Libby, McNeill and Libby Building: 2024 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois


13636 S. Western Ave.
Blue Island, Cook County

Year built



Philip Larmon
General Superintendent for the Libby Company

Current owner

Affordable Recovery Housing


(Photo credit: Calumet Heritage Partnership)

Why is this place important?

The former canning and bottling factory was once home to fruit and vegetable canning operations for the Libby, McNeill and Libby company. It was built in 1918 in Blue Island to be in close proximity to the farms where the produce was grown. At the time the factory was constructed, the Libby, McNeill and Libby company was the second-largest producer of canned foods in the country and became a major employer, with a workforce of about 450 that grew to 800 during the peak summer season. Many workers were local to Blue Island, though the factory also hired migrant laborers from Mexico. The factory closed in 1968 as agriculture relocated to Central and Southern Illinois. Today, the building is a reminder of Blue Island’s industry, the beating heart of the community for decades.

(Photo credit: Blue Island Historical Society)


After Libby, McNeill and Libby left Blue Island, the building was used in the 1990s as an incubator for startup businesses. It has been largely vacant since 2018, when it was donated to the nonprofit, Affordable Recovery Housing. The organization had plans to operate the space as a “fun factory,” but is currently in litigation with the City of Blue Island over code and zoning violations and a lack of a certificate of occupancy or business permit. Meanwhile, the building continues to sit vacant and is beginning to decay.

(Photo credit: Calumet Heritage Partnership)


Adaptive reuse of industrial buildings is increasingly popular, and there are many creative and successful examples both nearby and around the world. The Cooperage 214 in Peoria — an award-winning preservation project — is located in a former 27,000-square-foot cooperage factory that has been transformed into office space and apartments. Up the road from the Libby Building, a former Blue Island Masonic lodge on South Western Avenue has been converted into office space and now hosts doctors’ offices and Cook County Health’s Blue Island Health Center. The Libby Building presents similar opportunities for adaptive reuse and is located within the Cal-Sag Enterprise Zone and the City of Blue Island TIF 2, both of which could be tapped to support rehabilitation.

(Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)


To express your support for the preservation of the Libby, McNeill and Libby Building, contact the Calumet Heritage Partnership via email at


(Photo credit: Calumet Heritage Partnership)

Kevin Brown

Vice President of the Calumet Heritage Partnership

“The presence of unique heritage assets, such as the Libby, McNeill and Libby Building, connects communities like Blue Island to their past and presents attractive centers where community and economic development can occur if they’re repurposed for the future.”

(Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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