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Elgin Mental Health Center

750 S. State St., Elgin
Bertrand Goldberg, architect, 1966-1967) (Unknown builder, 1890s barn)




Significance: Two now-vacant buildings at Elgin Mental Health Center were designed by noted modernist architect Bertrand Goldberg and completed between 1966 and 1967: a distinctive Laundry Facility and circular Medical Surgical Building. A vacant brick horse barn was built by the hospital in the 1890s and is thought to be the oldest masonry barn in Kane County. Elgin Mental Health Center was opened as the Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane in 1872.

Current Condition and/or Status: The laundry building was closed in 2000 for possible asbestos abatement and was part of the 2002 property sale. The Medical Building is still owned by the Health Center, but is now vacant. It is structurally sound, but heating and ventilation upgrades and repairs from deferred maintenance are needed. Public access to the grounds is limited and many other historic buildings have already been demolished. In later years the hospital used the barn for storage until the sale of the property in 2002. It is structurally solid and appears to be in good condition.

Potential Threat: The laundry building and masonry barn are located on the northern portion of the hospital campus, which was sold in 2002 to John B. Sanfilippo and Sons. The company planned to consolidate its nut processing operations on the site, but now plans to sell the property, which is zoned for industrial/research uses. It is assumed that the two historic buildings will be demolished when the lots are redeveloped. The Hospital has not stated a future use for the Medical Building.

What You Can Do: Contact Elgin city officials to encourage their support to include the 19th century barn in an expansion plan of the adjacent, city-owned sports complex to Elgin Shores Park, a Kane County Forest Preserve. Community advocates have proposed that the barn could serve as a possible comfort station or point of interest to a proposed bicycle trail. The Laundry Building should be studied for industrial re-use. Urge that all of the buildings be evaluated by the Elgin Historic Preservation Commission for possible local landmark designation.

Other Contacts: ARCHES (Advocate to Revitalize Cultural & Historic Elgin Sites) is a local group that advocates the sustainable value of Elginís rich past.

Photos: 1,2 Medical Surgical Building, 3,4 Laundry Building, 5,6 barn; (1) Hedrich Blessing, (2,4,6) Landmarks Illinois; (3,5) Courtesy Elgin MHC Archives






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