Road to Ruin in Chicago Heights


1848 Euclid Avenue was supposed to have a brighter future.

Most sources point to original construction of the building sometime in the last decade of the 1800s, shortly after the Chicago Heights Land Association platted the residential core of the south suburban city and incorporated with plentiful railway access and planned industrial development nearby. This two-unit building survived several stages of growth in Chicago Heights, during which time many nearby homes were replaced with dwellings more in keeping with the styles and building techniques of new decades. It also survived the steep depopulation of its surroundings following the collapse of U.S. domestic steel production from the 1970s onward, and the compounding municipal difficulties that followed as the city shrank from 40,000 residents in 1970 to 27,000 in 2020, losing nearly all of its higher-income inhabitants along the way.

Through all of that, this building stood. It remained occupied until the mid-2010s. Even after delinquent property taxes added up and were sold by the county in 2018, the home was in tired but still salvageable shape. By 2021, the property (now vacant for a few years) was transferred to city ownership following a court case over liens placed for uncut grass and other code violations that are often targeted against unmaintained properties. The government of Chicago Heights and the Chicago Heights Economic Development Corporation had an interested party lined up through their recently launched Abandoned Property Acquisition Program (APAP), which offloads city-owned properties for cheap or for free (with a clean title) to people who have plans and adequate funds for renovation.

So if APAP was supposed to save this home, how did it end up in the nearly unsalvageable state you see before you now?



The person who the city transferred ownership to in 2021, who underwent the application process for APAP and was approved, was essentially a fraud as far as intended outcomes of the program are concerned. Leader of a small Moorish Science Temple branch, she has a long history of financial malfeasance and property abandonment in Chicago proper, a history complicated by a form of the earnestly held sovereign citizen beliefs espoused by many Moorish Science Temple adherents. The branch she leads has at different points attempted to defraud the IRS and to file nonconforming self-styled legal documents with local government offices in order to take possession of properties not legally theirs. The exact contents of her application for Chicago Heights’ APAP property transfer incentive are not publicly available, but based on past activity, it’s likely that she overstated her intentions for the property or her available money to perform work on the building.

In the first year after that new owner took possession of the building on Euclid, the structure became totally abandoned to a degree not previously seen under others’ stewardship. A major fire broke out inside the unmaintained structure on September 3rd, 2022, destroying a large portion of the home’s upper floors and roof. It is possible that people had sought shelter in the empty building and turned to unsafe means of heating its rooms, a relatively common cause of fires in otherwise vacant structures. In the time since, it has been left entirely unsecured and open to the elements. Due to the City of Chicago Heights’ poor due diligence when reviewing the APAP ownership transfer application, the property is also once again delinquent on taxes - the sovereign citizen offshoots of the Moorish Science Temple often believe they are not obligated to the rules set out by legal jurisdictions that impact them, ultimately calling back to a shadow system based on the holy authority of the prophet Noble Drew Ali.


It appears that the days of 1848 Euclid Avenue are numbered; in the state that it’s currently in, it is likely headed for city-ordered demolition soon. The Chicago Heights APAP program has seen several better outcomes than this one from other program sales, but this dire situation on Euclid might be cause to tighten up the standards used to assess program applicants’ intentions and financial means.