When a landmark stands in the way of transit modernization, the landmark moves

Aug. 3, 2021
The CTA moved a 127-year-old National Historic Landmark 30 feet for the Red and Purple Modernization Project.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is known for moving large amounts of people, but it can now add “mover of buildings” to its list of credentials.

The building CTA moved is no standard structure; it’s a 127-year-old Vautravers residential building in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood and is a National Historic Landmark.

The building’s move 30 feet to the west is required so CTA can remove a curve in the tracks that slows train traffic. The structures north of Belmont station will be completely reconstructed and straightened as part of the CTA Red and Purple Modernization Project that provide riders with a faster commute on modern infrastructure.

However, in a historic coincidence, the curve in the track exists because of the building, or, more specifically, because of the building’s original owner.

The Vautravers building was constructed by the family of the same name between 1891 and 1894 and is part of a series of homes that made up the historic Newport Avenue District. The building stood in the way of the Red Line’s construction in the early 1900s and when the Vautravers family refused to sell, the rail line was built around the building.

CTA, along with contractors Walsh-Fluor and Wolfe Building and House Movers, will move the house over a one- to two-day timeframe and once the building is in its new location, it will be temporarily secured with a new concrete foundation poured and temporary shoring in the basement installed.

CTA explains the analyses of the feasibility of moving the Vautravers building was completed in close coordination with the Federal Transit Administration, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Historic Preservation Division of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.