To the editor:

Regarding David R. Murray’s February 1 cover story on the house at 836 N. Paulina in which he describes my “betrayal” of him, Mr. Murray never identified himself to me as a journalist in our numerous conversations, nor that he was working on an article for publication.

From our first discussions I indicated to him that I doubted that the building had sufficient integrity to meet the landmark criteria due to all the changes to the building. However, I did, as any member of the public might expect from a civil servant, direct Mr. Murray on how to do research so that he could put his best case forward before the landmarks commission. Yes, the landmark criteria do set a certain standard of architectural quality and historic significance, but I’d hardly describe them as “notoriously tough,” with some 4,500 properties in Chicago designated as landmarks individually or as part of a district.

As an architectural historian myself, of course I empathized with the concern Mr. Murray and others expressed for the history of the house and wished them well in their efforts. (The Department of Planning and Development continues to work with Alderman Jesse Granato and community members to explore other possible options to save the house.) But ultimately my responsibility is to render to the landmarks commission my best professional opinions.

Sincerely yours,

Terry Tatum

Director of Research

Landmarks Division