Earlier this month, the Springfield City Council voted unanimously to move forward with demolishing the historic Springfield YWCA building; overturning a recommendation by the city’s Historic Sites Commission to reject the demolition permit for the 100+ year-old building.
The building was designed by architect George Helmle and built in 1913 to be a place of "intense civic pride by the city of Springfield." In a statement following the Council Vote, Landmarks Illinois said that it "considers the future demolition of the YWCA building – a designated historic landmark – a major loss to the city of Springfield, its historic district and local heritage tourism."
“By voting for demolition, the city has foreclosed on the opportunity for private investors to create an attractive and unique contributor to the local economy through the adaptive reuse of the YWCA,” said Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO of Landmarks Illinois. “It is shortsighted to demolish an existing asset that is included in three development proposals and create yet another vacant lot in the historic district, all while advocates have demonstrated that reuse is possible. This vote sets a terrible precedent for the city to lay waste to a property that it designated, through a public process, as having historic value.”
It is always disappointing to see a community opt for the demolition of an historically significant building rather than plan for its adaptive reuse. You can learn more about the work of Landmarks Illinois here.