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Extreme Makeover, North Lawndale Style





ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition goes back to the city in tonight's (Sunday, January 14th) installment on the rehab of a North Lawndale home.

 -by Lynn Becker








A house on Washtenaw in Chicago's North Lawndale community is the subject of Extreme Makeover Chicago Edition beforetonight's installment of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which airs at 7 P.M. CST, Sunday night, January 14th. (PR alert: most of this article - and the photographs - were drawn directly from various press materials, but that doesn't stop it from being a good story.)

After living over eight years in their grandmother's attic, Geno and Melinda Noyola sought to buy a house for their family of six children, and found one nearby. Outside, it was a handsome home, but they soon found that the house was gravely affected with the effects of age and neglect, lead paint, defective plumbing, dangerous wiring, asbestos, and unpleasant infestations.

Extreme Makeover took on the Noyola's challenge in its usual fashion, shipping the family off to Disney World while hundreds of Extreme Makeover Chicago Edition volunteersvolunteers totally gutted and rebuilt the house in just one week. Makeover teamed up locally with Harris Bank and with Chicago construction firm Norcon, Inc., whose projects include the Dakota Condominiums in Wrigleyville for Hartshorne+Plunkard, Ltd, a new fire station in Riverwoods, and a number of showroom buildouts in the Merchandise Mart. The architect for the project was McBridge, Kelley Baurer, whose projects include the recent renovation of the century-old St. Josaphet Church at Southport and Belden.

The Noyola project was completed in 108 hours and 20 minutes, utilizing hundreds of volunteers. (Why does the photo to the right remind me of the Cooker Sketch on Monty Python?) On Tuesday, October 31st, host Ty Pennington brought his Extreme Makeover Chicago Edition gutted interiorcamera crew to record the family learning about their selection. The real work didn't begin until Thursday, when the existing interiors were gutted. On Friday, reconstruction began. 145 floor trusses were installed, and the crew went through 5,000 Chicago Common recycled bricks, 5,000 square feet of plywood and 800 pounds of sheet metal. A range of contractors (see the list here) installed all-new electrical, HVAC, plumbing and insulation. The roof was replaced, and front facade refaced with 3,000 of those recycled bricks. On Saturday, 45 painters went through 180 gallons in 32 colors, 49 flooring installers did their work in cork, carpet, slate, rubber and bamboo. 300 electrical outlets were installed (are the Noyolas running a server farm?), as well as 150 cabinets (no, maybe a Self-Store Warehouse). Sunday a carport and landscaping were added.

Members of the construction trades played a highly visible roles in the project. Chicago - still - is a big union town, and Geno Noyola is, himself, a carpenter. The Extreme Makeover Chicago Edition Chicago Symphony Orchestra string ensembleTribune's Music Critic John von Rhein had a story yesterday on how an ensemble of eight Chicago Symphony Orchestra string players serenaded the project's laborers as they worked. All six of the Noyola children have learned to play the violin.

On Monday, the Noyola's were returned from the land of the rodent to be introduced to their new home, but I guess that's what ABC is hoping we'll all tune in to see tonight.

Yes, it's all a bit of reality TV extravaganza. It can't be replicated in day-to-day life, Extreme Makeover Chicago Edition after
but you have to wonder whether, on a more realistically populated scale, it might still offer up some possible tactics in Chicago's perpetual battle to create affordable housing.

North Lawndale is a historic Chicago neighborhood that was once the largest Jewish community in the city, home to both Benny Goodman and the young Golda Meir and the home to Sears, Roebuck, and in the 1960's was an equally vibrant black Extreme Makeover Chicago Edition move-in dayneighborhood that was home to Martin Luther King, Jr. during his campaign in Chicago, that burst into flames during the riots that followed King's 1968 assassination. Its diminished but still plentiful stock of elegant Greystone houses were the subject of a project by the City Design Center of the University of Illinois at Chicago to assist in their restoration and revival.


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© Copyright 2007 Lynn Becker All rights reserved.

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