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10 historic reuse projects honored with city’s ‘excellence in preservation’ awards

Recipients include the Loop’s Quincy L stop and a Logan Square church-to-apartments conversion

A patio with outdoor lounge furniture under a large sign reading “Ebony and Jet.”
The rooftop deck at the Johnson Publishing Building at 820 South Michigan.
Photo by Darris Lee Harris, courtesy of 3L Real Estate

The renovation of Bronzeville’s historic Bee Branch Library and the conversion of the Loop’s Johnson Publishing Building from offices into rental apartments were among ten projects to receive an Excellence in Preservation Award from the city’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Monday.

Established in 1999, the annual awards highlight projects based on “extraordinary design, craftsmanship, and community impact.” To be eligible, properties must be a recognized Chicago landmark or situated within a landmark district. Here are the ten notable preservation projects that earned recognition.

Quincy CTA station

Dating back to 1897, the Loop’s Quincy L stop was recognized for a recent modernization program that brought full accessibility to the downtown station without sacrificing its design by architect A.M. Hedley. The $18.2 million undertaking added two new elevators, updated lighting, tiled flooring, stairs, and doors. “This project serves as proof that a structure can be adapted to accommodate everyone while still retaining its historic character and integrity,” wrote the Chicago Department of Planning and Development in a statement.

Johnson Publishing Building

Once home to Chicago-based Ebony and Jet magazines, South Michigan Avenue’s Johnson Publishing Building reopened this year as 150 apartment units. The 11-story landmark building was designed by John Moutoussamy in 1971 and remains Chicago’s only high-rise designed by an African American architect. Developer 3L Real Estate completed extensive interior and exterior work and added a new amenity deck below the buildings’ iconic “Ebony JP Jet” rooftop signage.

A three-story building with white terracotta panels and detailing. The lower level has a black and gold storefront.
The Chicago Bee Library Branch.
Photo courtesy Carmen Troesser

Chicago Bee Branch Library

Located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood at 3647 S. State Street, the Chicago Bee Branch Library was designed by architect Z. Erol Smith and completed in 1931. The building originally housed the Chicago Bee newspaper and was later converted into a branch of the Chicago Public Library. A recent $2.32 million renovation, overseen by the city’s Department of Fleet & Facility Management, restored the structure’s storefronts to their original historic appearance as well as carried out extensive repairs to the terracotta Art Deco exterior.

Lofts on Arthington

In North Lawndale, nonprofit developer Mercy Housing Lakefront earned recognition for restoring a 111-year-old former Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog printing facility into 181 units of affordable housing. The project at 3301 W. Arthington Street also earned a Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award earlier this year.

A two-story commercial building with a brick facade and stone details. It has ground-floor retail space and a stone sign reading “The Howard Building.”
The Howard Building at 1000 W. Randolph Street.
Photo by Sterling Bay, courtesy Chicago DPD

Howard Building

In Fulton Market, the 1920s-era Howard Building at 1000 W. Randolph Street has been converted into new retail space by prolific West Loop developer Sterling Bay. The $2.1 million restoration repaired the structure’s masonry facade, restored bricked-over window openings, and installed new glass to match the historic windows. The Howard Building is a contributing property within the FultonRandolph Market District, and its rehab “ serves as a gold standard for the rest of the district,” according to the DPD.

Episcopal Church of the Advent

Designed by architect Elmer C. Jensen in the mid-1900s and closed in 2016, Logan Square’s Episcopal Church of the Advent reopened this year as nine apartment units. Although the landmark protection does not extend to the interior of the former religious structure, JAB Real Estate preserved architecture features such as decorative woodwork, trim, and stained glass windows, noted officials from the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

A three-story brick and terracotta building with a large ground-floor storefront and decorative columns.
The Triangle Motors showroom at 2229 S. Michigan Avenue.
Photo by Revive Architecture LLC, courtesy Chicago DPD

Triangle Motors showroom

This long-vacant, 100-year-old former automobile showroom located in the Motor Row historic district on Chicago’s Near South Side was restored into commercial space by Windy City RE. The project repaired the vintage building’s brick and terracotta exterior, installed new windows, and restored its commercial storefront. It provides a “creative example of what is possible for similar structures in the district,” said the DPD.

The Chicago’s 2019 Excellence in Preservation Awards also recognized a handful of smaller-scale residential projects. These included the rehabilitation of an old sandstone three-flat in Lakeview and a pair of new construction single-family homes that were designed to complement their respective historic districts in Wicker Park and Kenwood.