National Recognition for Illinois History

Ed Cross
National Recognition for Illinois History
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Efforts by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to preserve and promote the state's heritage paid off in 2017 with 25 properties being added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The places recognized are scattered across the state and include two archaeological sites along the Cherokee Trail of Tears, a Chicago movie palace, and the place where Lincoln and Douglas met to schedule their senatorial debates.

Places are added to the register by the National Park Service based on recommendations from the IDNR State Historic Preservation Office. The 25 places (plus amendments to four historic districts already listed in the register) were added throughout 2017.

"These new additions to the National Register of Historic Places each helps tell the story of Illinois through the rich history of our state," said IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal. "Thanks to the efforts to local community leaders and local preservationists, we are delighted to help 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 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 2017 additions to the National Register from Illinois were:


Baptist Retirement Home, Maywood, Cook County  
The Baptist Retirement Home was built to provide modern and comfortable accommodations for elderly Baptists from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.  Constructed in stages, the building's original 1929-1930 section is a fine Tudor Revival-style institutional building. Its later 1955 and 1965 portions, which exemplify the modernist architectural trends of the post-World War II era, are representative of important changes occurring in the long-term care of older people.

Congress Theater, Chicago, Cook County          
With its exuberant terra cotta facade, four-story high lobby, and auditorium that originally sat nearly 3,000 spectators, the Congress Theater is one of Chicago's largest and most intact surviving 1920s neighborhood movie palaces. Designed in the Italian Renaissance style by Fridstein & Co. in 1926, the historic theater is also one of the last remaining theaters associated with Lubliner & Trinz, a prominent Chicago movie theater chain. The Congress Theater is also a Chicago Landmark.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, LaGrange, Cook County
Emmanuel Episcopal Church is an excellent example of Late Gothic Revival architecture as shown in its emphasis on verticality, cruciform floorplan, stepped buttresses, and crocketed spire.  The property is also recognized for its artistic value as demonstrated in its stained glass and fixtures.  The complex includes the chapel (1925), the Parish House (1938), and the South Building (1962), all designed by John Neal Tilton, Jr.  Emmanuel Episcopal Church retains a high level of integrity as few physical changes have been made to the complex since its construction.

Flower Technical School for Girls, Chicago, Cook County  
Lucy Flower Technical High School for Girls, constructed in 1927, was the only all-girl public school and the only female vocational school in Chicago's history.  “Flower Tech,” also significant for its Gothic Revival architecture, was run by a female superintendent, principal, and all-female faculty.  The school’s curriculum combined home economics with technical training for the female workforce, whether working at home or in the factory. As Chicago's only open-enrollment high school for girls, Flower Tech furthered career and college ambitions and provided many students one of their only racially-integrated experiences in an otherwise segregated city.   Beginning in the mid-1960s, the school's enrollment declined and the curriculum was altered.  The school went co-educational in 1978 and closed in 2004.

Kuppenheimer House, Winnetka, Cook County
The Louis B. Kuppenheimer, Jr. House, built in 1937-38, was designed by David Adler, long recognized as one of Chicago's finest country house architects.  Predominantly French Renaissance on the exterior, the house combines historical French influences with Classical Revival and Art Deco elements resulting in a highly original design.

Lawson House YMCA, Chicago, Cook County    
As a vital flagship of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, the Victor F. Lawson House YMCA reflected the organization’s expansion campaign in the 1920s to place modern, fully-equipped buildings with lodgings and athletic, social, and educational facilities in every city neighborhood. The 1931 Art Deco tower was designed by noted architects Perkins, Chatten and Hammond, who employed modern construction, styling and amenities to meet the needs of this important social organization.

Motley School, Chicago, Cook County       
The Renaissance Revival-style John Lothrop Motley School, designed by Chicago Board of Education architect John J. Flanders in 1884, was a product of changing laws and standards regarding childhood education. From the 1880s through the early 1900s, the city’s public schools gained thousands of new students as rural farming families moved into the city, new populations arrived from Europe, and as new laws were passed to require school attendance and to reduce child labor. The school’s design incorporated the prevailing concepts of school architecture in the late-nineteenth century, with its masonry construction, central hallway plan, and classrooms with tall windows for ample light and ventilation. A south addition with nine additional classrooms was added in 1898 and designed by Flanders’ school board architect successor, Normand Smith Patton.

