Chicago 7 Most Endangered Buildings - 2015
A. Finkl & Sons Steel
A. Finkl Sons Steel, Photo Credit Eric Allix Rogers
Pioneer Arcade & New Apollo Theater
Pioneer Arcade, Photo Credit by Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago
Main Building Illinois Institute of Technology
Main Building IIT, 1891, Photo Credit by Eric Allix Rogers
Clarendon Park Community Center
Clarendon Park Field House, Photo Credit by Chuckman's Chicago Postcard Collection
Roeser's Bakery, neon sign circa 1946, Photo Credit by Eric Allix Rogers
South Side Masonic Temple
South Side Masonic Temple, Photo Credit by Preservation Chicago
Agudas Achim, Photo Credit by Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago
A. Finkl and Sons Steel plant represents the manufacturing and industrial might of the City of Chicago, dating from the early 20th Century. This steel mill comprising 28 acres of land centrally located and surrounded by residential and commercial community area. It represents a bygone era of manufacturing in our central cities. The site was once home to several steel forging factories, fronting the Chicago River, much like the sites on the west side of the river being connected with leather processing and tanning factories, several which still exist and one which remains operational. The purchase of the A. Finkl & Sons Company by an overseas firm and the relocation of the plant to the Southeast Side of Chicago left many of the historic buildings vacant.
A Finkl & Sons was founded by Anton Finkl, a German-born blacksmith that arrived in Chicago in 1872. He established his steel business in 1880 and later incorporated the business as A. Finkl & Sons Company and moving from various locations near the West Loop. In 1891, Finkl constructed a two-story brick flat building near the current Lincoln Park site, likely used as his residence and designed by architect H. P. Bieler as reported in the Sanitary News of April 1891. This was demolished in the 1980s.
In 1903, a permit was issued to construct a single story steam forge, measuring 144’x 60’ and designed by architect, B. Barthel and built by Clark Construction on Crooked Street, which still extends through the site, but was vacated by the city in 1916 as the plant continued to grow. Finkl then added a forge ship in 1910, which was designed by E. W. Newman according to the publication the American Contractor. A collection of Standard Oil buildings constructed by such firms as George E. Corbett & Company and the T.A. Cummings Foundry Company, in addition to Standard Oil were later absorbed into Finkl’s operations over time.
The existing long foundry building along Cortland Avenue was built for the Cummings Foundry Company, and later sold to the Tarrant Foundry Company in 1922. This building was constructed between 1910 and 1915, with a large 75’x100’ addition completed in 1916. Other structures in the area which were later purchased by Finkl were built by the Sheffield Foundry and fronted Kingsbury.
Currently the large commercial site is vacant and demolition permits have been issued for certain parts of the site, situated on the riverfront, without thought given to the many existing historic buildings. Preservation Chicago believes that adaptive reuse is possible and in many cases on the Finkl campus could preserve the industrial history within the PMD-Planned Manufacturing District.
A. Finkl & Sons Site Map History
The attached map outlines extant structures in the area of the former A. Finkl & Sons Company foundry site in 2015.
Anton Finkl moved his company to the area in 1902, building a foundry on Crooked Street in 1903. Over the next several decades, the company gradually acquired adjacent factories and foundries, forming an industrial campus by the 1980s. Individual buildings are identiﬁed by construction date and by original occupants where possible.
Along with its neighbor the New Apollo Theater, the visually-striking Pioneer Arcade is one of the last remaining anchor commercial buildings that comprise the business and entertainment center at North Avenue
and Pulaski Road (formerly Crawford Avenue).The Pioneer Arcade is also Chicago’s largest surviving 1920s-era commercial recreation center, or “rec,” and was a popular West Side venue for bowling and billiards for over 80 years.
One of many commercial bowling alleys constructed in Chicago’s 1920s building boom, the Pioneer Arcade more closely resembled some of Chicago’s early movie palaces with its palatial scale and its ornate Spanish Colonial Flevival style terra cotta ornament. Even after a decade of vacancy, the Pioneer Arcade is still a much-loved neighborhood landmark whose rehabilitation would serve as key component in the ongoing revitalization of West Humboldt Park’s commercial district.
