On Wednesday, preservation organization Landmarks Illinois released its annual list of the state’s most endangered historic places. While some of the sites came as no surprise (see the Thompson Center), others highlighted perhaps lesser known struggles to save historical sites from Lincoln Park to Woodlawn.
“A troubling trend with this year’s most endangered sites is the number of historic places that face demolition despite strong and active community support for preservation,” said Bonnie McDonald, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois, in a statement. “People all over Illinois are working to save special places that help tell the unique stories and history of their neighborhoods despite the many challenges that stand in their way.”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Landmarks Illinois’ list. Since 1995, the organization highlighted 242 threatened buildings and successfully preserved 113 sites and is actively supporting efforts to save 16 more, according to the group.
Here are the six Chicago-area buildings that made this year’s list.
James R. Thompson Center in the Loop
For the third year in a row, the Loop’s Thompson Center topped the list of Chicago sites. Preserving the state-owned building took on an added urgency this spring when Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation outlining a two-year plan to sell the controversial postmodern building. Landmarks Illinois says it will only support such a sale if it includes reuse of the existing structure. Last year, the group worked with architect Helmut Jahn to show how the 1985 building could be repurposed and coexist with a new supertall skyscraper.
Washington Park National Bank in Cottage Grove
Located at the corner of Cottage Grove and 63rd Street in Woodlawn, this five-story neoclassical building was designed by architect Albert Schwartz in 1924. Although the site owner, the Cook County Land Bank Authority, indicated they would try to save the building, the group recently selected a redevelopment proposal that calls for demolition. Redevelopment threats aside, the South Side structure is in poor shape. The skylight above its lobby collapsed, the basement filled with water, and trees are growing out the roof.
Sheffield National Register Historic District in Lincoln Park
Despite being on the National Register of Historic Places for its fine examples of late-19th-century architecture, this historic district in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood is seeing many its older homes torn down in favor of new construction. According to Landmark Illinois, roughly a third of the district’s historic buildings have been demolished. The organization would like the city to explore additional preservation measures.
Booth Cottage in suburban Glencoe
Located on Chicago’s North Shore in suburban Glencoe, this modestly-sized home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1913. Despite its architectural pedigree, the Booth Cottage holds only an “honorary” landmark status and could be torn down and replaced with a larger residence. The home was listed for sale in 2017 and has received at least one tear-down offer, according to Landmarks Illinois. The organization would like to see Glencoe pass legislation to protect the cottage or see the property sold to a preservation-friendly owner.
Hoover Estate in suburban Glencoe
Also located in Glencoe, this Tudor Revival style compound was built by architect William Furst in 1922 for the family of vacuum cleaner magnate H. Earl Hoover. The historic 12-acre estate was recently purchased by a developer who plans to demolish the buildings to make way for multiple new single-family homes. The Village of Glencoe moved to nominate the property as an honorary historic landmark in January, but the measure failed—leaving little between the estate and its future demolition.
Hill Motor Sales building in Oak Park
The 1920s-era former Packard showroom was designed by father and son architects E. E. and E.C. Roberts and is considered one of the best surviving examples of Oak Park’s bygone Madison Street auto district. Although Landmarks Illinois says the building is in good condition and is an excellent candidate for reuse, Oak Park officials recently gave a developer permission to demolish the historic structure for a new grocery store.
Learn more about the sites and what can be done to advocate for their preservation at Landmark Illinois’s website.