even popular during the Civil War during Abraham Lincoln's presidency," said Ward Miller, Executive Director of Preservation Chicago. "We know that it's in disrepair. But buildings that are in disrepair can be repaired with the right steward."

The homeowner is working to make the necessary repairs.

The city said the next hearing on the demolition is scheduled for the end of the month. Then, it will be up to a judge to determine if the coach house gets torn down.