Four suburban sites listed among most endangered historic locations in Illinois

Four suburban sites are among nine historic places in Illinois considered most at risk in a preservation group's latest list of endangered locations.

Landmarks Illinois has been releasing its Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list since 1995, calling attention to culturally and architecturally significant sites that they say are at risk of disinvestment and demolition.

"The list is such a great tool because it creates this spotlight and moment of attention on these sites," said Kendra Parzen, an advocacy manager with Landmarks Illinois. "We stay deeply involved in these places and are pleased to see many of them find new life, new use and a future that does not involve demolition."

This year's list includes the Alexander Brothers Blacksmith Shop in Geneva, Oak Cottage in Naperville, the Baxter International headquarters in Deerfield and Richmond's historic wooden bridge. The entire list is available at

"We will continue to work with local residents and elected officials, as well as building and preservation professionals, to develop solutions for the reuse of these threatened places," said Bonnie McDonald, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois.

Here's a closer look at the four suburban locations:


The Baxter International headquarters in Deerfield was built in 1972 after being designed by famed structural engineer Fazlur Khan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the same engineer responsible for the Sears Tower and the John Hancock building.

"It's an early example of the kind of radical engineering you see from that firm," said architectural historian Elizabeth Blasius of Preservation Futures. "It also links Deerfield to Chicago in this sort of really interesting design way."

Bridge Industrial purchased the 101-acre property earlier this year and plans to demolish the existing buildings and replace them with warehouse logistics facilities.

Blasius said the main building on the campus is an early example of an open-concept floor plan applied to a commercial building.

"It was designed for versatility and different uses so it could certainly be adaptively reused," she said.

  The Alexander Brothers Blacksmith Shop sits on the former Mill Race Inn property in Geneva. Brian Hill/, 2020


The Alexander Brothers Blacksmith Shop is technically on the list for the second time.

It sits on the former Mill Race Inn property, which was previously featured in 2018. The 177-year-old limestone structure is one of the oldest surviving commercial buildings in Geneva.

Parzen said the building was locally landmarked after making the list. But there is now an application to de-designate and demolish it.

"We see a new threat, although with many of the same characteristics as the original one," she said. "It's very illustrative of the fact that you can save a historic site once and that in no way means that it was saved forever."

Oak Cottage in Naperville was built in 1841 as a family home for early settler William Briggs Greene. Daily Herald file photo, 2016


Oak Cottage in Naperville was built in 1841 as a family home for early settler William Briggs Greene. An L-shaped barn, once the largest in DuPage County, also still stands on the property.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, which owns the property, is evaluating demolishing the cottage for open space if a third party does not propose a viable reuse for it.

"They provide important context for Greene Valley's origins as an early Naperville homestead, and they really go together," Parzen said of the cottage and barn. "If you remove Oak Cottage, not only do you remove an important piece of cultural heritage from the landscape, but you diminish Greene Barn's ability to tell the story by itself."

Richmond's historic wooden bridge was built sometime around 1900. Courtesy of Alex Wiezbicki/ (IG) ajw_outdoor_photography


Richmond's historic wooden bridge was built with its now-lost twin sometime around 1900 after the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad railway cut through the small town in the 1850s. The city-owned landmark faces possible demolition because of a lack of maintenance and no plan for its preservation.

Allison Kessel Clark of the W.A. McConnell Foundation, which has been working to save the bridge, said being on the list is significant.

"It's an important first step in protecting Richmond's rich heritage from succumbing to benign neglect, which happens when communities fail to maintain or protect their historic resources," she said.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.