History buffs Daniel Pogorzelski and Jacob Kaplan got permission to enter a space previously occupied by former Chicago alderman. They discovered that no one had ever cleaned the space out after the alderman died:
Longtime city clerk and former 35th Ward Ald. John Marcin, one of former Mayor Richard J. Daley’s closest political allies, had worked out of the building for years. There were rumors all of his stuff was still in there, virtually untouched since his death in 1984.
Pogorzelski and Kaplan, writers and editors for local history website Forgotten Chicago, tried for years to get ahold of the property owner, but they struck out each time.
It took awhile, but finally in 2014, with the help of Avondale Neighborhood Association President Liz Muscare, they got in.
And, much to their surprise, the rumors were true: Marcin’s office at 3534 W. Diversey Ave. had been left untouched. Old photos, campaign literature (some dating back to the 1930s when Marcin ran for congress), meticulously compiled scrapbooks, oil paintings and even neon signs were all sitting there, collecting dust.
Last week, Pogorzelski and Kaplan packed it all up in a U-Haul and delivered it to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Richard J. Daley Library. The two donated the collection in hopes of deepening Chicago’s understanding of local politics.
“There’s all of the appointment books during his time as city clerk, the people he met with. You can kinda see how the city operated at that time,” Kaplan said.
“It’s not just ephemera. It’s stuff he used as city clerk and alderman that people will find really informative.”
For years, I thought I was going to be an historian, even going so far as to take the GRE and meet with a few East Coast history departments during my last two years in college. This kind of documentary bonanza can make someone's career. I'm glad it's going to an organization that can use it.
Just one thing, though: who paid the rent on the building for 30 years?