Peabody School, Chicago, Cook County   
Designed by Chicago architect W. August Fiedler in 1894, the Elizabeth Peabody School is a well-preserved example of a late nineteenth century public school building with elements of Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque styles.  The overall form and plan was based on established school designs of the time. Ornamentation on the building is refined and includes a substantial limestone base with an arched central main entrance, decorative brickwork, limestone trim, terra cotta details, and a pressed metal cornice.

Residential Hotels in Chicago, 1880-1930 Multiple Property Cover Document 
Residential hotels constructed in Chicago between roughly 1880 and 1930 served as an indispensable but rarely celebrated component of the city’s housing stock.  During the first decades of the twentieth century, Chicago’s population more than doubled.  The need for housing resulted in the development of the Chicago bungalow belt, larger courtyard apartment buildings, and the creation of sub-standard tenement conditions in many of the city’s oldest residential neighborhoods. In the midst of this tremendous expansion and proliferation, residential hotels provided an alternate housing option for middle-class and blue collar workers that challenged the conventional assumptions about what makes an American home.  A Multiple Property Cover Document that established the significance of these properties was approved by the National Park Service.   Four residential hotels that met the qualifications outlined in the document were listed in the National Register:  the Carling Hotel (1926), the Covent Hotel (1915), the Mark Twain Hotel (1930) and the Marshall Hotel (1926).

Shoreline Apartments, Chicago, Cook County    
The Shoreline Apartments, in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, is a noteworthy example of a 1920s-era tall apartment building, a particularly significant building type in the history of Chicago’s lakefront neighborhoods. Prominent local architect Henry K. Holsman (1866-1963) was responsible for the building’s Gothic Revival design. 

Lake Ellyn Park, Glen Ellyn, Du Page County 
Created from the grounds of Hotel Glen Ellyn, Lake Ellyn Park was the first public park established by the newly-created Glen Ellyn Parks District in 1919, and was among the earliest parks within the village. Centered within the park is Lake Ellyn, a 10-acre lake created in 1889 as part of the grounds for the Hotel Glen Ellyn. The park’s Recreation House is the oldest extant structure within the Glen Ellyn Park District's system of park buildings. Designed by local architect Frederick Gail Walker, the building was erected with the assistance of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and completed in 1937.  Lake Ellyn Park continues to serve as a popular recreation destination for residents of the Village of Glen Ellyn and surrounding suburban communities.


Aplington House, Polo, Ogle County                   
The Zenas Aplington House is significant for its association with Zenas Aplington, Polo’s town founder. In 1852, Aplington offered his farmland to the Illinois Central Railroad.  The property of Aplington’s former farm now comprises 17 city blocks in the center of Polo, including his house, which was built in 1853 and is excellent example of American folk architecture with Greek Revival influences.  Aplington, who later was elected to the state senate, lived there until his death in 1862.

Bridges Tavern and Store Site, Buncombe vicinity, Johnson County   
Campground Church and Cemetery Site, Anna, Union County                    
Between 1837 and 1839, over 10,000 Cherokee traveled along the “Trail of Tears,” as part of their forced emigration to the West.  Two Illinois properties associated with the trail’s history were listed in 2017.  The John Bridges Tavern and Store site contains the archaeological remains of a nineteenth century tavern; a nineteenth century log building known as the “Wayside Store;” a spring that would have provided water for Cherokee travelers and their livestock; and, a series of post-1940 structures. Oral histories from the 1930s state that the Cherokee purchased supplies at the Bridges Site Wayside Store while traveling along the Trail of Tears.

The Campground Church and Cemetery Site was used by members of the local Presbyterian church for religious camp meetings and the burial of the deceased children of at least one member of the congregation. Oral histories collected in the 1930s indicate that local settlers allowed the Cherokee to camp at this location and bury their dead in a grave site next to the deceased children of congregation member George Hileman.  Two springs that the Cherokee used to obtain water for themselves and animals are located in a wooded area south of the church. 

Bryant House, Bement, Piatt County
The Francis E. Bryant House has statewide significance as the meeting place where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas discussed and finalized the schedule and format of seven planned senatorial debates in each congressional district in Illinois.  Though Lincoln lost to Douglas in the senatorial race, these debates -- later referred to as “The Great Debates of 1858” -- are credited with elevating Lincoln to a national political stage and forming the earliest political foundations for a presidential bid. The property, purchased by the State of Illinois in 1947, is also a good example of the Hall and Parlor folk building type, which was typical of housing popular at the time of the town’s founding.

