Preservation Chicago's 'most endangered' sites list includes Thompson Center, Jackson Park

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago preservationists are warning residents about vulnerable historic buildings across the city.

Preservation Chicago released a list of this year's seven most endangered sites on Wednesday.

"This year we continue to see the threat to our public resources, which is of great concern - from the potential sale of the James R. Thompson Center, to the loss of 20 acres of Lakefront parklands in Jackson Park, the Midway and the South Shore Cultural Center for the proposed Obama Presidential Center," said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago.

Miller said he hopes the city will "put preservation first in public policy and practice so the history that ties us to our communities and connects us to place can be protected."

Check out the nonprofit's 2020 list of threatened historic buildings in Chicago:

1. The James R. Thompson Center/ State of Illinois

State officials are listing the Thompson Center for sale this year. The building designed by architect Helmut Jahn has been revered as an "iconic and integral component to Chicago's downtown and municipal core," the nonprofit said.

Preservation Chicago is advocating for ways to repurpose the building so that it keeps it design features and historic character.

2. Jackson Park, South Shore Cultural Center and Midway Plaisance

This year is expected to be critical for decisions surrounding Jackson Park's future as plans for the Obama Presidential Center and Library take shape.

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The nonprofit is recommending that the project's planners "find a more appropriate site in Chicago outside an internationally significant lakefront park."

There's also the threat of a PGA golf course plan resurfacing and potentially causing more damage to the park, the nonprofit said.

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It's the fourth year the park has landed on the nonprofit's most endangered sites list.

3. Union Station Power House

Amtrak, which owns the modern building along the Chicago River, is planning to demolish the site to build a maintenance shed, according to Preservation Chicago.

The nonprofit believes that the passenger rail service can find a better location on a "less prominent piece of land" to build its maintenance shed, encouraging the company to find other uses for the building.

4. Chicago Town & Tennis Club

Misericordia, a care network for people with disabilities, bought the clubhouse and plans to demolish it for new housing, according to Preservation Chicago. The building, which dates back to 1924, was designed by renowned Chicago architect George Washington Maher.

"With some creativity and collaboration, a preservation solution can be worked out that allows Misericordia to grow to meet the demand for its programs," the nonprofit said.

5. Washington Park National Bank

The 1924 building in Woodlawn is being threatened by developer DL3 Realty's new construction plan, the nonprofit said.

Preservation Chicago believes the site is a "perfect candidate for a transit-oriented redevelopment that will serve the community for another century or more."

6. Central Manufacturing District

The area is also facing pressure from developers seeking industrial space and housing.

The nonprofit said the Pershing Road District, and its street wall across from McKinley Park, has avoided demolitions, but this could change unless the city designates the area has a Landmark District.

7. Roseland Michigan Avenue Commercial District

The area has already lost historic buildings, but the nonprofit is emphasizing that the remaining architecture is worth preserving.

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"With strategic investment in historic character buildings most at risk of demolition, the corridor can capitalize on anticipated heritage tourism traffic to the Pullman National Monument while also better serving the needs of Pullman and Roseland community members," Preservation Chicago said.