Preservation Chicago

Chicago's 7 Most Endangered Buildings

The James R. Thompson Center and Chicago’s Roman Catholic churches are among Preservation Chicago’s 2019 list of the 7 Most Endangered Buildings. The annual list, just announced at an event at the Chicago Architecture Center, identifies architecturally significant structures that preservationists hope to save from the wrecking ball.

This year marks the 17th year the organization has compiled this list in an effort to draw the public’s attention to threatened elements of Chicago’s built environment.

This is the third time the James R. Thompson Center/State of Illinois Building, Plaza and Atrium has made the list. Preservation Chicago notes that since the Thompson Center was built in 1985, the building’s design and engineering challenges of the space have been a contentious topic for the city. However, it is an iconic representation of Post-Modern design by world-renowned architect Helmut Jahn and is worthy of preservation.

Many of Chicago’s Roman Catholic churches were designed by some of America’s greatest architects and most recognized architectural firms. The church buildings which have made the list are both gateways and landmarks in their communities; more than religious centers, but also community centers.

Throughout its history, Preservation Chicago has remained an organization committed to the idea that all preservation is local. You can learn more about the organization and the rest of this year’s list here.

Can The Uptown Be Saved?

Earlier this year Preservation Chicago joined the effort to save a Chicago landmark - the Uptown Theatre.  The organization has asked those concerned with historic preservation, neighborhood vitality and the economic future of the city to sign and promote the “Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Restore the Uptown!” petition.

The Uptown is often described as a massive, ornate "movie palace" located in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. It opened its doors on August 18, 1925. With 4,381 seats, the Uptown's interior volume is said to be larger than any other movie palace in the United States, including Radio City Music Hall in New York. It has been closed to regular audiences since 1981 and preservationists are concerned that something needs to be done now to prevent permanent ruin. "If this isn't resolved soon, this building will continue to deteriorate," says Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago.

An article by Mark Guarino in last week's Crain's Chicago Business details plans that have yet to materialize. There are certainly barriers to it's restoration, but many are still working to overcome those barriers - including Friends of the Uptown. As Ald. James Cappleman, 46th Ward is quoted: "I believe that next chapter of the story of this great theater will be written very soon, and there has never been a better time for this project to move forward." We will see what 2018 brings.

Preservation Chicago Names City’s 7 Most Endangered Structures of 2017

Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago's Executive Director, presenting "The Chicago 7" Most Endangered List for 2017

Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago's Executive Director, presenting "The Chicago 7" Most Endangered List for 2017

Each year, Preservation Chicago compiles a list of what they consider to be the seven most endangered sites in the city. This year's roster, announced today, included Jackson Park and South Shore Cultural Center parkland; as well as Chicago's 20th Century public sculptures.

Other sites that made the list include:

  • The water cribs along the lakefront.
  • Blocks 11, 12, 13 of Altgeld Gardens on the South Side.
  • The Union Station Power House in the South Loop.
  • Madison-Pulaski commercial district in West Garfield Park.
  • Cornell Store and Flats in Greater Grand Crossing area

The Chicago Tribune ran the story with detail and photos. Preservation Chicago is committed to strengthening the vibrancy of Chicago’s economy and quality of life by championing the city's historic built environment. This annual list is one of their many worthwhile efforts.

Endangered Buildings

St. Adalbert Church on 17th St. between Paulina St. and Ashland Ave. was organized in 1874 by Bishop Thomas Foley to serve Polish families who had settled in the predominantly Bohemian district known as Pilsen. The cornerstone of the current building was laid in 1912. Photo credit: Preservation Chicago

Earlier this month, Preservation Chicago released its annual "Chicago 7" list of most endangered buildings in the city. The purpose of the Chicago 7 is to raise public awareness about the threats facing some of Chicago's most at-risk architectural treasures. This year they expanded their list to include 8 entries, in order to call attention to the exceptional threat to one of the city's most magnificent Catholic churches, Pilsen's St. Adalbert.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the "Archdiocese of Chicago announced last month that the church, built in 1912, would close. The church's distinguished twin 185-foot towers have been hidden under scaffolding for more than a year."

Preservation Chicago was organized in 2001 by a small group of individuals who wished to collectively advocate for the preservation of Chicago's historic architecture. They also advocate for the preservation of neighborhoods and urban spaces throughout the city of Chicago. They cite St. Boniface Church, Lake Shore Athletic Club and Scherer Building (1201 N. State) among their many successful efforts.

Chicago's 7 Most Endangered Buildings

On the list: Pioneer Arcade at 1535-1541 N. Pulaski Road, completed in 1925.

On the list: Pioneer Arcade at 1535-1541 N. Pulaski Road, completed in 1925.

Every year Preservation Chicago highlights seven buildings they think are worth saving. Last week WBEZ 91.5 sat down with Preservation Chicago's Ward Miller to talk about the current state of Chicago's most endangered buildings. Here's a quick link to the interview and photos by WBEZ's Andrew Gill.