Edward Chipman Public Library, Momence, Kankakee County  
The Edward Chipman Public Library is the only library building ever erected in Momence.  A library was established in 1901, but did not have a permanent home until prominent local citizen Edward Chipman bequeathed funds for the construction of the building, which subsequently was named in his honor. Built in 1912, the library has continuously served the community in that capacity to the present day. 

Compton House, Springfield, Sangamon County    
The Dr. Charles Compton House, designed by the Springfield architectural firm Helmle & Helmle in 1926, is an excellent example of Tudor Revival architecture. The style, largely popular in the 1920s, was sometimes referred to as “Stockbroker Tudor,” a reference to the newly acquired wealth amassed during the country’s booming economy. Tudor Revival characteristics displayed in the Compton House include its steeply-pitched gables, massive chimneys, and mixture of false half-timbers, stucco, brick, and stone.

Garfield Elementary School, Moline, Rock Island County          
First designed by local architect Olof Z. Cervin and completed in 1902, the Garfield Elementary School originally served as one of two public elementary schools for the city of Moline, and as the primary public elementary school for the Moline community of Stewartville.  At the time it was completed, the school building incorporated a variety of specialized spaces designed to serve the needs of a wide range of pupils, reflecting the expansion of public school education in Moline and the changing ideals surrounding primary and secondary education. The 1955 addition to the original school was designed by William F. Bembrock in the Mid-Century Modern style.

Granite City YMCA, Granite City, Madison County 
Organized by the leaders of industry and manufacturing in Granite City, the major economic driving force of the community, the Granite City YMCA was open to the public in 1926.  Offering a host of educational programs, athletic and extracurricular activities, and charitable works, the Granite City YMCA provided a positive outlet for the young men and women of the town and offered space for other organizations like the United Service Organization (USO), Young Men in Industry, and Salvation Army to do their work. With its pinnacles, crockets, and Tudor arches, the building is significant for its Late Gothic Revival design -- the only example of its kind in Granite City. 

La Salle Downtown Commercial District, La Salle, La Salle County
Downtown LaSalle has retained its commercial buildings representing types and styles typical of 19th and 20th century business districts in smaller Illinois cities.  Founded in 1837 as the terminus of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, LaSalle experienced rapid growth following the waterway’s completion in 1848 and the extension of railroad lines starting in the 1850s. Its role as a local transportation hub spurred industry and prosperity in the late 19th century.  In the 1910s and 1920s, the downtown district expanded northward where a number of large, freestanding commercial and public buildings were erected. This period saw the arrival of department stores, chain stores, garages and automobile dealerships. Over the years, buildings were adapted to meet new uses, most notably in the 1930s and 1940s when casinos flourished throughout the town, which came to be known as “Little Reno.”

Lumpkin Heights and Elm Ridge Subdivision Historic District, Mattoon, Coles County
The Lumpkin Heights and Elm Ridge Subdivision Historic District exhibits the characteristics of rural, early automobile, and post-World War II suburban neighborhoods executed by private developers, often using the assistance of government agencies.  The chronological development and character of the physical resources within the district reflect national trends occurring in residential neighborhoods from the late nineteenth century through post-World War II.  The district contains a variety of architectural styles and building types, including a 19th Century Second Empire residence and notable examples of Italian Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Prairie School, Minimal Traditional, Ranch and Contemporary.

Watson House, Polo, Ogle County                   
The David and Julia Watson House, built in 1900 and designed by Rockford architect E. F. Dowling, is a substantial Shingle Style residence.  The Shingle Style, developed in New England in the early 1880s, is uniquely American.  Its single defining feature, a continuous wall surface clad in wood shingles, became ubiquitous in upper class suburban America and in resort and vacation communities throughout the country in the 1880s and 90s.  Inside and out, the Watson home exhibits many elements that define the style, including a wide and low building profile, long open porch in the front, shingle-cladding, a central hall with inglenook, and fine woodworking throughout.

In addition to the new listings, the nominations for four historic districts were amended.  The boundaries for the West Loop – LaSalle Street Historic District in Chicago and the North Geneva and Central Geneva Historic Districts in Geneva were amended.  The nomination for the Central Manufacturing District – Original East District in Chicago was revised and approved, elevating the property’s significance from local to statewide.  

For more information on the National Register application process, visit
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