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Freeport, Elgin landmarks make state's 'endangered' list

Two northern Illinois structures have made the Landmarks Illinois 2012 list of Ten Most Endangered Places. They are the Freeport City Hall in Freeport and the Fox River Country Day School in Elgin.

The list, now in its 18th year, calls attention to threatened historic resources in need of assistance in the form of responsible stewardship and/or creative reuse plans. The economic downturn, public deficits and a lack of available financing continue to challenge historic sites throughout Illinois.

Since the inception of Landmarks Illinois’ Ten Most list in 1995, more than a third of the listed properties have been saved, less than a quarter have been demolished, and the rest remain threatened or are being rehabilitated.

The distinctive red sandstone Freeport City Hall, built in 1899, sits on a prominent corner at 230 W. Stephenson in Freeport’s downtown. Over the years it has suffered from lack of maintenance, heavy use and multiple alterations. In addition, settling in one corner led to serious concerns about the building’s structural stability. This Romanesque Revival gem is still a local icon. The city has moved its offices to a nearby rental facility. A study group recently approved by City Council has until October to research viable solutions for future use of the building.

In a picturesque setting at 1600 Dundee Ave., Elgin, near the Fox River, this beautiful wooded campusof Fox River Country Day School contains several significant buildings by noted Prairie School architect John S. Van Bergen. The low-slung buildings, with their stucco, stone and tile details, fit organically into the landscape. Built in 1923 as the Chicago Junior School, the school closed in 2011 due to declining enrollment. The property is in foreclosure and for sale. While its 53 acres present a prime development opportunity, the beauty and integrity of the school buildings are a rare example of the country school campus.

The other entries on t he list, include a home for Civil War widows, a unique hospital, an emigrant's limestone house, a Chicago lakeshore home and more.