Landmarks Illinois Sounds the Alarm for the Hotel Guyon

30 Apr

Chicago's Hotel Guyon, completed in 1928 and designed by architect Jens J. Jensen. Photo by author

One of Chicago’s architectural icons has received some much deserved (and very much needed) attention.   The Chicago-based preservation advocacy organization Landmarks Illinois has announced the Hotel Guyon at 4000 W. Washington as one of Illinois’ Ten Most Endangered Historic Places.

Landmarks Illinois has been keeping an eye on Illinois’ historic resources since 1971. The organization first cut its teeth fighting to save Louis Sullivan’s legendary Chicago Stock Exchange. The Stock Exchange came down but since then Landmarks Illinois has been one of the Midwest’s strongest voices for preservation. In fact, Landmarks Illinois is at the forefront of attempts to recognize the importance of our important architecture from the recent past; architect Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospitala (Chicago, completed 1975) joins the Hotel Guyon on this year’s Most Endangered list.

I’ve talked in past posts about the grandeur of the Hotel Guyon (completed 1928) and the great but all too unrecognized talent of its architect Jens J. Jensen (1891-1969). The Guyon’s neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side has seen its share of ups and downs – mostly down over the past few decades. A rehabilitation of the beautiful Hotel Guyon would be a great kickstart to the renewal of once economically vibrant West Garfield Park community. Leaving the hotel abandoned and window-less as it is today stands if anything as a roadblock to any meaningful rejuvenation of the neighborhood.  The City of Chicago should show its support for its ailing neighborhoods and for their historic resources and make a Guyon rehab deal sweeter for potential developers.

The Guyon and Prentice Women’s Hospital shares the spotlight on this year’s Landmarks Illinois Ten Most Endangered List with a group of equally worthy sites, among them five Illinois public schools that need creative new uses if they’re going to hang on and stay with us. It’s sad to see so many significant historic sites languishing the way they are – thanks to Landmarks Illinois for keeping an eye on them.

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