Landmarks Illinois announced this year’s list of the top threatened historic and culturally significant places at a virtual presentation on May 5, 2021. Four of these sites are within a few blocks of Illinois Route 66 in Chicago, Cicero, Joliet and East St. Louis. In addition, the state’s many Green Book sites were recognized.
Landmarks Illinois and partners at Route History in Springfield are working to document and preserve the stories and remaining sites associated with the Green Book. The Green Book was a travel guide published between the late 1930s and 1960s when segregation and Jim Crow laws made it necessary to keep a list of places that provided safe services and accommodations for African American travelers.
James R. Thompson Center, Chicago. For the fourth time since 2017, Landmarks Illinois is calling attention to the state-owned, Helmut Jahn-designed Post Modern building constructed in 1985. The State of Illinois continues to pursue selling the neglected building as a redevelopment site instead of a reuse opportunity.
Klas Restaurant, Cicero. The 99-year-old, now-vacant commercial building served for decades as an anchor to Cicero’s Cermak Road commercial district and as an important part of the cultural history of the local Czech community. The former restaurant, however, is currently for sale without any landmark protection.
Joliet Steel Mill Main Office Building, Joliet. The office building constructed in 1891 and located on the closed Joliet Steel site, has sat vacant since the 1980s. Current owner U.S. Steel has been unwilling to stabilize the structure or sell it separately from the rest of the site to enable a potential rehabilitation and reuse.
Broadview Hotel, East St. Louis. A development company hopes to rehabilitate the 1926 former hotel building and convert it into senior housing. The project, however, is dependent on the River Edge Redevelopment Zone Historic Tax Credit, which is scheduled to expire at the end of this year.
Photo credits: Landmarks Illinois, Route History, Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway