Archer Daniels Midland has announced plans to close the historic wheat plant and what is reported to be Chicago’s last active grain elevator located on West Carroll Avenue in the Fulton Market district.
The plant was built in 1897 by B.A. Eckhart Milling and has been in operation since that time. It is a direct connection to Chicago’s wheat industry, one of the industries upon which Chicago was built. In the 1850’s, Chicago was the grain capital of the world.
As poet Carl Sandburg wrote in his legendary poem Chicago,
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders
Once a gritty and hardworking meatpacking district, the Fulton Market neighborhood has become a trendy neighborhood with significant investment and new bars, restaurants, residences, and offices. Many protected historic buildings are being renovated while many unprotected historic buildings are threatened with demolition.
The wheat mill employs approximately 60 people and its closing is evidence of further erosion to Chicago’s industrial base. If it must close, Preservation Chicago would like to see a creative adaptive reuse project that could recognize and celebrate this interesting building and the Chicago history it represents.