Thompson Center added to list of Illinois’ most endangered historic places

Marc FilippinoReboot Illinois

April 06, 2017

Illinoisans haven’t always been kind to the James R. Thompson Center. The Center, a Loops fixture for decades, has been likened to a UFO, while others have called it downright ugly.

Now, the Thompson Center takes on a new description: endangered.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed the sale of the 32-year-old corporate and government office building. Rauner estimates the sale of the Thompson Center could fetch the state more than $200 million. Lawmakers seriously are considering the proposal, which eventually could lead to the demolition of the center.

This news led the historic places preservationist organization, Landmarks Illinois, to add the Thompson Center to its 2017 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. The annual list has been released since 1995 and asks preservationists, community leaders and citizens to nominate threatened historic properties. Landmarks Illinois said the list is meant to focus attention on sites threatened not only by sale and demolition but also by deterioration, lack of maintenance and insufficient funds.

Take a look at the other most endangered historic places in this year’s list and take a step back in time to different eras of Illinois’ infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

article image Credit: Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

World War I monuments

Located: Around Illinois

What are we looking at here? Landmarks Illinois estimates there are about 230 outdoor WWI monuments peppered around the state.

Why are they endangered? Landmarks Illinois said many of these monuments, like the Victory Monument in Danville (pictured), are being ignored. This means they aren’t getting the maintenance or restoration they require.

What are preservationists doing about it? Landmarks Illinois has announced a new grant program funded by the Pritzker Military Foundation which would include a survey of the monuments to better understand their conditions.

article image Credit: Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

The Federal Historic Tax Credit

Located: Around Illinois

What are we looking at here? The Federal Historic Tax Credit, provided by the National Park Service and the Internal Revenue Service, funds the rehabilitation and reuse of historic buildings like the Bresee Tower in downtown Danville (pictured).

Why is it endangered? Landmarks Illinois said the House Ways and Means Committee of Congress might eliminate the FHTC.

What are preservationists doing about it? People are reaching out to U.S. Representatives like Danny Davis and Peter Roskam — both members of the House Ways & Means Committee — to voice their support for the FHTC.

article image Credit: Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

Norway Temperance Hall

Located: 3650 E. 2631st Road, Norway (Unincorporated)

What are we looking at here?  Landmarks Illinois said in the early 20th Century, Norway Temperance Hall served as a social and educational center in the community. It is listed in the National Register as a contributing building to the Norway Historic District.

Why is it endangered? The building has been up for sale but is now off the market. Landmarks Illinois said the infrastructure is deteriorating due to water infiltration and a shifting foundation.

What are preservationists doing about it? Landmarks Illinois suggests donating to the Norsk Museum in Illinois.

article image Credit: Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

Historic bridges

Located: Around Illinois

What are we looking at here? Landmarks Illinois describes historic bridges as an integral part of the state’s history and bridges are often tied to an area’s local identity.

Why are the endangered? Funding for maintenance and repairs have been gutted by every level of government, according to Landmarks Illinois. Without funding, bridges like the bridge at Thirteenth St. in St. Francisville (pictured) are at risk of demolition or replacement.

What are preservationists doing about it? Local communities have successfully pushed to add several historic bridges to the National Register of Historic Places and the Illinois Historic Bridge list.

article image Credit: Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

Singer Pavilion

Located: 2929 S Ellis Ave, Chicago

What are we looking at here? Singer Pavilion was one of the first postwar structures constructed at the Michael Reese Hospital campus located in Chicago’s Prairie Shores neighborhood. Landmarks Illinois also included the pavilion in its 2009 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list.

Why is it endangered? It was first seen as expendable during Chicago’s bid for the 2016 summer Olympics and now the city has marketed the vacant campus for redevelopment, according to Landmarks Illinois.

What are preservationists doing about it? Reaching out to aldermen and pushing it to be included in any future redevelopment plans, according to Landmarks Illinois.

article image Credit: Photo Credit: Landmark Illinois

Ryan's Round Barn

Located: Johnson-Sauk Trail State Recreation Area, Henry County

What are we looking at here? Built by Dr. Laurence Ryan in 1910, Ryan’s Round Barn acted as a personal refuge from the doctor’s position as chief of the medical staff at St. Anthony Hospital in Chicago. State officials bought the farm in 1968, and have been seeking bids to build a new roof since the 1980s, according to Landmarks Illinois.

Why is it endangered? Landmarks Illinois said the barn has become another casualty of the state budget crisis. Efforts to replace the deteriorating roof have been put on hold.

What are preservationists doing about it? Landmarks Illinois suggests visiting and supporting the barn.

article image Credit: Photo Credit: Landmarks Illinois

Route 66

Located: Around Illinois and across the country

What are we looking at here? Route 66 once had been home to beat-up jalopies and hippies trying to get their kicks. For decades, the 2,400-mile road was the main way for road warriors to get from Chicago to Los Angeles. Now, the route mostly remains as a reminder of bygone travels.

Why is it endangered? Landmarks Illinois said Route 66 still brings in tons of tourism, but economic development resources remain limited. Because of the financial strain, historic motels and restaurants remain closed.

What are preservationists doing about it? Many are ramping up for the 100th anniversary of the road’s completion in 2026. State Rep. Tim Butler introduced House Bill 0066 (get it?) to create a commission for Illinois’ portion of the road. Others are pushing members of the U.S. Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to adopt legislation that would protect Route 66.

article image Credit: Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

O'Hare Rotunda Building

Located: O'Hare International Airport, Chicago

What are we looking at here? When it was built in 1962, the O’Hare Rotunda Building served as a bridge between the two sides of the airport.

Why is it endangered? Landmarks Illinois said the Rotunda could be vulnerable as major upgrades are planned for O’Hare.

What are preservationists doing about it? Landmarks Illinois recommends contacting Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans and urging her to retain the Rotunda building throughout the redevelopment phases.

article image Credit: Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

McKee House

Located: Churchill Woods Forest Preserve, Lombard

What are we looking at here? The stone building was completed in 1936 and acted as the headquarters and home for Churchill Woods Forest Preserve Superintendent Robert McKee.

Why is it endangered? A decade of deferred maintenance has allowed for significant roof damage and ongoing water infiltration, according to Landmarks Illinois. The Forest Preserve District Board is considering demolishing the property.

What are preservationists doing about it? Landmarks Illinois encourages Dupage County residents to contact board president Joseph Cantore and urging him to invest in the property.

article image Credit: Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois

The James R. Thompson Center

Located: The Loop, Chicago

What are we looking at here? The beauty of the Thompson Center is in the eye of the beholder. Some call it a groundbreaking contribution to Post-Modern design, others find its round shape and hollow interior to be off-putting. What cannot be debated, however, is that the combined office and government building has become a staple of the Loop since the mid-1980s.

Why is it endangered? Lawmakers are looking to sell the Thompson Center and famed architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture recently released a rendering of at 115-story skyscraper that would take its place.

What are preservationists doing about it? Landmarks Illinois supports the sale of the property, if reuse options are utilized.

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