Modern sites top "Endangered" lists


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US staff


Endangered, News, Advocacy, Thompson Center
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Although long overlooked, in recent years threats to sites of Modern heritage have been getting more attention. Just in the past month, they topped two "most endangered" historic sites lists in Oklahoma and Chicago.

Preservation Chicago's 7 Most Endagered list led with the spaceship-like Thompson Center, which has made the list before. The site is now all but certain to be sold by the State of Illinois. This landmark of postmodernism faces an uncertain future regardless of ownership, but a sale might clear the way for demolition and replacement. Docomomo US and the local Docomomo US/Chicago chapter have covered the issue previously and advocated for its preservation. Last year, the documentary Starship Chicago was the recipient of the Modernism in America Advocacy Award of Exellence.

Also appearing on Preservation Chicago's list is the Rotunda Building at O’Hare International Airport, which made the list for the first time. According to the group, "though disfigured over the years, it remains a remarkable structure at an airport with a large inventory of interesting architecture." Additionally, it was designed by an important woman architect, Gertrude Lempp Kerbis. The airport is considering designs for a new terminal, and the hope is that restoring the Rotunda to its original grandeur is incorporated into whichever plan is eventually chosen.

If you've been following along with our social media, you've probably seen posts about two threatened modern buildings in Oklahoma City, the Church of Tomorrow and the Central National Motor Bank. Both of those were identified as part of a theme listing of "Mid-Century Modern Architecture, statewide" for Preservation Oklahoma's 2019 Most Endangered Places list. Also singled out under that heading were three other sites, the VFW #2270 in Enid, the J. Paul Getty Bunker in Tulsa, and Fire Station #10 in Oklahoma City. The Brookshire roadside motel in Tulsa located along the historic Route 66 was included as a stand-alone listing.

Okie ModSquad has been leading efforts to save the Church of Tomorrow and the Central National Motor Bank.

You can support their efforts by:

  1. Signing the petitions HERE and HERE
  2. Following the Save the Egg Facebook group
  3. Visit the Okie ModSquad webpages for each site HERE and HERE to learn more