Photography: (All photos) courtesy of Preservation Chicago
Preservation Chicago announced it’s annual “Chicago’s 7” list of endangered buildings on Tuesday. This year’s selection is a series of mostly vacant, deteriorating and neglected structures. Among them are the Allstate building in North Lawndale, St. James Church, the Century and Consumers Building on State Street, and several commercial and residential buildings on the North and West Side.
But…are they really worth protecting? Is the community fighting for these forgotten buildings? Should the city even care?
The Medic Building and Lathrop Homes, both on the North Side, are arguably in less danger of demolition than the others on the list. Target bought the Medic Building last month, and if the CityTarget downtown is any indication, then the site is in good hands.
Lathrop Homes’ future is still in discussions for redevelopment. Preservation Chicago acknowledges that some demolition might occur for Lathrop, but notes on their website that stakeholders are working to find alternatives.
On the more endangered side, South Barrington rushed to save the suburban Allstate campus last year, but the same cannot be said for structure at 3245 W. Arthington on the Sears campus.
Saving St. James Church, the 132-year-old Gothic Revival church at 29th and Wabash which has been closed for more than two years, would cost almost $12 million. Even Chicago’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese, which holds the demolition permit for the church, is pro-demolition. They have been working toward demolition since last fall, despite the efforts of the pro-preservation Friends of Historic St. James Church.
Century & Consumers Building
Demolition isn’t about history vs. progress. In some cases, it’s just a math problem (as with St. James Church). In others, it’s the unsympathetic combination of decaying structures and disinterested developers. Either way, a building's future is worth discussing—and reason enough for Preservation Chicago to release this list.