The monthly Landmarks Illinois News Roundup fills you in on the top preservation news stories from the month as well as LI’s main advocacy efforts, projects and announcements. You can also receive these monthly news roundups directly in your inbox by signing up for our newsletters at the bottom of the page.

Historic State Farm Building in Bloomington saved from demolition

Landmarks Illinois celebrated the good news this month that a developer would be purchasing the historic former State Farm headquarter building in Bloomington, saving it from an expected demolition. The 13-story, Art -Deco building was built in 1929 and is a contributing property in the Bloomington Central Business District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frank Butterfield, LI’s Springfield Office Director, has been working closely with Bloomington advocates, community leaders and business owners since July when State Farm announced its intention to tear down the structure, which has sat vacant since 2018. Butterfield joined the “Save Our State Farm Building committee,” which aimed to draw attention to the historic building.

Following the group’s media outreach, on September 6 State Farm announced that Urban Equity Properties is under contract to purchase the building with the intention of converting it into apartments. Construction is expected to start in July 2020.


Read more in the news:

Developer Plans Luxury Apartments In Former State Farm Building
WGLT, September 6

State Farm: Downtown building sale possible; Rockford firm named as interested buyer
Bloomington Pantagraph, September 6

Updated condition assessment report of Harley Clarke Mansion available during Evanston's RFP process

On behalf of Landmarks Illinois, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE) has prepared an updated condition assessment report on the historic Harley Clarke Mansion and coach house in Evanston. Landmarks Illinois is publicly providing the revised WJE condition assessment for all parties interested in responding to the City of Evanston’s RFP for long-term lease, rehabilitation and reuse of the architecturally and culturally significant property.

The new condition assessment report finds the 91-year-old historic structure in stable and repairable condition. The report also details and prioritizes repairs needed at the property and offers estimates on the cost to do so.

Those interested in submitting a proposal to the City of Evanston can use this report to help determine scope of work.

The City of Evanston will host its next open house at Harley Clarke on October 1, 2 and 3 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for parties interested in submitting a proposal, which are due February 28, 2020.

Learn more about the updated condition assessment report and download the full report below at LI’s website.


Rock Island community members meet to discuss future of historic courthouse

Frank Butterfield, Director of LI’s Springfield Office, joined local advocates September 25 in Rock Island for a packed, grassroots community meeting to discuss potential reuse solutions for the historic county courthouse.

The meeting welcomed concerned citizens who wanted to discuss Rock Island County’s remaining options for the courthouse, including the county’s unwillingness thus far to enter into discussions with LI and other advocates on preservation solutions for the 120-year-old structure. Earlier this year, LI joined a handful of plaintiffs, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Rock Island and Moline Preservation Societies, in filing a lawsuit against the Rock Island County Board and the Rock Island County Public Building Commission to protect the courthouse from unlawful demolition.

Comments and questions from those who attended the meeting last week were overwhelmingly in favor of courthouse reuse, especially with the ability of a developer to leverage the new State Historic Tax Credit in addition to the federal credits. Speakers at the meeting included Rock Island City Ald. Dylan Parker, who addressed the economic benefits of private reuse and the expertise the City has offered if the County were to sell the courthouse, and Joe Lemon, a private investor who discussed his interest in the courthouse and talked about why other developers find the reuse opportunity attractive and less expensive than new construction. Frank Butterfield also talked about resources and technical assistance Landmarks Illinois could offer during rehabilitation of the courthouse as well as the financial incentives available for developers through tax credit programs.


Read more in the news:

Concerned citizens meet to discuss saving the old Rock Island County Courthouse
WQAD, September 25

Concerned Citizens try and save Rock Island County Courthouse
KWQC, September 23

Ebony Test Kitchen arrives in New York

Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) curator Jean Nihoul came to Chicago to oversee the packing and transport of the Ebony Magazine Test Kitchen to MOFAD’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. The former test kitchen was salvaged from the Johnson Publishing Company Building by Landmarks Illinois in early 2018. MOFAD was selected by LI this year through its RFP process to find an appropriate user of the kitchen. The museum will reassemble and conserve the kitchen to include it in its upcoming exhibition, African/American: Making the Nation’s Table.

While in town, Nihoul also joined Landmarks Illinois staff members and LI Board Chair Sandra Rand for the grand opening of 820 S. Michigan Ave., the former Johnson Publishing Company Building that has been transformed into new apartments.


Read more in the news:

What’s That Building? The Former Johnson Publishing Building
WBEZ, September 21

Now apartments, Johnson Publishing sign on rooftop terrace a reminder of iconic history
Chicago Sun-Times, September 13

New apartments pay homage to Ebony/Jet building’s history
Crain’s Chicago Business, September 9

LI announces panel participants for October 17 event

Four panelists will share first-hand experiences rehabilitating historic buildings in Illinois at a panel discussion October 17 at Chicago Architecture Center. The panel features select 2019 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award Recipients, and kicks off LI’s two-night celebration of this year’s awards. A ceremony follows Friday, October 18 at the Chicago Cultural Center.


Register for the Panel

What else LI has been up to this month...

  • Frank Butterfield has been assisting residents and business owners in the historic village of Makanda as they navigate the regulatory review process with the State Historic Preservation Office to determine if a proposed 185-foot communications tower will have an adverse effect on the Illinois Central Railroad.
  • Landmarks Illinois hosted Donovan Rypkema of PlaceEconomics in Chicago as he led a highly attended Preservation Snapshots Lecture. His presentation sharing insights and data on how historic preservation has positively impacted cities across the U.S. can be download at LI’s website.
  • Landmarks Illinois led a tour of historic sites in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood for members of the LI Board of Directors, Skyline Council, Emeritus Board and major donors.
  • Skyline Council Vice Chair Sarah Van Domelen shares why she likes working in preservation and why she volunteers with LI’s young and emerging leaders committee.
  • Skyline Council continues to seek donations and pro-bono services for its restoration project at the historic Whitney Schoolhouse in Campton Hills. Learn more.
  • Roof work was underway this month at the historic Oscar Stanton De Priest House in Chicago. LI’s has been overseeing the work since it received a $250,000 grant from the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grant Program to carry out essential repairs at the century-old and culturally significant apartment building on the South Side. Stay tuned for future project updates.
  • The City of Highland Park has released a Request for Proposals for consulting services for architectural survey work to update the city’s Central East Architectural Survey from 1999 and to review local landmark documentation



You can download the entire September 2019 Landmarks Illinois Preservation News e-newsletter here:

September 2019 Preservation News Roundup

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