Landmark Illinois Names Most Endangered Historic Places

A state agency charged with preserving landmarks finds itself listed on a list of “most endangered historic places” by another preservation group.

The 44-year-old nonprofit Landmarks Illinois unveiled Wednesday its annual list of historic places across the state that are in jeopardy, and it included the state’s Historic Preservation Agency, which would be dismantled under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget for 2016.

Landmarks Illinois President Bonnie McDonald said in a statement that the state would suffer from the loss of the agency and other sites on the list.

“The sites named to the list, as well as the critical work of our State Historic Preservation Office, are all exceptionally important to not only local residents, but the local economy,” she said. “By calling attention to the potential for reuse and revitalization of these historic places, we are encouraging job creation and economic development across Illinois – something everyone can support.” 

The state Historic Preservation Agency manages state historic sites as well as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. Rauner’s proposed budget would fold much of those duties into the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and make the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum into an independent entity.

Sunny Fischer, the chairwoman of the board of trustees for Historic Preservation Agency, said she appreciates Landmarks Illinois’s support. 

“I think it’s pretty sad that they had to do that but we are in danger,” she said. “We help preserve the history of Illinois. It’s a sad day but we’re glad they did it because that kind of support will help raise awareness as to why we’re so important.” 

The governor’s office issued the following statement:

"The governor is committed to preserving Illinois' history for future generations. IHPA is being streamlined into the tourism division in proposed changes to DCEO. The historic sites will continue to be preserved, while saving the state more than $5 million a year." 

View a map of the 2015 Most Endangered Historic Places according to Landmarks Illinois.

Also on this year’s endangered list are: 

Arnold-Crowe House, 3329 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago
This mansion was built for Schwinn Bicycle Company co-founder Adolph Arnold in 1904 and was later home to Robert E. Crowe, who was the prosecutor in the trial of Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb. The duo kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old boy in 1924.

Black Hawk Statue, Lowden State Park, 1411 N. River Road, Oregon
Located on the east side of the Rock River, this 104-year-old statue is in “desperate need of full conservation—it’s concrete body in some places is so deteriorated that if not addressed immediately, there is a risk that the damage will quickly accelerate and the majority of its original details will be lost,” according to Landmarks Illinois.

Bowen Building, Peoria State Hospital, 4125 W. Pfeiffer Road, Bartonville
Landmarks Illinois touts this 1902 limestone building as the “centerpiece” of the Peoria State Hospital complex, which was created after the state’s General Assembly called for a state insane asylum.

Central Park Theater, 3535 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago
Located in the city’s North Lawndale neighborhood, this 1,780-seat theater was built in 1917 and is heavily influenced by the Italian and French Renaissance and “designed in the style of a European opera house,” according to Landmarks Illinois.

Condell House, 605 S. 4th St., Springfield
Billed as Springfield’s oldest structure, this 1842 house is slated to be demolished by the city unless a buyer can be found. The house once served as a wing of the First Methodist Episcopal Church before it was bought by businessman John Condell, who moved the house to its current location.

William H. Coventry House and Barn, 7704 Rt. 14 N, Harvard
This 1855 house recently served as a place for Motorola executives to stay as they visited a nearby manufacturing facility, according to Landmarks Illinois. The company renovated the house and its outbuildings in 1994, the group says, but those buildings have “deteriorated significantly, diminishing their property value and placing the historic residence and barn in danger.”

Mid-century Modern Houses, statewide
Landmarks Illinois says these homes, typically built between 1940 and 1970 by acclaimed architects such as Edward Dart and A. James Speyer, are struggling to survive current housing demands. “Often, these homes contain open floor plans, small kitchens, seemingly outdated materials, and design features such as windowless or full-glass walls that lead many realtors to view them as less desirable and list them for their land value,” the group says.

Schulze Bakery, 40 E. Garfield Blvd., Chicago
This 1914 building was once used by the Schulze Bakery for its large-scale baking operations. This building includes “highly decorative terra cotta ornament and detail on the exterior,” Landmarks Illinois says.

St. James Academy, 220 Illinois St., Lemont
An archdiocesan school built in 1883, this building features a “simple Italianate style,” Landmarks Illinois says. It is one of the few limestone buildings that have survived in Lemont.

Thatchcot House, 515 S. 13th St., Herrin
Built in 1915 as a “whimsical interpretation of an English thatched cottage” with exotic wood paneling and leaded-glass windows, the Thatchcot House suffered a fire in 2000 that badly damaged its interior.

Historic properties in the River Edge Redevelopment Zones
Landmarks Illinois says that these properties represent “the variety of historic commercial buildings” in their areas. They received funding through a tax credit that is set to expire in 2017 and are located in Aurora, East St. Louis, Elgin, Peoria, and Rockford. They include:

  • Elgin Tower Building, 100 E. Chicago Ave., Elgin 
  • The Hobbs Building, 2 N. River St., Aurora 
  • Madison Theater, 500 W. Main St., Peoria 
  • The Murphy Building, 234 Collinsville Ave., East St. Louis 
  • Ziock Building, 416 S. Main St., Rockford