Help save Ronald Reagan’s childhood home from the wrecking ball

At the Reagan Library in Simi Valley
When he was a child, President Ronald Reagan’s family moved around frequently. Various small towns lay claim to being the Gipper’s original home — Dixon, Illinois, is the most prominent — but the Reagan family even spent a year in bustling Chicago.

According to Marathon Pundit, the University of Chicago owns the building where Reagan lived when he was four years old and plans to raze it, along with the rest of the properties in that block. The University has no immediate plans to redevelop the land, it seems, but the U of C Medical Center may use it as a parking lot for a while.

As Marathon Pundit explains,

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has denied landmark status for the home, which sits across the massive University of Chicago Medical Center’s New Pavilion. The apartment, which is at 832 E. 57th Street, is owned by the university.

President Barack Obama, despite his differences with the 40th president on policy and politics has expressed his admiration for his predecessor. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he said:

I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

As it happens, President Obama was once a faculty member at the University of Chicago. His wife, First Lady Michele Obama, is a former top administrator at the University of Chicago Medical Center. The two of them probably have some pull at that institution.

So it should come as no surprise that someone has posted a petition at the White House’s “We the People” web site that asks for the President’s help in preventing the destruction of Ronald Reagan’s childhood home on Chicago’s south side. The full text of the petition is:

We ask that the Obama Administration request the University of Chicago, where the president was once an instructor, not tear down the apartment building it owns at 832 E. 57th Street. The building is of historical significance–Ronald Reagan and his family lived there in 1915. Reagan, the only president to be born in Illinois, was the first president to live in Chicago.

Please take 30 seconds today to add your name to the petition to preserve this portion of the Reagan legacy. If it reaches 25,000 signatures by January 12, 2013, the White House will be obliged to respond to it.

@rick_sincere | | Rick Sincere’s posts

  • That’s a pretty marginal claim to historical status. Reagan is important for what he did as an adult, not for where he lived as a child. And he was only in this house for a year, and nothing particularly important happened there.

    I’d save my powder for a fight worth fighting.

  • I think Ronald Reagan would consider it progress, and private property rights do matter. Anytime you are even with earshot of a major institution, this is inevitable. I don’t see any reason at all to hoist the flag on this non-event. They can put up a plaque, “Ronald Reagan Lived Here.”

  • And by this logic, we would forever enshrine every building Obama and any other President ever set foot in. Rick, get serious.

    • Nathan Miller

      I couldn’t figure out if he was being serious or not….sadly I think he is.

  • Tootsie

    Heck, so many things were changed to “Reagan”, so what’s the difference if they call this little house “the Reagan House”? Some people even wanted him on that mountain out in the Dakotas, for pete’s sake!

  • I added my name to this petition and the Death Star one. 😀

  • Reagan has a legacy which is so distorted by the Conservative idolization of him that we may never have a clear picture of the real man behind the television set beyond the elaborate myth now concocted around him. Did he really rid the world of commie scum? Did destroy or save our economy? Check out my portrait of The Gipper and help me figure it out on my artist’s blog at with some Cold War Hollywood!

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