Landmarks Illinois releases 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois – Consumer News

on Apr25

25 April 2018 | 3:00 pm

Illinois’ most endangered landmarks include a 19th-century auditorium with ties to Chicago’s African-American, musical and labor histories and a house in Wilmette that began life as a World’s Fair demo model.

The Forum in Bronzeville and the Stran-Steel house are two of the 13 historic sites on the 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list released this morning by Landmarks Illinois, a nonprofit group that advocates for protection and reuse of historic places.

“These endangered places still have value,” Bonnie McDonald, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois, said in a statement. “With some creativity, vision and committed investment, these endangered properties can be preserved and reused. Landmarks Illinois is here to help every step of the way.”

The James R. Thompson Center, the futuristic state government building at 100 W. Randolph St., makes its second appearance on the list as Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration pursues a sale of the property that might allow demolition of the 1985 building.

In Lincoln Park, a Christian Science church that faces a threat is on the list. The church was designed by Solon Beman, the architect of the old factory town of Pullman and of 20 Christian Science churches. Its dwindling congregation put the 1898 structure up for sale in November, and its lack of protected status suggests a buyer could demolish it.

Other Chicago-area landmarks on the list include a block in Evanston where a 1920s theater and other vintage structures stand, an 1898 library building in Naperville and the Waldorf Tabernacle in Des Plaines, built in 1903 as part of the Chautauqua Christian revival movement of the era. The list also includes sites in Rock Island, Galesburg and southern Illinois, among others. (See the list here.)‚Äč

At the Forum, demolition has been an imminent threat for at least seven years. The red-brick building at 318-328 E. 43rd St. dates to 1897. It has hosted Nat King Cole and Muddy Waters performances, Pullman Porter union meetings and film star Robert Redford, who shot a scene in the 1973 movie “The Sting” there.

“It embodies so much history,” said Bernard Lloyd, president of Urban Juncture, a development firm that bought the Forum in 2011 days before the city of Chicago was scheduled to carry out an emergency demolition order on the dilapidated property.

Urban Juncture stabilized the structure, Lloyd said, but has struggled to fund the rest of the rehab on the building, whose second-floor assembly hall is 75 feet by 75 feet, with a ceiling 30 feet high.

“Raising capital is a problem, simply because of where it’s located,” Lloyd said. The city’s buildings department, he said, “has been clear that if there’s no progress quickly, they will advance it back to the demolition stage.”

The Stran-Steel house in Wilmette was a surprise discovery last fall, when a homebuilding firm bought the Chestnut Avenue lot it stands on. The land had been marketed as a buildable site with a house of no value on it, but soon it emerged that the house was a relic of the Century of Progress World’s Fair held on Northerly Island in 1933 and 1934.

The house was previously little known by Wilmette officials and preservationists before MJK Homes paid $915,000 in December for the site, two-fifths of an acre. After the building’s origins were determined with the help of architects, architectural historians and Crain’s reporting, Max Kruszewski of family-run MJK offered to donate it to anyone who can move it off the site by this summer. Kruszewski said in December that “we don’t want to demolish it.”

The house, made of a steel frame and clad on the outside with panels of baked enamel, was built by Indiana steel firm Stran-Steel and Good Housekeeping magazine at the world’s fair to demonstrate how steel, already common in the construction of high-rises and commercial buildings, could be used in houses.

The Stran-Steel house “shows the importance of Chicago’s role in promoting modern architecture to the United States,” Lisa Schrenk told Crain’s in December. Schrenk is the author of “Building a Century of Progress: The Architecture of the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair” and an associate professor of architectural history at the University of Arizona.

Landmarks Illinois has released an annual list of the state’s most endangered sites since 1994. One-third of the places listed over the years have been saved, according to the group, and less than one-quarter have been demolished. Others “are in varying stages between being continually threatened and rehabilitation,” its statement announcing the 2018 list said.



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