Push for Preservation: 8 Chicago Neighborhood Spots Worth Fighting For

Neglected for years, the Uptown Theatre is in serious danger of demolition, but now it’s getting a $75 million restoration, according to the Chicago Tribune. In Logan Square, the formerly grand Congress Theater is set to undergo a $65 million renovation, according to another Chicago Tribune article. While the two historic theaters have been saved, preservationists worry that the same fate is not in store for many other historic Chicago buildings.

After a battle for the Woodruff Arcade in Edgewater, it seems the 1923 building will be knocked down to make way for a new mixed-use development. Chicago Magazine speculated that the city is amid a “historic preservation crisis,” and Preservation Chicago released its 2018 list of the seven most endangered Chicago sites. 

Here are eight historic Chicago neighborhood spots and buildings that are or could become the focus of a preservation fight.

Guyon Hotel - West Garfield Park

Guyon Hotel photo courtesy of Andrew Jameson

Guyon Hotel in West Garfield Park is included on Preservation Chicago’s 2018 list. The building, made of red and cream brick, was designed in 1927. In 2016, the building went on the market for $500,000, according to Curbed Chicago. But the historic hotel has passed through the hands of seven owners over the past 15 years, according to Preservation Chicago. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, but there’s nothing stopping a developer from knocking it down and building something new. 

Harper High School - Englewood

Englewood neighborhood has a lot worth preserving

Harper High School in Englewood dates back to 1911, and it’s a historic example of patterned brick work. The high school, along with three others in the neighborhood, will be closed and replaced with a single school campus, according to Preservation Chicago. Plans for the now vacant school have yet to be announced, but if the building is not repurposed, it could risk disrepair and eventual demolition.

Jackson Park - Woodlawn

Jackson Park

The Obama Center could mean big changes for the Woodlawn community, but it has not been without controversy. A number of community organizations have taken issue with the use of Jackson Park land. Preservation Chicago is advocating the presidential center be built on private land.

“Jackson Park, Midway Plaisance, and the South Shore Cultural Center, fronting Lake Michigan, are among the greatest historical and natural assets of Chicago’s South Side,” according to a Preservation Chicago report

James R. Thompson Center - The Loop

Interior of James R. Thompson Center photo by Shutterstock

The James R. Thompson Center in the Loop was controversial at the time of its construction, but it remains a striking example of postmodern architecture in downtown Chicago. Designed by architect Helmut Jahn, the building is known for its distinct use of glass paneling. State Governor Bruce Rauner is attempting to sell the building, which makes its future uncertain.

Legacy Walk - Boystown

The Rainbow Pylon on North Halsted Street photo by Shutterstock

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is attempting to preserve a half-mile stretch in Boystown known as the Legacy Walk, according to the Chicago Tribune. The area has rainbow pylons dating back two decades, as well as an outdoor museum. 

“The Legacy Walk is not only a historically significant legacy of the LGBT community of Chicago, but a signal that the entire city is a safe and welcoming place for everyone,” Emanuel said in a statement.

Ravenswood Manor - Albany Park

Ravenswood Manor photo courtesy of Thshriver

The Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association (RMIA) is campaigning to perserve Ravenswood Manor, a small community within Albany Park, by securing Landmark District status. The historic neighborhood is already on the National Register of Historic Places, but RMIA wants to do more to slow the demolitions that are rewriting the history of Ravenswood Manor.

Union Station - West Loop

Interior Union Station

Union Station in the West Loop is expected to undergo a $1 billion redevelopment project. Preservation Chicago added it to its 2018 list of threatened buildings because the proposed redevelopment would add two residential towers atop the original Chicago Landmark Union Station Headhouse.

Washington Park Substation - Washington Park

Washington Park neighborhood has a lot worth preserving

Washington Park Substation in the Washington Park neighborhood is another entry on the 2018 list from Preservation Chicago. The building, built between 1928 and 1939, was designed by architect Hermann von Holst. Today, the neglected building could face demolition.

We've just released an update for neighborhoods.com!  You can click here to refresh and use the latest version.