The New Apollo Theater is an example of a fine quality neighborhood theater building constructed prior to the beginnings of the lavish Vaudeville movie palaces that became popular in the late teens and 1920s throughout the country. The building has experienced a variety of
uses, including a restaurant.
The Pioneer Arcade was completed in 1925 by Greek-born entrepreneur Constantinos “Gust” Regas (1894-1986) at a cost of $350,000. The building was designed by Danish-born architect Jens J. Jensen (1891-1969), who also designed 300 West Adams, a designated Chicago Landmark and the Guyon Hotel, a Chicago 7 Most
Threatened site in 2014. Responding to a growing public enthusiasm for indoor sports entertainment, Regas’
Pioneer Arcade was among Chicago’s largest bowling and billiards halls and was declared “one of the city’s
finest” by the Chicago Daily Tribune. The building housed a main entrance lobby with a wide central staircase,
a 1st floor pool hall with room for thirty-five billiards tables, and twenty 2nd floor bowling lanes with an adjoining lounge and a mezzanine level gallery (now missing) that could comfortably seat six-hundred spectators. The Pioneer Arcade (later Pioneer Bowl) was a West Side indoor sports destination for over 80 years, home to local industrial leagues and host to thousands of neighborhood and citywide bowling and billiards tournaments.
The building’s Pulaski Road facade is one of Chicago’s best examples of 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival style
architecture. With design elements architect Jens J. Jensen borrowed from Spanish and Spanish Colonial
architecture including an elaborate center pediment, ornate window surrounds, and balustered balconies, the
Pioneer Arcade’s exuberant terra cotta work rivals that of some of Chicago’s 1920s movie palaces.
The New Apollo Theater was designed by William A. Bennett in 1914 constructed on the site of the “Old
Olympic Theater” by three Greek owners, Peter Nasiopulos, John Ahamnos and A.K. Kalodimos for a new
commercial district forming around the intersection of North Avenue and Pulaski Road (originally known
as North 40th Avenue and later as Crawford Avenue, before becoming Pulaski Road in 1952). The theater
building, constructed of a deep red brick and terra cotta supplied by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company
came into some financial issues with the steel supplier, Wendnagel & Company which resulted in delays for
completing the two steel balconies. The balconies were finished and the theater opened with a seating capacity
The last owner of the Pioneer Arcade closed the bowling alley in the mid-2000s. The building’s current owner,
Hispanic Housing Development Corporation (HHDC), planned to incorporate the rehabbed historic Pioneer
Arcade into a larger mixed-use development adjoining the site. A downturn in the economy over the past
few years reduced the scale of the overall development plans to include only the new apartment structure
extending to the corner of North Avenue and Pulaski. The Pioneer Arcade building is currently vacant and
being considered for a possible sale.
The Pioneer Arcade was determined eligible for individual listing in the National Register of Historic Places in
2010 and meets as many as four criteria for individual local landmark designation (#1, #4, #7, and the integrity
criterion). With increasing investment in the West Humboldt Park community, a rehabilitation of the Pioneer Arcade would be an attractive project for redevelopment using national and local historic rehabilitation tax incentives.
The New Apollo Theater and the Pioneer Arcade are two fine examples of neighborhood commercial structures
that are currently vacant or underutilized. Both structures, located directly across the street from one another have suffered from deferred maintenance over time. Preservation Chicago is hopeful that listing these two structures as one of our Most Endangered may bring about an awareness of these two fine quality buildings
and bring about a preservation solution, as part of any development plans for the structures.
The Main Building, Illinois Institute of Technology, was designed by architectural firm of Patten & Fisher in 1891 and completed in 1893. It was built with funds from Philip D. Armour, a prominent entrepreneur and innovator who founded Armour & Company, the company that established Chicago as the meatpacking capital of the world. The building was the first building constructed on the campus and was designed to hold classrooms and offices for the school, then known as the Armour Institute of Technology. Main Building is a designated Chicago Landmark, which places the structure among some of Chicago’s finest and most significant buildings.
