Arcade Building

Quick Stats

  • LOCATION: 1 Riverside Road, Riverside, Cook County
  • STATUS: Saved
  • BUILT: 1879
  • SITE TYPE: Commercial
  • GEOGRAPHY: Suburban
  • OWNER AT TIME OF LISTING: Private, Mortgage Holder
  • THREAT AT TIME OF LISTING: In the midst of restoration, the owner went into foreclosure, leaving the building at risk of further damage by neglect.
  • CURRENT USE: Commercial
  • DESIGNATIONS: Local landmark and part of the Riverside National Register Historic District
  • LI PROGRAMS & AWARDS: Recipient of a Landmarks Illinois 2014 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Restoration
  • TAKE ACTION: Visit

(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)

Historic Significance

The 1871 Arcade Building in Riverside is one of the village’s oldest buildings. Designed by Frederick Withers in the Gothic style, it was built under the supervision of William LeBaron Jenney, an American architect and engineer who came to be known as the “Father of the American Skyscraper.” The building was originally named the Riverside Stores and served as a commercial shopping center with offices occupying the upper floors. Not only was it the first commercial building in Riverside, the Arcade Building was also one of the first multi-business “shopping arcades” in the country, serving as a predecessor for the shopping mall. Additionally, the Arcade was one of the first, if not the first, commercial structures in the United States specifically designed to be as part of a planned residential community.

(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)

Threat at Time of Listing - 2009

The Village of Riverside conferred local landmark status to the Arcade Building in 1993 but, despite the property’s clear historic value, a series of owners who were unable or unwilling to sympathetically maintain the Arcade Building left it in disrepair. Things were finally looking up in 2007 when the Village approved an owner-driven restoration of the 136-year-old building. Unfortunately, midway through the restoration project, the property owner faced foreclosure. The building was vacated with ownership reverting to the mortgage holder. With the uncertainty of the real estate market after the 2008 financial collapse, advocates feared market conditions would further delay the restoration, leaving the empty building vulnerable to neglect. With status both as a local landmark and as part of the larger Riverside National Historic Landmark District, local preservation advocates nominated the Arcade to Landmarks Illinois’ Most Endangered list to bring attention to the need for a new owner. While waiting for a new owner to come forward, volunteers painted murals on the boarded windows to lessen the visual impact of a vacant building in Riverside downtown.

(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)

Preservation Efforts

Local contractor Giuseppe Zappani recognized the Arcade Building’s potential and purchased it in 2010. Zappani set to work right away and took advantage of the Cook County Class L property tax incentive program to restore the Arcade’s historic integrity. A 1970s cement parge coat was removed to reveal the original Cream City brick underneath, and Zappani used historic bricks to infill damaged areas.

Perhaps the most significant restoration efforts took place at the roof level, where asphalt shingles were replaced with slate, chimneys were rebuilt and an ornamental cupola was completely refabricated in copper based on historic photographs. Zappani, who planned and undertook most of the restoration himself, reinstated the Arcade as a commercial destination and renewed interest in preservation in Riverside. Zappani received a Landmarks Illinois 2014 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award in for his restoration efforts. He also received awards from the Chicago Association of Realtors and Riverside’s Frederick Law Olmsted Society in recognition of his impressive work. In 2016, the Arcade Building was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places, becoming the third individually listed structure in Riverside to make it on the list. “It means a lot,” said Zappani of this recognition.

(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)


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