Conserving Charnley-Persky House

By SAH News
| Dec 04, 2018

Charnley-Persky House at twilight, November 2018.

In 2017, when SAH received the completed Conservation Management Plan for Charnley-Persky House, we decided to tackle some of the highest-priority items on the list of potential repairs and restorations. We’re pleased to announce that one of them has been completed. In November 2018, masonry specialists from Central Building & Preservation in Chicago, tuckpointed the four chimneys on the roof of Charnley-Persky House. Although the rest of the house had been tuckpointed in 2003, to the best of our knowledge the chimneys at the roof level had not been tuckpointed since the 1980s. As a result, water was infiltrating through the mortar and causing damage to interior plaster walls on the third floor of the house. The work was specified and supervised by Harboe Architects who also authored the Conservation Management Plan. The project was funded by a grant from the Landmarks Illinois Heritage Preservation Fund and proceeds from annual SAH Galas from 2010 to the present.

Newly repointed chimney at Charnley-Persky House, 2018. (Gunny Harboe)

Future bricks and mortar projects include repairing a low spot in the roof where rainwater pools and seeps into the house under the flashing around the atrium skylight, and replacing the antiquated HVAC system in the house. For Giving Tuesday on November 27th, 41 generous donors contributed $7,370 to help us purchase and install a pair of energy-efficient boilers that would replace the 1970s-era boiler that is unreliable in Chicago winters. Every donation was matched 1:1 by two challenge grants from Charnley-Persky House Board members Cynthia (and Ben) Weese and Laurie (and Mike) Petersen so the grand total raised to replace the boiler is $14,740. We extend our sincere thanks the Weeses and Petersens for issuing the challenge and to all who contributed to the Giving Tuesday campaign.

Finally, also in November 2018 SAH completed a beautification project to light Charnley-Persky House at night. Funded by a generous grant from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, the improvements focused on installing a new LED lighting system that would be controlled through a central wireless hub that would allow SAH staff to control the lights remotely through a smart phone application. By installing new interior light fixtures in the main rooms of the house and exterior fixtures on and underneath the balcony, Charnley-Persky House now has a lighted façade at night and lighted rooms that create a warm lantern effect. The dual goal was to enhance the features of the house as only night-time lighting could and to contribute to the beauty of the nighttime streetscape in this historic Gold Coast neighborhood. 

Parkway garden in front of Charnley-Persky House, June 2017.

In a parallel effort, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Trust also funded landscaping of the two parkway areas in front of Charnley-Persky House. Since summer 2016 the small parkway gardens have featured shade-friendly plants and flowers that, like the lighting, enhance both the appearance of the house and contribute to the beauty of the streetscape. We are extremely grateful to neighbor Richard H. Driehaus who recognized that Charnley-Persky House could and should enhance its historic surroundings.

1 comment

Leave a comment
  1. Jan Kristin Arnesen | Aug 18, 2021

    Dear SAH, 

    I am gratified to see all the improvements to the Charnley House. My father Richard Arnesen and several of our family members lived in Charnley House in the 1970s. My father had a small studio in the second floor « sunroom » where he created his woodworking and assemblage projects. He rented the house from the owner at the time, and i visited several times. 
    Fond memories…

    J. Kristin Arnesen

    Leave a comment