Preservation Chicago has put out its 11th annual "Chicago Seven" list of the city's most acutely threatened architectural treasures, featuring properties large and small as well as the entire Lathrop Homes public housing project. We excerpted portions of each somber entry below. Be sad, get mad, or spring into action. The whole point is to sound the alarm. While there's no overlap with last year's list, that doesn't mean all those sites are out of the woods. In fact, Old Prentice and Cuneo hospitals have just about lost their fights. More details are available at the official site.
Century & Consumers Buildings, 202-220 S State.
Threat: "Commanding an imposing presence on the 200 block of South State Street, two historic terra cotta buildings, located at 202 and 220 South State Street respectively, could be lost to future redevelopment by the Federal Government. Listed on the Chicago's Most Threatened list only 2 years ago, these two buildings remain vacant and no reuse plans for either structure have been proposed... The irreparable damage that demolition of these historic buildings will have on South State Street cannot be underestimated. Their facades provide an important anchor for the existing street-wall. If demolished, not only will Chicago lose two important early Chicago School-influenced skyscrapers by two of the most important architecture firms [Holabird & Roche and Jenney, Mundie, and Jensen], it will also create a lifeless void that will suck the energy out of one of downtown's most vibrant intersections."
Hotel Guyon, 4000 W Washington.
Threat: "Originally part of an architecturally and culturally booming West Garfield Park community, the long and steady decline of the neighborhood has only further made the rehabilitation of this rare and magnificent Moorish Revival hotel more challenging. Beautifully constructed of red and cream brick with deep red terra cotta detailing, the Guyon Hotel's interior is in various states of decay, in contrast to the richness of its once-magnificent grand ballrooms and other interior spaces... In the last fifteen years the building has changed ownership a total of seven times, with no owner ever completing significant repairs to the structure. While the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, due mostly to Jimmy Carter's stay, the structure itself has no legal pro- tection as a local landmark."
St. James Church, 2936 S Wabash.
Threat: "Although the demolition of St. James Church appears to some to be the political will of the Archdiocese of Chicago, a coalition of St. James parishioners, preservationists and the faithful of many area Roman Catholic churches have formed "Friends of Historic St. James" and this new coalition is determined to save it from the wrecker's ball. With services moved into the adjoining church hall for the past few years because of deferred maintenance and the ongoing repairs to address code violations, coalition members have been reaching out to city officials to save the building... The Archdiocese of Chicago obtained a demolition permit in December 2012, on Christmas Eve."
Lathrop Homes, Clybourn & Diversey.
Threat: "Arguably, Julia Lathrop Homes is the best public housing development Chicago has ever built, representing a racially mixed, remarkably stable community for generations of Chicagoans. Beautifully sited along the Chicago River with a magnificent and mature landscape, the buildings are low-rise and gently ornamented, creating an intimate, humane atmosphere. But, after years of contentious community meetings, seemingly endless presentations and often fruitless discussions with the Chicago Housing Authority and the master development team, the redevelopment as currently proposed will still demolish almost half of the historic buildings, destroy much of the lush landscapes and commercialize and densify the site to a point beyond what the community is willing to accept."
Medic Building, 3223-3225 N Ashland.
Threat: "The Medic building, situated at the corner of Melrose and Ashland, is an extremely intact example of a Chicago building with art deco detailing... Many of the structures from this time have already been lost to new development and these losses have erased much of this retail and commercial history... In 2007, the area was rezoned after a request was made by Lakeview Collection, LLC to create a Planned Development on the site. The proposal had included retail, residential and park space and would have in- volved the destruction of the Medic Building, which would have been replaced by a bank and a loading dock. The project never moved forward due to the depressed economy; however Lakeview Collection did take steps to vacate all tenants from the premises."
Allstate Headquarters Building, 3245 W Arthington.
Threat: "Designed by the noteworthy architectural firm of Carr and Wright, the Allstate Headquarters Building is a rare example of immediate post-war modern high-rise construction in the city of Chicago. It was the first multi-story building constructed in Chicago since the beginning of WW II and its unique elements make it a clear candidate for reuse and preservation... The building has stood vacant and deteriorating for a number of years. While the rest of the Sears complex has seen significant redevelopment efforts, including the award-winning Power House High reuse in the former powerhouse, Allstate has been neglected. If a reuse for this important building is not found soon, demolition may be the next step."
State Bank of Clearing, 5235 W 63rd.
Threat: "Standing as an important early work of world-renowned Chicago architect Harry Weese, the State Bank of Clearing is unique in the realm of bank building design... Vacant for years, the building is currently for sale and awaiting a reuse. However, demolition is a possibility for the site... The drive-up structure and other elements are deteriorating and it is in danger of demolition by neglect."