The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s efforts to preserve and promote the state’s heritage paid off in 2016 with 25 properties being added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The sites recognized are scattered from Chicago to Belleville to the tiny village of New Burnside. They include a farmhouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a Chicago manufacturing district, a one-room schoolhouse and a church that helped create modern gospel music.
Sites are added to the register by the National Park Service based on recommendations from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which houses the state’s Historic Preservation Office. The 25 sites (plus expansions of two properties already on the register) were added throughout 2016.
“Each of these sites tells a unique story that is a part of the rich fabric of Illinois history,” said Heidi Brown-McCreery, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. “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 sites 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 have to 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.
The 2016 additions to the National Register from Illinois were:
Big Woods School, Aurora, Du Page County
The school, built in 1918, was a high-quality version of what was considered to be a “modern” one-room schoolhouse. It was designed according to standards set by the state of Illinois to ensure that country schools had adequate light, ventilation, heat, and met safety and sanitary requirements. The community’s dedication to the school was proven when it was threatened with demolition. Concerned citizens organized and in 2014 created a non-for-profit foundation which purchased the school to preserve it.
Bristol Congregational Church, Yorkville, Kendall County
The Bristol Congregational Church is a significant example of rural church architecture exhibiting Greek Revival and Gothic Revival influences. It is Yorkville’s oldest surviving non-residential building and the city’s only remaining 19th century church. Constructed in 1855, it has been a prominent landmark, making a strong contribution to the community’s sense of place.
Ford House, Aurora, Kane County
The Sam and Ruth Van Sickle Ford House, constructed in 1949-1950, is nationally significant as a masterwork of twentieth century architect Bruce Goff, a leader of the American Organic design movement. It displays many of the important qualities in his work, including a strong underlying geometry and complex spatial variety and a creative use of materials. From the Quonset hut ribs that give the house its basic form to the glass wall enclosing the main living space, it demonstrates uninhibited openness to exploring new uses for materials.
Middle Avenue Historic District, Aurora, Kane County
Two major elements contributed greatly to Aurora’s success: railroads and industry. The Middle Avenue Historic District, with properties dating from the 1890s to the 1950s, represents a unique confluence of the two. It developed around a specific railroad route known as the “Alley Job,” which transported material and products for manufacturers, distributors and warehouses. The Alley Job continued to run well into the 1980s, by which time most industries on the line were shuttered or relocated.
Muirhead House, Plato Center, Kane County
The Robert and Elizabeth Muirhead House, near Plato Center, Ill., was designed by noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is an excellent example of the Usonian style he developed late in his career. Wright completed the design for the Muirhead House in 1951, and it was built between 1951 and 1953.
Potter and Barker Grain Elevator, La Fox, Kane County
The property is significant for grain handling, which was an important commercial enterprise in the La Fox area. The elevator was built in 1868 and operated until 1945. While the Potter and Barker Grain Elevator was moved 260 feet west from its original location, it is current location is compatible with the property’s historical importance.
Sloan House, Elmhurst, DuPage County
The William and Jennette Sloane House was designed by Prairie School architect Walter Burley Griffin and completed in 1909. The house features stucco walls with dark-stained boards, horizontal windows and a relatively high-pitched roof, characteristics commonly found in Griffin’s earlier works.
Van Hagen House, Barrington Hills, Lake County
The George E. Van Hagen House, built around 1912, is significant as an estate house that combines characteristics of the Arts & Crafts movement with references to Federal architecture. Resting on five acres overlooking a pond and forested surroundings, the house expresses the lifestyle of a respected and successful entrepreneur, typical of many early residents of the community.
Arcade Building, Riverside
The Arcade, built in 1871, was the first commercial building in Riverside and among the first commercial structures in the United States specifically conceived as an integral part of a planned community. A precursor to the modern shopping center, its purpose was to give local residents easy access to the conveniences of everyday life. In 1993, the Village of Riverside designated the Arcade Building a local landmark.
Brainerd Bungalow Historic District, Chicago
Early Chicago bungalow neighborhoods like Brainerd allowed working class families to own thoughtfully designed homes and build quiet residential communities. While a wide range of architects, developers and ethnicities contributed to Brainerd, the steady, rhythmic streetscapes create a strong and consistent architectural fabric. With over 500 brick bungalows, the district possesses a high degree of architectural and urban integrity.
Brigham House, Glencoe
Completed in 1909, the Edmund D. Brigham House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the Prairie style. It is the only local Prairie School-style house constructed in reinforced, board-formed concrete.
Central Manufacturing District – Original East District, Chicago
The Original East District of the Central Manufacturing District (CMD), located in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, was first developed in 1902. It is believed to be the country’s first industrial park and became the national model during the interwar years. By 1915, 100 companies had located in the 185-acre Original East District, and the CMD developed several additional industrial parks throughout the city and neighboring communities.
Davis Theater, Chicago
The theater is Lincoln Square’s sole surviving historic movie house and is among the oldest and longest-running movie theaters in the city. Originally the Pershing Theatre, it was designed by architect Walter Ahlschlager and is one of the last remaining theaters associated with Lubliner & Trinz, the prominent 1910s and 1920s Chicago movie theater chain. From 1918 until the 1970s, the Davis Theater served as an important part of the neighborhood, even embracing its local heritage by showing German-language films.
Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago
Constructed in 1898-99, the building is the last one completed and designed by prominent Chicago architect Dankmar Adler. In 1932 the first modern gospel choir is credited with having performed at the church, and with the performance came a new type of sacred song infused with “bluesy” rhythms. Under the direction of musical pioneers, including Thomas Andrew Dorsey, the “Father of Gospel Music,” the church’s gospel choir contributed to a new style of American music.
Lemont Downtown Historic District, Lemont
From canal-oriented industries, saloons and shops of the 19th century to the arrival of chain stores in the 20th century, Lemont’s historic downtown served as the community’s first major business center. It was also the governmental heart of Lemont, with the Village Hall, U.S. Post Office and municipal service buildings. The district also includes significant commercial architecture representative of 19th and 20th century business districts in smaller Illinois cities.
Overton Elementary School, Chicago
Located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood on the city’s South Side, the Anthony Overton Elementary School is significant for representing a modern approach to education reform. It was built to serve Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods, primarily from nearby low-income public housing. The school is also important as an example of Mid-Century Modern design. The building was completed in 1963 and designed by architects Perkins & Will, especially well known for their modern school designs.
Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago
Commonly known as the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, Third Church of Christ, Scientist, was built in 1901 and designed by Chicago architect Hugh Garden. It displays both traditional classical elements such as the temple-front and columns and more “modern” motifs like highly abstracted and decorative geometric patterns. The church is a Chicago Landmark.
Downtown Aledo Historic District, Aledo, Mercer County
Since its founding 1855, the district endures as the heart of the community. The district, which includes the Mercer County Courthouse, a Carnegie library, an opera house and a train station, is significant for its history and the variety of architectural styles represented, ranging from the mid-19th through the mid-20th centuries.
Bridge at Thirteenth Street, St. Francisville, Lawrence County
The 181-foot bridge, a good example of wooden timber construction, also is distinctive for its trestle bents. It was built in 1909 by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Company to allow for safe and effective travel over the railroad track, which has since been removed. In 1950, a steel beam was added to the main span. While now categorized as a hybrid, the bridge undoubtedly has the identifying characteristics of a “timber stringer,” one of few left in the vicinity.
Broadview Mansion, Normal, McLean County
Built in 1906 for its only private owners, Bird and Margaret Van Leer, the home is significant for its eclectic blend of architectural styles. Designed by Bloomington’s renowned designer and builder Paul O. Moratz, the house shows influences of Prairie school, Craftsman, and Colonial Revival styles. The property’s 2.9-acre lot includes a Romanesque-style chime tower.
Dupont House, New Burnside, Johnson County
John Dupont was an effective politician who won county offices and participated in governmental organization in Reynoldsburg, New Burnside and Creal Springs. The house, built in 1872, is the only known elaborate, two-story Italianate structure to have survived from the 1870s in Johnson County. In addition to his political pursuits, Dupont operated several mills and expanded into coal mining.
Freeport City Hall, Freeport, Stephenson County
Constructed in 1899, the building served as Freeport’s seat of government until 2011. Designed by David S. Schureman, the Portage red stone building is an excellent example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the building is the cornice frieze inscribed with names of figures from literature and science. Legend holds that since the architect was not allowed to place his name on the building’s cornerstone, he adorned it with names arranged so that their first letters would spell out his own name.
Hauge Lutheran Church, Sheridan, La Salle County
The church is located in Norway, Ill., the country’s first permanent community of Norwegian immigrants. From the 1830s to the early 1900s, the town acted as a springboard of sorts for Norwegian settlement in Illinois and the adjoining states. Constructed in 1847, Hauge Lutheran Church was a centerpiece of the community, physically and socially. The church continues to play a role in preserving Norwegian culture in its current use as the Norsk Museum.
Marquette Apartments, Peoria, Peoria County
Marquette Apartments represents multiple-family dwellings in the pattern of American building traditions. With a construction date of 1924, it is indicative of multiple-family housing built between the wars. It is the only building of its type in Peoria remaining from that period. Marquette Apartments provided inexpensive housing for workers in the commercial, mercantile and government buildings of Peoria’s central business district.
Turkey Hill Grange Hall, Belleville, St. Clair County
The Order of Patrons of Husbandry, also known as the Grange, is the nation’s oldest agriculture advocacy group. It spoke out on railroad regulations, organized farmer co-ops and advocated for temperance and women’s right to vote. Turkey Hill Grange #1370, organized in 1874, is the earliest remaining grange in St. Clair County. The current hall, dating from 1937 – its third on the original site – is also significant as a good example of the Classical Revival style.
In addition to the new listings, two properties already on the register were expanded. They are the Central Springfield Historic District and the Garfield Farmstead and Tavern in the Kane County village of Campton Hills.
For more information on the National Register application process, visit http://www.illinois.gov/ihpa/Preserve/Pages/Places.aspx