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Cook County Hospital, Chicago.  Photography: Antunovich Associates



Cook County Hospital


A nine-year advocacy effort to prevent the demolition of Old Cook County Hospital Building may have ended on March 2nd, when the Cook County Board voted to support a rehabilitation proposal to convert the long-vacant structure into medical offices.


Landmarks Illinois, in 2001, had included the mammoth, two-block-long Beaux Arts-style building as one of its “Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.” The listing had been prompted by the construction of a replacement hospital next to the historic building.


In 2003, with a demolition contract being considered for the old hospital, LI presented an alternative reuse plan to the County Board. Drafted with assistance from Board Member Joe Antunovich, that plan—along with testimony from other preservation groups and local developers—delayed a vote on the building’s demolition.


In Fall 2003, after promising to send a Request for Proposal to interested developers, Cook County officials instead invited bids to demolish the block-long Cook County Hospital, which had been vacant since early 2003. The demolition estimates range from $9.7 to $13.6 million, not including asbestos removal.


Based on widespread public opposition to the proposed demolition of the Old Cook County Hospital Building (1400 W. Harrison, Chicago), the Cook County Board voted in late 2004 to delay issuance of a demolition contract for the 1912 Beaux Arts-style structure.  In February 2005, the board authorized a $1.4 million consultant study to consider the long-term space needs for the hospital campus. That report, which was issued in October 2005, concluded that the historic structure was structurally sound and could be readily adapted for medical office space, for which there was a clearly demonstrated need.


However, the report concluded by recommending that the former hospital should still be demolished and replaced with a newly constructed office building.


Cook County Hospital Beaux Arts-Style Facade (click for full-size images}


The topic of Cook County Hospital has been on LPCI’s agenda for several years, since shortly after the plans for the new Stroger Hospital were first announced. It has been listed to our 2001, 2003 and 2004 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois and to our 2002 Chicagoland Watch List.


 Cook County Hospital , Chicago


A detailed reuse plan, featuring design solutions and construction estimates, was prepared by LPCI in April 2003 and was widely distributed to public officials and developers.


Proposed Cook County Hospital 1st Floor Site Plan,  Antunovich Associates




Although the Cook County Hospital reuse plan has generated widespread media attention, developer interest, and public support for saving this still-structurally sound building, the Cook County Board has not actively sought any redevelopment proposals. According to county officials, the site’s proposed use will either be open space or construction of yet-to-be-determined “future medical-related uses.”


A Reuse Plan for Cook County Hospital PDF

LPCI'’s April 2003 Letter to the Editor on Cook County Hospital PDF

Cook County Hospital Photos






The Cook County Hospital two-block-long structure, dating to 1913-16, was designed by Paul Gerhardt and Richard Schmidt. In addition to its impressive Beaux Arts-style façade, with three-story, fluted Ionic columns, the building’s history includes numerous medical advancements, including the first blood bank, indigent care, and modern emergency room procedures. A quote from Pasteur is inscribed on the hospital's stone wall; "One doesn't ask of one who suffers: What is your country and what is your religion? One merely says, You suffer. That is enough for me. You belong to me and I shall help you."








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