“A campaign to save two historic buildings on State Street from the wrecking ball took a step forward today when a city panel unanimously approved proposals to assign landmark status to the properties.
“The federal government, which owns the two early 20th-century towers — the Century Building at 202 S. State St. and the Consumers Building at 220 S. State St. — wants to tear them down to create a security buffer zone to protect the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse next door. Federal legislation approved last year included $52 million to cover the cost of demolishing the buildings.
“But preservationists have been imploring federal officials to reconsider that plan, pushing a proposal to turn the buildings into an archives center, a use they say would pose little security threat.
“‘To tear them down is a disgrace and an insult to the proud history of Chicago’s architectural significance,’ Chicago architect Dirk Lohan — who worked on the design of the Dirksen building with his grandfather, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe — said at a meeting today of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.
“The commission voted unanimously to assign preliminary landmark status to the two Loop buildings, but the process is far from over. And even if the buildings do become official city landmarks, the federal government has the constitutional authority to raze them anyway. But a pressure campaign could persuade the feds to change their mind.
“‘This is an important step because the federal government and (General Services Administration) have not really heard clearly from the city of Chicago that the buildings are significant,’ said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, an advocacy group that has been leading the charge to save the structures.
“‘It sends a clear message to the GSA and federal government that they should be looking for alternative uses for these buildings and how important they are for the cityscape,’ Miller said.
“The GSA, the agency that oversees federal buildings, says it is ‘formally neutral’ about the landmark proposals. Because the properties sit within the Loop Retail Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the agency is required to hold a series of its own hearings on its demolition plans. That process began last fall and is expected to wrap up in early 2024.
“The Century and Consumers buildings have led Preservation Chicago’s annual list of most endangered spaces two years in a row. Designed by Jenny, Mundie & Jensen, the Consumers Building, a 22-story structure at 220 S. State St., opened in 1913. The Century Building, a 16-story building at 202 S. State St. designed by Holabird & Roche, opened two years later. The two structures represent the final years of the Chicago School of architecture, before the sleek, art deco style became popular.(Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 4/13/23)
- Preservationists notch a victory in campaign to save State Street buildings, Alby Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/13/23
- City landmarks panel backs preservation of State Street towers; The decision by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks goes to the City Council for final action is not binding on the federal government, which owns the properties. But it could generate support for preserving the early 20th century towers, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/13/23
- Chicago’s Century and Consumers Buildings Named to List of Nation’s Most Endangered Historic Sites, Patty Wetli, WTTW Chicago, 5/9/23
- The fight over State Street historic buildings gets a national platform, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/9/23
- Landmark Illinois unveils its list of endangered historical places, CBS Chicago, 5/4/23
- Two Chicago buildings make US ‘Most Endangered Historic Places’ list, Alonzo Small, WGN 9, 5/10/23
- Preliminary landmark designation approved for Century & Consumers Buildings; Don’t get too excited, the feds could ultimately still tear them down, Lukas Kugler, Urbanize Chicago, 4/14/23
- 590 of pages of comments in support of landmarking the Century and Consumers Buildings submitted for the Commission on Chicago Landmarks hearing
- 202-220 S. State St. Federal Properties Resources Website including facade and structural reports for the Century and Consumers Buildings, U.S. General Services Administration website
- Fight the power: City must move quickly on landmark status for fed-owned Loop skyscrapers; A preliminary designation hopefully would force the Century and Consumers buildings to be redeveloped rather than demolished, Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, 4/11/23
- City panel revives landmark proposal for State Street towers, Alby Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 4/10/23
- Landmarks panel to consider recognition of 202 and 220 S. State buildings; Action by the city to preserve two unoccupied Loop towers could make it harder for the federal government, which owns the buildings, to tear them down as it wants, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/10/23
- Federal Government Plans to Demolish Century-Old Building Next to Threatened Historic Skyscrapers, Nick Blumberg, WTTW Chicago, 4/6/23
- Federal agency to raze three-story building on State Street; The more than century-old structure is between two taller buildings that preservationists are fighting to save. The General Services Administration said the smaller building has a facade that could collapse, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/6/23
- Demolition of building located between historic skyscrapers scheduled to start in the Loop next week, Adam Harrington, CBS Chicago 4/6/23
- Feds plan demolition between historic State Street skyscrapers, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 4/5/23
- Landmark commission could save State Street towers, Federal government plans to demolish historic buildings for security needs, The Real Deal, 4/11/23
- Preservation Chicago Reveals 2023’S Most Endangered Buildings List, Ian Achong, Chicago YIMBY, 4/11/23
