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Burnham-Designed Former CPS HQ Heads for Landmark Status

By Ted Cox | October 1, 2015 5:40pm
 The former home of Chicago Public Schools appears headed for landmark status.
The former home of Chicago Public Schools appears headed for landmark status.
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THE LOOP — A Daniel Burnham building that most recently served as Chicago Public Schools' headquarters moved toward landmark status Thursday.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted unanimously to move the proposal forward. The 18-story 1907 construction at 125 S. Clark St. is the oldest surviving high-rise bank building in the Loop designed by Burnham & Co.

Originally constructed for the Commercial National Bank, it was sold to Commonwealth Edison in 1912 and was known for decades as the Edison Building. It passed on to the Chicago Board of Education in 1998 and served as CPS headquarters until last year when it was sold for $28 million.

Burnham, of course, is primarily known as the guiding force behind the 1893 Columbian Exposition and the 1909 city plan, as well as his adage: "Make no little plans." The building is in the Classical Revival style he was known for.

Lisa DiChiera of Landmarks Illinois and Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago both advocated for the landmark status, with Miller calling it an "incredible building" and "a first-class example of Burnham's work." Both also said the structure's terracotta facade could use immediate rehabilitation.

Blue Star Properties, which is developing the now-vacant building, has already moved for a tax break granted landmarked buildings and plans to put restaurants and stores on the lower levels and offices above.

The Department of Planning and Development now executes an additional plan on the proposal, followed by public hearings and a final decision by the commission.

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