The rumors are flying fast and furious in the Windy City. While it has been confirmed that Former President Ronald Reagan’s childhood Chicago home was sold by the current owner and the building is scheduled for demolition, the reports that the space will be used as parking lot for the Obama Presidential Library remain unconfirmed.
Apparently President Reagan’s former homes have become a hot commodity as of late. His 4700 square foot home in California’s luxurious Pacific Palisades recently went on the market for a cool five million dollars. The home was a gift from General Electric in the 1950’s to thank Reagan for hosting the The General Electric Theater on CBS.
President Reagan lived in the Chicago apartment building at 832 E. 57th Street way back in 1915, and, judging by outside appearances, the building has seen better days. Reagan survived a near-fatal case of pneumonia when he lived in the building, but he maintained fond recollections of playing with his siblings in nearby Hyde Park.
In his memoirs, President Reagan recalled seeing horse drawn fire engines “come down the street at full gallop, the sight made me decide I wanted to be a fireman.” Obviously, his ambitions changed as he grew up, and eventually Ronald Reagan became the much loved and greatly respected 40th President. Republicans and Conservatives still remember Reagan as America’s greatest President and often cite his term in office as an example of Democracy in action.
Reagan’s home was sold to the University of Chicago, and legal approval was granted to demolish the building. Soon, the rumors about university’s plans for the property began to gain traction, due in part to the school’s extensive lobbying to become the location of the Obama Library.
Rumor mongers and critics of President Obama may be unhappy to learn that the University of Chicago is also building a major new hospital nearby, and they may need the property for that project. Even White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied the rumors, advising everyone to “stand down” with a post on his twitter page. For good measure, Carney added a sarcastic, “‘The report is false. Shocking, I know’ to his tweet.
The man who sold the property the University, Frank Grabowski, told reporters the Chicago official he spoke with about the sale was aware President Reagan lived in the building as a child but “wasn’t concerned and wanted to pull it down.”
One can only imagine what critics of President Obama will read into Mr. Grabowski’s comments. The word is already out on Conservative website’s that the Chicago Democratic machine wants the building torn down because it is a reminder of a successful Republican President. While most rational people may doubt that there is a deep dark conspiracy involved, many have expressed the view that Reagan was an important historical figure and his childhood home should be preserved.
For the moment, a last minute stay issued this month by the city of Chicago has the demolition on hold. Advocates of preserving the home for posterity have 90 days to convince the powers that be to change their minds. It has been suggested that The University of Chicago could make more money for their endowment fund if they renovated the building and turned it into a museum.
Once again, the wonderful spectacle of the American partisan politics is on display in all its glory in the Windy City. Hip Hip Huzzah!