- State Street sidewalk closed at Adams; feds cite pedestrian danger at buildings it wants to raze; Fences were erected days after Preservation Chicago put the buildings at 202 and 220 S. State St. on its ‘most endangered’ list, calling for efforts to save them, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 3/4/23
- Preservation Chicago 2023 Chicago 7 Most Endangered: The Century and Consumers Buildings
- Feds urged not to ‘waste’ vintage State Street buildings, Four early 20th-century buildings that the federal government wants to demolish should be saved and rehabbed, commenters at a Thursday evening hearing argued, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/10/22
- GSA begins public process for Century/Consumers Buildings; The federal agency wants to demolish both towers, Lukas Kugler, Urbanize Chicago, 11/11/22
- Landmarks stops short of designation for Century & Consumers Buildings; The GSA will soon begin public hearings on the proposed demolition, Lukas Kugler, Urbanize Chicago, 9/11/22
- Downtown’s endangered Century and Consumers buildings deserve landmark status; The city is making the right move by standing up to the feds and formally arguing that the towers are historically and architecturally important, Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, 9/6/22
- Landmarks Commission Kicks the Can on Status of Threatened Century and Consumers Buildings, Patty Wetli, WTTW Chicago, 9/8/22
- Commission punts vote tied to demolition plan on State Street; Safety and security concerns leave statuses in limbo, The Read Deal, 9/12/22
- Are the endangered Century and Consumer buildings headed toward landmark status? Let’s hope so. It would be a better fate than the federal government’s plan to demolish the structures for a security plaza, Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, 7/23/22
- City landmarks panel backs review of State Street buildings that feds say are security risk; The members act after getting a petition from more than 22,000 people who voiced support for saving the early 20th century structures, setting up a potential show down with the federal government over security concerns for the nearby Dirksen Federal Courthouse, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 7/7/22
- Preservationists seek landmark status for State Street buildings; The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has scheduled a presentation on the buildings today after an advocacy group gathered more than 22,000 signatures supporting its plan to protect them from demolition, Alby Gallun, Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/7/22
- Commission On Chicago Landmarks Passes Resolution To Review Endangered Buildings At 202 And 220 S State Street In The Loop, Jack Crawford, Chicago YIMBY, 7/12/22
- Landmarks backs review of Century and Consumer Buildings; The process may lead to a landmarks standoff with the federal government, Lukas Kugler, Urbanize Chicago, 7/10/22
- The US Government Wants to Destroy These Towers, Christine Beldon, The B1M, 7/13/22 (with over 1.2 million views)
- Groups coalesce around plan to save State Street buildings; The proposal calls for turning them into a shared archive center, but the properties’ owner, the federal government, wants the early 20th century high-rises wrecked, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 5/18/22
- Preservationists push rescue plan for endangered State Street skyscrapers; The feds want to demolish a pair of early 20th-century Loop buildings. But preservation groups say they could be reused instead., Denis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 5/18/22
- Instead Of Demolishing Century And Consumer Buildings, Let Us Turn Them Into A National Archive Center, Preservationists Ask Feds; Preservation groups said the national archive center would meet the security guidelines of the neighboring federal courthouse while serving as a major hub for archive-based research, Melody Mercado, Block Club Chicago, 5/18/22
- Preservationist places faith in plan for State Street buildings; A proposal to revive the buildings adjacent to the federal complex is being developed, with hope that it will satisfy concerns about safety, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 5/9/22
- The Two Towers, A bizarre federal quest to destroy a pair of historic Chicago skyscrapers, Henry Grabar, Slate, 5/11/22
- Why have feds spent millions on vacant Chicago buildings they now want to demolish? Ben Bradley, WGN Chicago, 4/6/22
- A federal case: U.S. government shouldn’t wreck two Loop skyscrapers in the name of safety; The buildings’ demolition would create an economic and pedestrian dead zone on State Street. And it would be a shameful waste of some really good Chicago architecture, Lee Bey, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/3/22
- Flashback: Chicago remains a ‘city of skyscrapers,’ but two early examples may be nearing a date with the wrecking ball, Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune, 4/14/22
- Loop skyscrapers must be demolished to protect safety of Dirksen federal building; I respect the interest in historic preservation. But the Dirksen Courthouse and those who work in it have been targeted before, and security vulnerabilities around the courthouse must be addressed, Sen. Dick Durbin, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/26/22
- Wrecking the Century & Consumers buildings is ‘Durbin Renewal,’ not urban safety, Elizabeth Blasius, Chicago Tribune Op-Ed, 4/29/22
- Century And Consumers Buildings, Beverly’s Pike House Top List Of Most Endangered Historic Places In Illinois; The feds plans to tear down the historic Loop buildings as part of a $52 million demolition. They’ve sat vacant for 17 years. “It’s completely ridiculous,” one Landmarks Illinois preservationist said., Melody Mercado, Block Club Chicago, 4/20/22
- What’s that building? The Century and Consumers buildings; The federal government wants to demolish a pair of century-old State Street buildings — a plan preservationists are trying to stop, Dennis Rodkin, WBEZ, 3/31/22
- Preservation Chicago 2022 Chicago 7 Most Endangered: The Century and Consumers Buildings
- Landmarks Illinois 2022 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, Century & Consumers Buildings, 4/20/22