Main Building has long been a prominent structure with the Illinois Institute of Technology, vvhich was forged from the merger of the Armour Institute and Levvis Institute in 1940 and later added the Institute of Design, Kent College of Law and the Stuart School of business. The Romanesque-Revival Style building was once the prime focus of the campus, housing classrooms, offices and studios along with neighboring Machinery Hall (also a Chicago Landmark) and Burnham & Boot’s Armour Mission Building, long since demolished. The structure remains as a prominent building on the campus and a reminder of the original institution. The building’s two-story sandstone base and massive walls, extend upward five stories and constructed of red brick above the second floor. The building incorporates large arched openings and fenestration with beautiful detailing along with its high rooflines. It is a fine example of the Romanesque Style of architecture.
In the last several years, IIT has invested significant funds to repair and restore many of the iconic modern buildings of Ludwig Mies van Der Bohe on its campus. Main Building is also in need of investment and restoration. llT is now seeking a developer to restore the building for adaptive reuse.
A Request for Proposals (RFP) has been recently issued and Preservation Chicago hopes that the inclusion of this building as part of our Chicago 7 will bring about a broader awareness of this important building. We applaud the efforts of the school in issuing an RFP, and want to encourage a historic preservation reuse of the building, which is highly visible from the Dan Ryan Expressway-I-90/l-94, and located across the highway from White Sox Park.
The Clarendon Park Community Center and Field House, originally called the Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach, was built in 1916 as a modern facility for one of Chicago’s most popular lakefront beaches. Over time the land area between the building and the lakeshore was filled to extend parkland and the addition of Lake Shore Drive, which impacted the building. Today it is used as a community center and field house. Changes to the structure, particularly in 1972, greatly modified the building and hasled to water infiltration and roof issues which need to be addressed and no longer deferred, as failure to address these issues has resulted in a threat to the building’s future and use by the community.
The Clarendon Park Community Center and Field House was created to “facilitate lasting public access to the lake and to insure the health of all Chicagoans.” Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach demonstrated Chicago’s commitment to the “Reclamation of the Lake Front for the People” by Chicago Plan Commissioner Walter Moody.There was an important recognition as the Lake waters reputation shifted from the source of water-born illnesses and pollution several decades earlier and such amenities as the Clarendon Park facilities ushered in a new era and message, which reached national prominence in various publications, including the Municipal Journal from New York, dated October 19, 1916. The building, designed by city architect, C.W. Kallal in a Mediterranean Revival Style, an architectural style that was used for such buildings as Marshall and Fox’s South Shore Country Club of 1916 (now South Shore Cultural Center) and the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion in 1919.This style, also referred to as the “Italian Resort Style” was defined by tall towers capped with hipped-roofs clad in clay tiles, large entry colonnades, porticos, loggias and open-air promenades compliments this style of architecture. While often associated with warmer climates like Florida and California, this style had a resurgence in Chicago in the 1910s and 1920s, especially along Chicago’s Lakefront.
Clarendon Park shared the Italian restort style associated with the Lakefront and the architecture of the building must have resonated with buildings constructed along the Chicago shoreline from South Shore to Edgewater and the now demolished Edgewater Beach Hotel. Clarendon Park’s Municipal Bathing Beach was once one of “the largest and best equipped of all of the beaches in the city” and considered one of the most popular civic achievements of its time. The distinctive tall towers fronting Clarendon Avenue and the smaller towers fronting the beach, along with the entry colonnade and the verandas and open-air loggias were removed and or truncated during renovations to the structure in 1972 and replaced with a massive flat roof, with a metal fascia, which greatly impacted the original structure. A large indoor gymnasium was also added at this time, which co-joined the original 1916 structure.
The Clarendon Park Community Center has experienced multiple alterations over time, some of them being extensive, heavy-handed and inappropriate. Due to some of these changes and additions, water infiltration has impacted the building and the community’s ability to use several spaces and rooms. City Code issues, necessary improvements and maintenance issues continue to be deferred. The building has many programs for children, including after school programming, summer camps, art programs and is also home to the Garfield-Clarendon Model Railroad Club, which has been housed in the lower level of the building for more than 50 years. While several studies have been conducted and the community would like to see these ideas implemented, the building continues to deteriorate. Preservation Chicago would like to advocate for a renovation and restoration of the building to address deterioration and code issues and would also like to suggest that important architectural features of the building, including the original colonnade and tall towers and promenades be restored to the historic structure. Looking to the future, perhaps nearby parkland and the Cuneo Hospital buildings could be incorporated into a campus of buildings, providing expanded programming for Clarendon Park.
