Thanks to the efforts of historic preservation advocates in Illinois, 12 sites in the state were added to the National Register of Historic Places during 2019, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced today.
The places recognized are located throughout the state and include a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a stone wine cellar, and three historic districts that, when combined, include more than 60 significant properties.
Among the sites, and the only one in Downstate, is the former Alton Gas and Electric Powerhouse in Alton, which was formally listed on Aug. 28.
The building has been known in more modern times as the Abbott Machine Co. building on the Great River Road.
The Powerhouse, constructed in 1913-1914, was initially a substation for Keokuk, Iowa’s hydroelectric system. By 1915, Alton’s substation was able to receive and produce power, providing electricity for the city and the surrounding area for the next 13 years.
The power plant incorporated the most up-to-date equipment and was considered cutting edge in terms of its capacity to produce hydroelectricity for residential, commercial and industrial customers.
Following a merger of the Union Electric Co. and the Mississippi River Power Co., which was owned by the Keokuk’s dam/hydroelectric system, the recently upgraded Alton Gas and Electric Powerhouse became reassigned as an emergency station in 1928. Union Electric permanently closed the powerhouse in 1937.
Historic places are added to the National Register by the National Park Service based on recommendations from the State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the IDNR.
“Each of these places tells a unique story that is a part of the rich fabric of Illinois history,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. “We are proud to work with local preservationists to obtain national recognition for these historic buildings and neighborhoods.”
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of properties that merit special attention and preservation. Every Illinois county has at least one property or historic district listed in the National Register. Together, they represent a cross section of the Prairie State’s history from its early settlement to the mid-20th century.
In general, properties must be more than 50 years old to be eligible for the National Register. A listing places no obligations on private property owners but does make properties eligible for some financial incentives.
Here is a recap of the other 2019 additions to the National Register from Illinois:
Cook and Collar Counties
Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium District, Chicago, Cook County
Listed Sept. 26, 2019
The Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium District is located on Chicago’s far northwest side in the North Park neighborhood. This 160-acre institution, built between 1911 and 1915, was one of the largest facilities in the United States to treat tuberculosis, one of the deadliest diseases in human history. The facility advanced valuable treatments beyond the typical rest and fresh air encouraged by earlier sanatoriums, and it offered patients a range of activities during their lengthy treatments that would both keep patients from leaving prematurely and prepare them for reentry into society. The sanitarium was the manifestation of Chicago’s “I will” spirit – the determination to control and defeat the spread of tuberculosis. The sanitarium, which closed in 1974, is also significant for its architecture, with buildings constructed in the Prairie School style with Italian Renaissance Revival elements.
Copley Hospital, Aurora, Kane County
Listed April 18, 2019
The Copley Hospital is historically important in the area of health and medicine for the role it served in providing medical care to the residents of Aurora and the surrounding Fox Valley. In the late 19th century, Aurora’s civic leaders recognized the need for a public medical care facility to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries, thus forming the not-for-profit Aurora City Hospital Association under state law on April 9, 1886. The association immediately began to collect public donations for the construction of a dedicated hospital building. The association’s efforts were successful, making it possible to open the hospital in October 1888. Providing general medical care, surgical operations, and maternity services, it remained the only hospital in Aurora until 1900. Until 1911, it was the only institution in Aurora to offer maternity beds. The hospital continued to receive additions to the complex, one of which was made possible by a generous donation from Ira C. Copley in 1932, after whom the building was then named. In 1893, Copley Hospital established an accredited school of nursing on the property which graduated more than 1,100 nurses between 1893 and 1957. By the time of its closing in 1995, the Copley Hospital had 200 beds including 30 infant beds, making it the oldest and the longest-occupied medical facility in Aurora.
First Congregational Church, Des Plaines, Des Plaines, Cook County
Listed Aug. 27, 2019
Built in 1929 toward the latter end of the architectural firm of Pond and Pond, Martin and Lloyd, the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines is an excellent example of Arts and Crafts architecture with Art Deco influences. The firm tended to avoid excessive ornamentation, instead expressing their style through geometric patterns. Major interior spaces also follow the Arts and Crafts style and provide an important example of artwork by prominent artist Edgar Miller, such as the stained glass “Life of Christ” window and frieze, which were added to the chancel in 1947. In 1953, the music room addition was planned by Charles Edward Stade, a local architect who would go on to design hundreds of churches nationwide. Another building alteration campaign, including the remodeling of the fellowship hall, was carried out in 1956-1957 under the direction of architect Louis Huebner of Park Ridge. The church commemorated its sesquicentennial on October 26, 2019.
Louis Fredrick House Barrington Hills, Lake County
Listed June 24, 2019
The Louis Fredrick House, built in 1957, is a representation of a Usonian home designed by one of America’s greatest architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. The original owner, Louis Fredrick, exemplifies the life of many Americans who immigrated to the United States and found success through a combination of hard work, determination, and good luck. In time, and with great success in the field of contract interior design, he was able to set aside sufficient funding to move with his family from the city to the suburbs where he built his “dream home.” The Fredrick House likewise relates to the context of Barrington, as a product of suburban growth that transformed a small town to a bedroom community for Chicago, connected by highways and commuter trains. The home currently remains a private residence.
