The Washington Park Substation, located at 6141 S. Prairie Avenue, is an outstanding example of the early electrical substations built across the Chicago in the early 20th century to electrify the city. This substation is larger than most as it was built to distribute high voltage power to smaller neighborhood substations.
Constructed in stages between 1928 and 1939, this Classical Revival building was designed by notable architect Hermann von Holst. This large and elegant industrial building features a dramatic series of arched window openings topped with a series of repeated cadence of smaller windows capped by a limestone string course. The facade elements culminate in the middle section of the building front elevation being defined by three soaring arches flanked by two pairs of columns. Carved limestone decorative ornament incandescent light bulbs repeat between the arches on the façade.
The Washington Park Substation is an orange-rated building in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey. The required 90-Day Demolition Delay provides an opportunity for alternate plans to emerge that might protect the significant historic building from demolition. The substation currently faces the threat of active demolition as a permit was applied for on March 14, 2018.
Since the inclusion of the Washington Park Substation as a 2018 7 Most Endangered, Preservation Chicago has been in communication with other preservation-oriented developers interested in the Washington Park Substation, including the Cook County Land Bank.
Preservation Chicago strongly urges the 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran, the City’s Department of Planning and Development/Historic Preservation Division and staff to allow the 90-Day Demolition Delay for orange-rated structures to be implemented according to the ordinance and not to release a Demolition Permit prior to the expiration of the full 90 days.