Chicago’s historic neon signs were once a prominent part of Chicago’s landscape and cityscape, fronting almost every commercial street throughout the city. Once a popular form or advertizing from the 1930s to the 1960s, the neon sign graced such buildings as The Drake Hotel, the Marshall Field & Company Store, Santa Fe Building, restaurants and all sorts of businesses. While many examples remain, they are becoming rare celebrated features.
Preservation Chicago has Neon Slgns Throughout the Clty been instrumental in trying to encourage retention, restoration and reuse of these signs, both recently and in the past. However the cost of maintaining them, coupled with regulations and regular inspections of these signs have sometimes resulted in their loss and replacement with other less vibrant forms advertisements.
The South Side Masonic Temple is an orange-rated building, designed by Clarence Hatzfield in 1921 and located in the Englewood community of Chicago. The building was located near to one of Chicago’s most successful neighborhood retailing and entertainment districts at 63rd and Halsted, second only to State Street in the Loop. A great many of the historic structures associated with this commercial intersection have beenlost over time. The loss of the historic 63rd and Halsted streetwall has been so significant that the commanding presence of the Masonic Temple is now visible from many vantage points near this once prominent and bustling intersection.
The structure was designed in the Classical-Revival style and originally built as the home of a fraternal organization and contained multiple meeting halls and grand spaces on its interior. Its interior reflects architectural styles of the day, including Egyptian Revival, Eastern and Moorish influences and Art Deco. The building was a popular destination for fraternal meetings and community social events over time and still has a powerful presence as viewed from several blocks away. Since the 1980s, the building has experienced vacancy and a wide variety of failedproposals, including an alternate high school for inner-city youth. The South Side Masonic Temple’s close proximity to many new buildings of the Kennedy-King College Campus have led to speculation over time that the City Colleges of Chicago could redevelop and repurpose this building for an educational use and include it into their campus. A new Whole Foods grocery store has broken ground nearby at 63rd and Halsted and we are hopeful that perhaps the Masonic Temple can be part of a new vision for the community.
The South Side Masonic Temple is an extraordinary building and a long-time landmark in Englewood, despite many years of vacancy and deferred maintenance. Unfortunately, the structure, that first appeared on our Chicago 7 Most Threatened Buildings List in 2004, continues to deteriorate and is exposed to the elements. It has also been on the Chicagoland Watchlist of our sister organization, Landmarks Illinois in 2003-2004 and 2009-2010.
Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation was designed by the architectural firm of Dubin & Eisenberg and constructed in Chicago’s Uptown community in 1922. Changing demographics within recent decades have led to a dwindling of the congregation. The result has been deferred maintenance to the building over the past several years. The building has also been recently vacated.
Described as “the last grand Chicago synagogue” its construction was a result of a merging of two congregations, the First Hungarian Congregation, known as “Agudath Achim” founded in 1884 on Chicago’s West Side and the former Uptown community based North Shore Congregation known as the “Sons of lsrael”.
Agudas Achim Synagogue is a magnificent structure, built in a combination of styles and detailing including influences of the Romanesque-Revival style (particularly at the arched entry to the synagogue) and with Spanish and Art Deco influences on the upper walls and cresting. However, the massing, volume and overall composition of the building was considered thoroughly modern for its time in 1922. This design effect still presents a stark contrast with the surrounding buildings with its massive walls and side setbacks of cream-colored brick and stone
The interior of the building IS highly ornamented with an impressive 2 200 seat sanctuary located on the second floor of the building The sanctuary with its grand volume, high clerestory and sloping ceiling features a beautiful chancel archway and an ark cabinet designed and commissioned by the architect of the synagogue, Henry Dubin and constructed in Italian mosaic tiles by German craftsman its brilliant and intricate patterns of rich gold blue and green colors radiate beautiful hues of color which stand in front of a large arched stained glass window containing some of the same j9WG| tones as the ark cabinet
The building had been recently listed for sale and it is thought that a developer may purchase the structure and that the historic property may be threatened by a potential demolition