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One place in Evanston inevitably cheers those who see it: the wall map made of colorful glass and tile fragments on the train embankment at Dempster Street. It is like a huge piece of jewelry – it is gorgeous. The Public Arts Committee should be proud.
Another building equally rich in decorative effect is that at 1710 Sherman Ave., just north of the intersection of Sherman and Church. The lower level of the old Varsity movie theatre was turned into retail shops, but the second floor remains the work of English architect John E.O. Pridmore.
Very different, but also among Evanston’s decorative gems, is the small wood frame house on the north side of Emerson, near Dewey. It must have been painted, and seems periodically updated, by amateurs – amateurs in the word’s true meaning of “those who love” – having a great deal of fun. In the judgment of most, its decor is probably considered graffiti.
If one stands near the center of Raymond Park and rotates a full circle, one can observe seven churches. One, beautifully remodeled on the interior, but left in its Romanesque purity on the exterior, has become the Chicago Music Institute.
In the center of these visual delights, enriched by Raymond Park’s grass and trees, however, is a concrete circle about 20 feet in diameter. The circle is filled with black gravel that spreads widely when touched by the lightest foot, and rain makes it doubly messy and thoroughly unattractive. Complaints to Parks and Recreation have fallen on deaf ears.
Equally frustrating is to register complaints with the management company of the residential building at 1420 Chicago Ave. about the need to fix the sinking sidewalk, plant some trees in the parkway and move the bicycles inside the property line. In reality, preventive repair would be much less costly than the lawsuit that will likely ensue if someone is injured in a fall on the uneven sidewalk.
One last complaint refers to one of the otherwise most pleasing structures in Evanston: the aptly named Colonnade Apartments building at 904-908 Hinman Ave. designed by the architectural firm of Thielbar and Fugard. The building stands on the northwest corner of Hinman and Main Street: Its colonnaded courtyard on the second floor is on the rooftops of street-level stores. Unfortunately a store on the ground-floor corner has a stylistically incorrect fascia over its entrance that is in bad taste and that should be replaced by a more appropriate one.