Preservation Chicago names its seven most endangered buildings of 2024

Preserved for Perpetuity

Preservation Chicago names its seven most endangered buildings of 2024

The Century and Consumers Building is one of the seven buildings deemed endangered by Preservation Chicago. (Warren LeMay/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Since 2003, Preservation Chicago has annually issued a list of seven historically significant buildings and public assets at-risk of demolition. The advocacy group’s mission is sounding the alarm bell on threatened structures to save them from the wrecking ball and preserve them for perpetuity. The historic buildings in Preservation Chicago’s purview range in style, varying from art deco to postmodern. This year’s cohort includes office buildings, places of worship, and industrial buildings with a rich history. Each of the seven buildings are shared below with a brief description.

The Century & Consumer Building
Holabird & Roche Architects | Jenney, Mundie & Jensen | 1913–15

The Century and Consumers Building (Warren LeMay/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

William Bryce Mundie was an apprentice of William Le Baron Jenney, otherwise remembered as the father of the American skyscraper. With Jenney, Mundie designed The Consumers Building at 202 South State Street in the Loop, completed in 1913. The skyscraper is one of Chicago’s first steel frame buildings, a typology which the city became famous for. Two years later, in 1915, Holabird & Roche completed a 16-story tower that connected to the Consumers Building. The project is an important feat from the Chicago School of Architecture, but the towers are presently vacant. In 2022, Preservation Chicago caught wind of a $52 million demolition and replacement plan for The Century & Consumers Building, which the group seeks to stymie.

street view of chicago vocational school
Chicago Vocational School (Courtesy Google Maps)

Chicago Vocational School
John Christensen | 1938–41

The Chicago Vocational School is today called Chicago Vocational Career Academy. The art deco building was completed between 1938 and 1941 by John Christensen. Preservation Chicago describes the edifice as among the most notable examples of art deco/art moderne architecture in the city of Chicago. The WPA project was once remembered as “The Pride of South Side.” After years of deferred maintenance, the building only serves one-tenth of its built occupancy capacity. Preservation Chicago is advocating for the building’s renovation and restored usage.

view of church
Strangers’ Home Missionary Baptist Church (Courtesy Google Maps )

Strangers’ Home Missionary Baptist Church
Mural: William Walker | Architect: John Neal Tilton | 1901/1974

Movie buffs will recognize Strangers’ Home Missionary Baptist Church from Jordan Peele’s 2021 horror film, Candyman. Strangers’ Home Missionary Baptist Church was completed in 1901 by John Neal Tilton, an example of Gothic Revival architecture. Overtime, it served a Baptist congregation from Cabrini Green, a now demolished public housing development north of the Loop. In 1974, muralist William Walker painted a spectacular relief above the interior altar and on its front facade. Cabrini Green was controversially demolished in 2011, but the Strangers’ Home Missionary Baptist Church remained. Walker’s exterior mural has since been whitewashed, but Preservation Chicago hopes for it to be restored to its original glory.

Ogden Keeler Industrial Buildings
R.C. Fletcher | Alfred S. Alschuler | 1916–21

Three historic factory buildings situated along West Ogden and South Keeler Avenues are at-risk of demolition. The buildings, by R.C. Fletcher and Alfred S. Alschuler, completed between 1916 and 1921, are examples of the Prairie School and Classical Revival. The trio of Ogden Keeler Industrial Buildings were once headquarters for the Western Felt Works and the Turner Manufacturing Company. Preservation Chicago has advocated for the buildings’ renovation and repurposing.

street view of townhouses
The 2300 block of North Sheffield Avenue (Courtesy Google Maps)

Lincoln Park Courtyard Building + Four Freestanding Townhouses
Maher & McGraw | John Morrell | 1892–1926

In Lincoln Park, a handful of residential buildings completed between 1892 and 1926 are at-risk; namely four freestanding Romanesque Revival townhouses by Maher & McGraw that front the 2300 block of North Sheffield Avenue, and a courtyard building by John Morrell. Last year, De Paul University proposed demolishing these combined five structures to build a new athletic center building. Preservation Chicago is calling upon De Paul to choose a different location for its facility.

Schulze Baking Company Building
John Ahlschlager & Sons | 1914

old postcard of Schulze Baking Company Factory
The Schulze Baking Company Building (TonyTheTiger/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

At 40 East Garfield Boulevard in Washington Park stands an exemplar of Sullivanesque architecture, the Schulze Baking Company Building. The edifice completed in 1914 by John Ahlschlarger & Sons features beautiful blue cladding and floral ornamentation. In 2004, the plant closed, and in 2015 plans amassed to convert the building into a data center. Preservation Chicago is seeking a preservation-friendly owner to ensure a safe future for the building.

view of swift mansion
Swift Mansion prior to the December 2023 fire (Courtesy Google Maps)

Swift-Morris Mansion
James R. Willett & Alfred Pashley | 1892–1917

A major fire broke out on December 3, 2023 at the Swift-Morris Mansion at 4500 South Michigan Avenue in Bronzeville, South Side Chicago. The building, completed between 1892 and 1917 by James R. Willett and Alfred Pashley, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 for its Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne motifs. The 2023 fire badly damaged the buildings wooden interiors. Today, the building is in the national register, but it isn’t a local Chicago landmark. Preservation Chicago hopes that changes and building is renovated.