THREATENED: Fulton Market Grain Silos and Historic Loft Buildings Sold for Development

Once a gritty and hardworking meatpacking district, the Fulton Market neighborhood has become a trendy with significant reinvestment and the opening of many new bars, restaurants, residences and offices. Thanks in large part to the highly successful Fulton-Randolph Market Landmark District, approved by Chicago City Council in 2015, many of the protected historic buildings are being renovated. However, many unprotected historic buildings in the West Loop beyond the Landmark District boundaries are threatened with demolition.

Shortly after Archer Daniels Midland announced plans to close the historic wheat plant in June 2017, a demolition permit was released for the full block site. This is an amazing series of buildings which should be creatively reused for an innovative development. Designed by architect William Carbys Zimmerman, the plant was built in 1897 for B.A. Eckhart Milling /Eckhart & Swan Co and has been in operation since that time. Located at 1300 West Carroll Avenue in the Fulton Market District, it has been reported to be Chicago’s last active grain elevator.

In the 1850’s, Chicago was the grain capital of the world. The mill and silo buildings are a direct connection to Chicago’s wheat industry, one of the major industries upon which Chicago was built. 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.

Preservation Chicago considers new construction, adaptive reuse, and the addition of a new rail station at the site to be mutually beneficial. We encourage Sterling Bay to pursue a creative adaptive reuse development that could recognize and celebrate this interesting building and the Chicago history it represents. This is an excellent opportunity to reuse these historic buildings in the proposed new station. The building is green-rated per the Chicago Historic Resources Survey (CHRS) which indicates that it was an important building in the Illinois Historic Structures Survey (ISS) in the 1970’s. Its inclusion in both the CHRS and the ISS confirms its architectural significance. Preservation Chicago plans to suggest to the City of Chicago that these structures be considered for Chicago Landmark designation.


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