Old Lawes Hotel: 2023 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois

“With proper restoration the historic Lawes Hotel could regain its visual prominence at the edge of Charleston’s historic courthouse square, and once again contribute economically and aesthetically to the City. The Courthouse Square and environs are not only vital reminders of Charleston’s historical development, they continue to serve as the city’s heart and as desirable commercial and residential districts. The Lawes Hotel is one key to sustaining the Square’s vitality.”

– Nora Pat Small, Charleston Historic Preservation Commission


424 Jackson Ave., Charleston, Coles County






Murray Rickliffe Choate II

(Photo credit: Deborah Muller)


Originally built as a home for resident John Rice in 1874, the structure was converted into a hotel in 1907 by Sarah Lawes. After ownership changes over the years, the hotel ceased operations in the mid-1960s and was later converted into senior housing until its closure in 1989. The building is a 19th century survivor that speaks to the changeable nature of a residential area abutting a commercial district. The former hotel occupies an anchor site adjacent to Charleston’s historic courthouse square, and its redevelopment is essential to the ongoing revitalization efforts in historic downtown Charleston.

(Photo credit: Kit Morice)


The building has remained vacant for 34 years. Though the interior is gutted, advocates believe that the original woodwork is in storage, albeit its condition is unknown. While there is not a current plan to raze the structure, the years of deferred maintenance have resulted in brick failure and rapid deterioration. Without immediate intervention, the building will become a public safety hazard and a candidate for demolition by neglect.

(Photo credit: Kit Morice)


The block in which the building sits is in a commercial zone and currently contains a mix of single-family residences, apartments/office space and businesses. Given its proximity to Charleston’s courthouse square and Charleston Carnegie Public Library, all redevelopment options for the building should be considered. It could be rehabilitated for numerous uses including museum space, a visitors’ center, offices or small businesses.

(Photo credit: Kit Morice)


Voice your support for the reuse of the Lawes Hotel by calling the Charleston Historic Preservation Commission at (217) 345-8426 or by emailing Kit Morice at kmorice@gmail.com, Dr. Nora Pat Small at npsmall49@gmail.com or Deborah Muller at CityClerk@co.coles.il.us. More information about the members of the commission can be found at https://charlestonillinoishpc.org/.

(Photo credit: Kit Morice)

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