North Shore Station


  • LOCATION: Dempster Street at the Skokie Swift Terminal, Skokie, Cook County
  • STATUS: Saved
  • BUILT: 1925
  • SITE TYPE: Train Station
  • ARCHITECTURE: Prairie Style
  • GEOGRAPHY: Suburban
  • OWNER AT TIME OF LISTING: Public, Regional
  • THREAT AT TIME OF LISTING: Station was deteriorated and in need of updated facilities to better serve commuters
  • CURRENT USE: Commercial
  • DESIGNATIONS: National Register of Historic Places (1996)
  • LI PROGRAMS & AWARDS: Landmarks Illinois 2004 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award
  • TAKE ACTION: Grab a cup of coffee at the remodeled station!

(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)

Historic Significance

This outstanding Prairie-Style building was commissioned by railroad magnate Samuel Insull and designed by architect Arthur U. Gerber in 1925. The elegant station was planned as the focal point of a massive real estate development that would help to open Chicago’s northern suburbs and has served as a regional transportation center for decades.

(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)

Threat at Time of Listing - 1995

By 1995, the historic North Shore Station was no longer in use, having undergone several insensitive alterations and facing general disrepair. The loggia created by the wide roof overhang had been boxed in to create additional space, window openings were altered, box signs were added and the original globe lights had been removed. The Village of Skokie was planning to build a new transportation center, and initial plans called for the demolition of the historic 1925 station. To combat this fate and highlight the possibilities for adaptive reuse of the original structure, Landmarks Illinois included North Shore Station in its inaugural Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in 1995.

(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)

Preservation Efforts

In response to calls for preservation of the building, the Village of Skokie agreed to lease an adjacent lot for the purpose of relocating the endangered station. Two local developers, Taxman Corporation and Terraco, Inc., purchased the station in 2002, relocated the building 120 feet from its original location and, with the guidance of architects at Antunovich Associates, restored the historic station for new retail use.

Since 2002, the station has been beautifully restored, using salvaged brick to patch exterior wall repairs, replicating historic light fixtures, windows and detailing. Spot-replacement roofing tiles were ordered from the same Ohio factory that produced the originals in the 1920s. The restored station is intended to serve as an anchor for a new commuter-friendly, mixed-use development in the Village of Skokie.

This is a case where insightful development saved an architectural gem. Not only was the historic station rescued from certain demolition, it was thoughtfully restored in a manner that reflects the fine craftsmanship of the original builder. In 2004, Landmarks Illinois honored the project with a Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award

(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)

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