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Statewide Endangered

2012 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places 






August 2012: A new amendment to the state’s school construction law went into effect following Governor Pat Quinn’s signature of SB 639. The bill amends the current law in order to help encourage the rehabilitation of historic and older schools. To learn more …


Historic Neighborhood Schools


The historic neighborhood school is a building type threatened statewide. These buildings are architecturally distinctive, well-built and centrally located. With misconceptions about renovation costs and unfavorable state funding formulas, many school districts have opted to build unsustainable new schools in outlying areas or to replace historic schools on site. These new schools not only render neighborhood schools redundant, they also increase busing costs exponentially.


Historic schools in the towns of El Paso, Harrisburg, Jacksonville, Pekin and Springfield are all threatened with or proposed for demolition. The state school construction law only provides funding “to replace aging schools.” SB 639 proposes a language amendment to the law that would allow “rehabilitation” as a qualifying funding request. This simple change would encourage local school districts to give equal consideration to rehabilitation.







El Paso-Gridley High School
600 N. Elm St., El Paso
(Woodford County)


What some residents call the “grandest building in the area,” El Paso-Gridley High School has been considered for future demolition by the school district. Due to community protest, that discussion for now has been tabled. Originally built in 1921 as El Paso Township High School, it was designed by the prolific architect Arthur L. Pillsbury of Bloomington who designed hundreds of buildings throughout Illinois, including dozens of schools. Noted sculptor Lorado Taft said of Pillsbury: “He has done more to beautify the various communities of Illinois where his school buildings are located than any other one man.” (Pantagraph, October 26, 1925, “Arthur L. Pillsbury Meets Tragic Death When Car Overturns.”) An exhibit of Pillsbury’s life and career can currently be seen at the McLean County Museum of History through June 2, 2012.


Additional Links


El Paso Journal
Nov 2, 2011

El Paso Journal
Oct 26, 2011








Enos Elementary School
524 W. Elliot Ave., Springfield
(Sangamon County)


This Classical Revival-style school is planned for demolition and replacement in 2013. Built in 1926, the Enos Elementary School has been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The Springfield Historic Sites Commission asked the School Board to reconsider demolition plans, but the request was denied. The School Board argues that a new school will be more space and energy efficient, but studies have shown that renovated buildings of this era are as energy efficient as new construction. The Enos School case shows how difficult it is for local school boards to make reasonable and fiscally responsible decisions under the current school funding formulas. These formulas favor new construction over renovation and they do not permit the inclusion of ADA accessibility retrofits in work that is funded by the preferred school construction bonds. Until the State school funding formulas are improved, school boards will find it difficult to save their neighborhood schools, even if they want to.


Additional Links


Illinois Times (Springfield)
October 18, 2012

WUIS-Radio (Springfield)
April 24, 2012

State Journal Register (Springfield)
April 24, 2012







Franklin Elementary School
352 Franklin Dr., Jacksonville
(Morgan County)


This Art Deco school was built in 1939 with P.W.A.(Public Works Administration) funds and was designed by architects Smith, Kratz, & Strong. It has been recommended for Local Landmark status by the Historical Preservation Commission of Jacksonville. Arguing that rehabilitation of Franklin would be cost prohibitive, the School Board has considered the school for closure several times over the last decade. The School Board's recent referendum to close two elementary schools (Franklin and North) and to build a new high school was soundly defeated by voters in the last election. Now the School Board is considering district-wide austerity measures, including the closure of Franklin as early as June of this year, to make up for a $4.4 million deficit. Closure would force hundreds of children who now walk to school onto buses. The Save Our Schools campaign in Jacksonville has collected over 1,000 signatures from citizens who do not want to see their neighborhood school closed. SOS has held rallies, town hall forums, protest marches, testified to the School Board, written letters to the editor, and worked with legislators and elected officials to find a solution that can retain these schools that serve as Jacksonville’s neighborhood anchors.


What You Can Do


Sign the petition to Save Jacksonville's Neighborhood Schools (including Franklin Elementary School)









Harrisburg High School
40 S. Main St., Harrisburg
(Saline County)


Harrisburg High School is one of the few historic buildings remaining in this town, better known as a community which suffered a devastating tornado on February 29th. The high school is under consideration for replacement by the Harrisburg Unit #3 School Board. Built in 1904 with subsequent additions built in 1914, 1922 and 1938, the building is in need of repairs, but as recently as last year the school board’s architect acknowledged rehabilitation would be more cost effective than replacement. The recent passage of a 1% sales tax increase for district-wide school repair and construction has inspired replacement plans based on the school district’s new ability to borrow up to $15 million. The superintendant has stated there will be only partial demolition, but residents suspect efforts will be made to ultimately replace the entire building.

Two seniors at Harrisburg High School are preparing a nomination of the building for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and helping distribute a petition to save the school. Architecturally distinctive in all phases of its construction, the building exhibits Victorian to Gothic-revival styles. In 1936, the school was visited by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. As noted by high school senior Jessica Newell, “The entire building has seen the Great Depression and two World Wars, and has witnessed countless other events in recent history.” Freshman Justin Smock stated “It’s a beautiful building and it holds so much history.” (The Purple Clarion, Feb. 28, 2012)


What You Can Do


Sign the petition to prevent the high school from being torn down.


















Pekin Community High School “West Campus”
207 N. 9th St., Pekin
(Tazewell County)



November 2013: Demolition starts on West Pekin campus


Closed since 1999 due to consolidation, the “West Campus” of Pekin Community High School was purchased by a private owner after its closure and two of three school buildings on the campus were demolished. The original 1916 high school still stands. A group of community citizens have approached the owner and city officials about the possibility of taking ownership of the building for a new use. This campus, for Freshmen and Sophomores, was closed due to declining enrollment when classes were consolidated at a newer East Campus. Plans for a Bible school in the old West Campus never came to fruition and the building has remained vacant since 1999. Stabilization costs are estimated to be at least $1 million, including roof replacement. On March 26, a petition with over 2,800 signatures was presented to the Pekin City Council in support of extending a downtown TIF district to the West Campus to facilitate a rehabilitation of the building. Locals have discussed various scenarios for the building, including use as a community center and local theater due to its large auditorium.


What You Can Do


For more information, interested developers should contact:


Melida A. Heien, Executive Director
Pekin Main Street
111 S. Capitol St.
Pekin, IL 61554
(309) 353-3100


Additional Links


Peoria Journal Star
April 25, 2012








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