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.