7 most endangered buildings in Chicago

The Chicago Preservation Society released its annual list of the buildings at high risk for demolition.

March 15, 2013 |

The Chicago Preservation Society (CPS) released its annual list of the buildings at high risk for demolition. The 2013 list includes the AllState Building (1949), a rare example of immediate postwar modern high-rise construction, and the Lathrop Homes (1938), considered by many to be the best public housing development the city has ever built, according to CPS.

The Chicago 7, as the list is called, was established in 2003 as a way to raise public awareness about the danger facing some of the city's architectural icons. The list includes both single buildings and entire neighborhoods.

The 2013 Chicago 7 list includes (summaries and images provided by CPS):


1. St. James Church

Although the demolition of St. James Church appears to some to be the political will of the Archdiocese of Chicago, a coalition of St. James parishioners, preservationists and the faithful of many area Roman Catholic churches have formed “Friends of Historic St. James” and this new coalition is determined to save it from the wrecker’s ball. With services moved into the adjoining church hall for the past few years because of deferred maintenance and the ongoing repairs to address code violations, coalition members have been reaching out to city officials to save the building, envisioning that preservation presents a new opportunity to reoccupy the church and grow the parish.


2. Hotel Guyon

Originally part of an architecturally and culturally booming West Garfield Park community, the long and steady decline of the neighborhood has only further made the rehabilitation of this rare and magnificent Moorish Revival hotel more challenging. Beautifully constructed of red and cream brick with deep red terra cotta detailing, the Guyon Hotel’s interior is in various states of decay, in contrast to the richness of its once-magnificent grand ballrooms and other interior spaces. Vacant until recently, the site has had multiple owners over the years.


3. State Bank of Clearing

Standing as an important early work of world-renowned Chicago architect Harry Weese, the State Bank of Clearing is unique in the realm of bank building design. Featuring a stunning banking lobby with angled columns and a distinctive drive-up window configuration, the State Bank of Clearing is an important example of Mid-Century Modern bank architecture. Vacant for years, the building is currently for sale and awaiting a reuse. However, demolition is a possibility for the site.


4. Century & Consumers Building

Commanding an imposing presence on the 200 block of South State Street, two historic terra cotta buildings, located at 202 and 220 South State Street respectively, could be lost to future redevelopment by the Federal Government. Listed on the Chicago’s Most Threatened list only 2 years ago, these two buildings remain vacant and no reuse plans for either structure have been proposed. In 2012, unsecured terra cotta detached from the building, reigniting concern about the future of these properties.


5. AllState Building

Designed by the noteworthy architectural firm of Carr and Wright, The Allstate Headquarters Building is a rare example of immediate postwar modern high-rise construction in the city of Chicago. It was the first multi-story building constructed in Chicago since the beginning of WW II and its unique elements make it a clear candidate for reuse and preservation. Completed in 1949 as the national headquarters for the Allstate Insurance Company, it is an important contributing structure and respectfully compliments the noteworthy collection of other buildings on the Sears campus.


6. Medic Building

The Medic building, situated at the corner of Melrose and Ashland, is an extremely intact example of a Chicago building with art deco detailing. This intersection, in conjunction with Belmont and Ashland, was an important commercial hub when the building was constructed in 1929. Many of the structures from this time have already been lost to new development and these losses have erased much of this retail and commercial history. The Medic Building is a reminder of this time and provides much needed architectural interest in the area.


7. Lathrop Homes

Lathrop Homes returns to Preservation Chicago’s 7 Most Threatened list after first appearing in 2007. Arguably, Julia Lathrop Homes is the best public housing development Chicago has ever built, representing a racially mixed, remarkably stable community for generations of Chicagoans. Beautifully sited along the Chicago River with a magnificent and mature landscape, the buildings are low-rise and gently ornamented, creating an intimate, humane atmosphere.

For more, visit: http://www.preservationchicago.org/chicago-seven/2013.

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