Main Street on most threatened list

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record
The Illinois Main Street Program has earned a spot on the statewide endangered list of Landmarks Illinois.

A list of the state’s ten most threatened historic sites was announced April 20 at a press conference at the state capitol in Springfield.

Among the sites was listed was the Illinois Main Street Program and a former home of John Deere in Moline.

Now in its 16th year, the statewide endangered list calls attention to historic resources in dire need of assistance in the form of responsible stewardship, critical funding, or creative reuse plans. This year, a number of the sites listed have fallen victim to the poor economic climate, which has resulted in property foreclosures and restrictions in available financing.

“This year’s list includes a range of building types across the state which are facing similar struggles,” said Jim Peters, president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois. “By publicizing these sites, we hope to bolster local advocacy efforts and build momentum for each property’s eventual preservation.”

The properties on this year’s list are: an 1890s mansion near a college campus, key buildings on a closed 2,000-acre Air Force Base, a statewide program that has benefitted downtowns for more than 15 years, an 1850s farmstead along historic Route 66, a 1930s Art Deco theater, late-19th century workers housing, a Bertrand Goldberg-designed hospital, a former home of John Deere, an early-20th century church complex, and one of America’s greatest movie palaces.

Since the inception of Landmarks Illinois’ “Ten Most” list in 1995, 42 sites have been saved, 34 have been demolished or substantially altered, and 90 remain threatened to some degree. Today’s announcement also kicks off the start of National Preservation Month in May.

Landmarks Illinois is celebrating its 39th year as a statewide advocacy and education organization. The not-for-profit works with citizens and communities throughout Illinois to preserve, protect and promote historic places through advocacy and education. In addition to the Ten Most Endangered list, the organization also sponsors the Chicagoland Watch List and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards.

Landmarks Illinois 2010 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places include the following

Illinois Main Street Program

Statewide

This state-run program is the only one of its kind in Illinois geared towards preservationbased downtown economic development. It was established in 1993 to assist local communities with historic Main Street improvement efforts including those in Aledo. Over its lifetime, the nearly 70 participating communities, from Carbondale to Rockford and Danville to Quincy, have benefitted from architectural services and training.

The program has generated more than $400 million in downtown reinvestment and created over 4,800 jobs. Recent state budget cuts have eliminated all technical assistance services and the annual statewide conference, while greatly reducing the number of staff. The National Main Street Center in Washington, D.C., which provides unified marketing and development strategies to downtown Main Street programs, has placed the Illinois program on suspension until it can meet national standards.

Red Cliff

1217 11th Ave., Moline (Rock Island County)

This 1874 frame Italianate was designed and built by J.B. Salisbury, a prominent local architect, on a bluff overlooking downtown Moline. The original owner was forced to move a year later due to financial problems. At that time, retired farm equipment manufacturer John Deere purchased the home to be closer to his son and to have a commanding view of his riverfront factory. Deere expanded and remodeled the house in the Second Empire style, and it remained in the family for 60 years. From the late 1930s through the 1960s, the building was divided into 16 apartments. Beginning in 1996, new owners attempted a full restoration but abandoned the project and the property is now in foreclosure.

Landmarks Illinois is the state’s leading voice for historic preservation. Since its founding in 1971, the 2,500-member statewide organization has saved countless architectural and historic treasures throughout Illinois. Landmarks Illinois’ mission today focuses on saving buildings, facilitating preservation, and educating the public. For more information, visit www.Landmarks.org.