The Forum, Chicago, Cook County
Listed April 16, 2019
The Forum, designed by prominent Chicago architect Samuel Atwater Treat in 1897, is an admirable representation of a late 19th century meeting and social hall. Commissioned by Chicago Alderman and later California Congressman William E. Kent and his father Albert E. Kent, it served as the heart of the Grand Boulevard community and hosted a range of events from politics to entertainment. Notable events included speeches by Oscar Stanton de Priest and Dr. Emil G. Hirsch; performances by Nat King Cole, Tiny Parham, and the Johnny Long Orchestra; and, Civil Rights activities such as the Chicago Scottsboro Defense Conference and the “Negroes in Major Leagues” movement regarding the integration of Major League Baseball. Presently, the Forum, which closed in the late 1970s, is undergoing restorations, welcoming it to its next phase of life within its community.
Leaning Tower of Niles, Niles, Cook County
Listed April 17, 2019
The Leaning Tower of Niles, completed in 1934, was commissioned by Robert Ilgair, owner of ILG Electric Ventilating Company in neighboring Chicago, as the focal point of a 22-acre private park he created for his employees as a place to relax on the weekends. The tower, which is all that remains of the park, is the only replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the world. Standing at 94 feet tall, 28 feet around, and with a slight lean of 7.4 feet, the Tower of Niles is about half the size of the original found in Italy. Three of the bells in the tower date to the 17th and 18th centuries. Currently undergoing renovations, the tower is scheduled to reopen to the public this spring.
Lilacia Park Historic District, Lombard, Du Page County
May 9, 2019
Lilacia Park Historic District represents a significant contribution to the history of horticulture in the United States. The district is located in Lilacia Park, the former estate of Colonel William R. Plum, in 1927. Between 1911 and 1927, Plum and his wife Helen Maria Williams Plum curated a collection of lilac specimens collected from the United States and around the world. This collection was among a group of other American lilac collections of similar scope, including those at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and Highland Park in Rochester, New York, and was a major contributor that brought the growing trend of planting lilacs from Europe to American gardens. Colonel Plum donated the land to the Village of Lombard in 1927, which became the Village’s first public park. Today, the park maintains around 700 species of lilacs and about 25,000 species of tulips and has been the dedicated location of the annual Lilac Time Festival since 1930.
Downtown Urbana Historic District, Urbana, Champaign County
Listed Aug. 27, 2019
The Downtown Urbana Historic District is significant for both its history and its architecture. Serving as the Champaign County seat since 1833, Urbana has had five county courthouses anchoring its downtown, the most recent of which was built in 1901. Being the county seat has offered development in a variety of commerce including opera houses, hotels, banks, bakeries, millinery shops, and saloons, all of which can be found lining the streets of the downtown. Excellent examples of a variety of 19th and 20th century architectural styles and types are represented throughout the district, including Italianate, Romanesque Revival, Classical Revival, and Tudor Revival. Local architect Joseph Royer left a legacy in the downtown, which was especially impactful, as many of his designs are represented in the district and include the Champaign County Courthouse, the Urbana Free Library, and the former U.S. Post Office. The district, which contains 41 historical properties, continues to offer a thriving and enriching environment to its patrons.
Hunziker Winery Site, Warsaw, Hancock County
Listed Nov. 18, 2019
The Hunziker Winery Site, purchased by Gottlieb Hunziker in 1864, has historical and archaeological significance, having aided in the establishment of mid-century commercial wine production in the vicinity of Warsaw and Nauvoo in the 1870s. The site contains remnants of above-ground structural features and well-preserved remains of a large subterranean cellar, suggesting that below-ground archaeological resources are intact. Such resources may provide an understanding of the modernization of this industrial production site from a predominately hand-powered to a steam- and/or electric powered facility during the use-life of the site. Furthermore, the site could also provide an understanding of middle 19th century commercial wine production in western Illinois, and the modernization of that facility during the later 19th and early 20th century years.
Paris High School and Gymnasium, Paris, Edgar County
Listed April 16, 2019
The Paris High School and Gymnasium are significant for their architectural styles. The high school, constructed in 1909 with symmetrical additions added in 1922, was designed in the Classical Revival style by Bloomington-based architect Arthur L. Pillsbury. The gymnasium is an excellent example of the Streamline Modern style designed by Champaign-based designers Berger and Kelley and constructed by laborers from the Works Progress Administration in 1943. The gymnasium was renamed the Eveland Gymnasium in 1977 in honor of Ernie Eveland, a prominent basketball coach at the high school from 1935 to 1958. The Paris High School serviced its community until 2015, when a new high school building was constructed north of the city. The Eveland Gymnasium continues to be used by the school district for athletics.
Rollo Congregational United Church of Christ, Earlville vicinity, De Kalb County
Listed Aug. 27, 2019
The Rollo Congregational United Church of Christ is a good example of a side steeple vernacular church with elements of the Romanesque Revival style. Completed in 1913, the church was designed by a small group of church members. The church was constructed with volunteer labor which was supervised by an experienced local builder hired for the project. Presently, the church remains in excellent condition with no new additions and most of the work completed in the building having only been done for maintenance purposes.
Photo from Abbott Machine Co. website