Century & Consumers Buildings: 2023 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois

“The unique architectural elements of the Century and Consumers buildings contribute to the diversity and distinct historic urban environment in the Chicago Loop. I believe there is a path to saving them and putting them back to good use while addressing the federal security concerns.”

– Chicago Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward


Century Building: 202 S. State St., Chicago, Cook County
Consumers Building: 220 S. State St., Chicago, Cook County


Century Building: 1915
Consumers Building: 1913


Century Building: Holabird & Roche
Consumers Building: Jennie, Mundie, Jensen


U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)


The Century & Consumers Buildings are two of State Street’s remaining architecturally and historically significant, terra cotta-clad skyscrapers. Both are contributing structures to Chicago’s Loop Retail Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, and are key components of State Street’s historic street wall. They speak to State Street’s past and present as one of Chicago’s most important retail and commercial corridors. Despite years of vacancy under the ownership of the GSA, these two Chicago School-style high-rise office buildings still have great integrity, beauty and potential for adaptive reuse.


The Century and Consumers Buildings have sat vacant since their acquisition by the GSA in 2005. Past redevelopment proposals have been halted due to security concerns at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, which sits immediately to the west. In March 2022, a $52 million appropriations request was approved for the GSA to demolish the Century and Consumers Buildings, as well as two smaller commercial buildings located between them. The GSA is currently navigating the National Environmental Policy Act public consultation process and conducting the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Process to address the future of these buildings, but demolition is still the most likely outcome.


While the security risks to the Dirksen Courthouse are real, the GSA should work toward finding a solution to increase security at the courthouse without demolishing the Century and Consumers Buildings. This could be achieved by working with the private development community to come up with adaptive reuse solutions for the Century and Consumers buildings that creatively respond to security needs and might also include making security adjustments to the courthouse building itself.


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