Landmarks group lists ‘most endangered’ sites in Illinois

Selected for historic, cultural or design importance, the sites are in Chicago, Wilmette, Joliet and Rockford.

SHARE Landmarks group lists ‘most endangered’ sites in Illinois
The Consumers Building, 220 S State St., (left), and the Century Building (right), 202 S. State St.

The Consumers Building, 220 S State St., (left), and the Century Building (right), 202 S. State St.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

A statewide preservation group Wednesday issued a pared-down list of “most endangered landmarks,” calling it a targeted call to action to save notable buildings or sites mostly controlled by government agencies.

The list from Landmarks Illinois includes the Century and Consumers buildings on State Street, Gillson Park in Wilmette and an old caretaker’s house in Dan Ryan Woods.

The group’s annual listing usually has at least 10 sites. This year’s shorter version reflects the success of recent preservation efforts statewide, said Bonnie McDonald, CEO of Landmarks Illinois.

For example, the group in prior years has highlighted the Thompson Center in the Loop as endangered, but it is now slated for redevelopment. McDonald said the sites on this year’s list all have “historic, cultural and economic value” and are threatened by neglect or, in the case of Gillson Park, potential changes.

The listed sites:

• The Century and Consumers buildings at 202 and 220 S. State St., owned by the federal government and earmarked for demolition as a possible security risk for the adjacent federal courts at 219 S. Dearborn St. The early 20th century buildings are in the National Register-listed Loop Retail Historic District. Demolition would leave a “gaping hole” in State Street and a suitable renovation is possible, McDonald said.

Gillson Park in Wilmette dates from 1915. Its advocates say its design was influenced by the ideas of landscape architect Jens Jensen.

Gillson Park in Wilmette dates from 1915. Its advocates say its design was influenced by the ideas of landscape architect Jens Jensen.

Landmarks Illinois

Gillson Park, a 60-acre public space along Lake Michigan in Wilmette. It features a naturalistic landscape, but McDonald said the Wilmette Park District is considering whether to fund new roads, parking and structures. Many Wilmette residents support a “Keep Gillson Green” campaign. But on its website, the district has said it is not pursuing extensive construction options suggested by consultants.

Steve Wilson, the district’s executive director, said after the Landmarks Illinois announcement that Gillson is hardly endangered. He said ideas for additional parking and new buildings have been abandoned because of negative feedback. “It’s pretty much an infrastructure maintenance plan at this point,” he said.

Pike House at 1826 W. 91st St. dates from the late 19th century.

Pike House at 1826 W. 91st St. dates from the late 19th century.

Landmarks Illinois

Pike House at 1826 W. 91st St. on the edge of Dan Ryan Woods. Owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the onetime “watchman’s residence” has been vacant for years. McDonald said her group has had “productive discussions” with the district about ideas for the building.

Carl Vogel, communications director for the district, said in May it will seek proposals for the building. He said state law limits options for a sale or lease, but “we are open to exploring a long-term agreement to allow for private reuse as a residence or for a business in a way that preserves its historic exterior.”

The former Will County Courthouse in Joliet was designed by Otto Stark of C.F. Murphy Associates in partnership with Krugel, Healy & Moore Architects.

The former Will County Courthouse in Joliet was designed by Otto Stark of C.F. Murphy Associates in partnership with Krugel, Healy & Moore Architects.

Landmarks Illinois

• The former Will County Courthouse in Joliet. Built in 1969 in the architectural style known as Brutalism, the empty building suffers from the county’s lack of interest in reuse ideas, Landmarks Illinois said.

The former Elks Lodge No. 64 in Rockford was built in 1912.

The former Elks Lodge No. 64 in Rockford was built in 1912.

Friends of Ziock

• The former Elks Lodge No. 64 in Rockford. The 1912 building is part of a downtown historic district but needs emergency repairs, the group said. The Rockford Register-Star has reported that its private owner wants to redevelop it, but that city officials are losing patience with its blighted condition and could seek a demolition order.

Landmarks Illinois said it will work with preservation advocates, local officials and developers to find resources, such as grants and tax credits, that could help with the sites.

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