Harley Clarke Mansion Credit: Landmarks Illinois

Architectural preservation group Landmarks Illinois released its 2016 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list Wednesday, and pointed out that a majority of them are owned by cities or institutions operating on tight budgets, thanks to the state budget crisis and the slow economic recovery.

That can make preservation and restoration a harder-than-ever sell.
“The challenge for government and institutions to maintain and invest in their own real estate, whether historic or not, is a growing budget issue where officials are facing hard choices,” according to the Landmarks Illinois announcement. “Compounding the issue, public officials often don’t view the rehabilitation of historic buildings as rectifying deferred maintenance, as a responsible long-term investment, and as a catalyst for local economic development.”

But, says Landmarks Illinois president Bonnie McDonald, reuse of these endangered structures will encourage job creation and economic development.

Three of the 11 “places” on the annual list are in the Chicago area: Pilsen’s St. Adalbert Church—along with “Chicago’s Historic Catholic Churches” as a group; Prairie School architect Walter Burley Griffin’s Cornell Store and Flats on 75th Street; and Evanston’s neglected, city-owned Harley Clarke Mansion—which, as I recently noted, has been standing empty since its long-time tenant, the Evanston Art Center, was forced to move out last year. 

Also on the list:

Central High School (and its neighborhood), Champaign
Citizens Savings and Loan Association Building, East Alton
Various historic school buildings, Highland Park and Rockford
Massac County Courthouse, Metropolis
Salem Armory, Salem
YWCA Building, Springfield
Illinois Youth Center Auditorium and Gymnasium, Saint Charles
Lakewood Farms, Wauconda

There’s more information on each, here.