Campus May Be Razed for Housing

 

Loyola
1913 campus in Wilmette, Ill.

Credit: Wilmette Historic Preservation Commission

Jan. 22, 2002

Dear Preservation 911,

Loyola University of Chicago has signed a contract with a developer to sell the Mallinckrodt Campus in Wilmette, Ill., a northern suburb of Chicago on the Lake Michigan shore. The campus was designed by Hermann Gaul and built in 1913-16 for the Sisters of Christian Charity, originally of Germany, as their motherhouse and chapel. It has housed many educational institutions over the years, including Mallinckrodt College, and most recently Loyola's College of Education.

The campus includes a large building and two small outbuildings (180,000 square feet total). It sits on 17 acres of beautiful land with mature trees. In 1991, the campus was identified in our community's historical and architectural survey as a candidate for the National Register of Historic Places.

Loyola
Loyola University

Credit: Wilmette Historic Preservation Commission

The chosen developer, Edward James/Valenti Builders, plans to raze the building and build 60 single-family homes. The citizens of Wilmette have rallied our local government to intervene. The Citizens Action League for Mallinckrodt has gathered more than 5,300 signatures on petitions asking our park board to purchase the property. The park board voted on January 14 to place a referendum on the March 19 ballot, asking for voter approval to issue up to $25 million in bonds to cover the purchase. The park board has no use for the building, so the village board has pledged to buy it and sell it to a developer if it is feasible to reuse it. Reuse would be an ideal situation, as it would save the building and allow the park board to issue fewer bonds, which would save taxpayer money and help pass the referendum.

Here is the dilemma: There has been no independent feasibility study done. If voters knew before March 19 that it was feasible to save the building, it would help to pass the referendum. Do any of Preservation Online's readers know of a good architectural firm in the Chicago area who could conduct an independent feasibility study? Secondly, the village may not be able to commit the funds to pay for the study. Does anyone know of sources for funding? (Perhaps a private generous donor, as the time factor is critical.) Finally, are there any developers out there that might be interested in purchasing this property?

Sincerely,

Vicki Birenberg
Wilmette Historic Preservation Commission

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