A downtown Peoria landmark has made this year's list of the most endangered historic places in the state. Bonnie McDonald of Landmarks Illinois says the owner of the Madison Theater claims the building is not worth renovating and wants to tear it down. McDonald doubts that premise.
"If you factor in the cost of demolition, typically it is cost equivalent between preservation and new construction."
McDonald says most new construction is also of lesser quality than the materials and architectural embellishments used nearly a century ago. She says people have strong connections with the 1922 structure in Peoria and it anchors a key block in the downtown that could contribute to the economy.
"We have performance venues that have been relocated to theaters and then new restaurants have opened because of that. Historic preservation is a catalyst for other projects around the community. In addition they create jobs."
McDonald urges a newly created commission on the Madison Theater to look hard for a way to save it just as the Pere Marquette Hotel is being saved across the street. McDonald also says the Madison is important to preserve for its design.
"This theater is quite monumental in nature. It has terra cotta details that are significant amongst the other historic theaters around the state. We believe this beautiful and grand movie palace is important for Peoria."
McDonald says there is grant money available for restoration. She says her organization has succeeded in saving about half the structures on the list over its 17 year life and another 30% are still up in the air. On this year's list are several of Chicago's moveable bridges that are scheduled to be replaced with wider fixed bridges. Also listed as endangered are community mausoleums that are deteriorating in Beecher, Roodhouse and other towns. Rounding out the list are Gage House, a pre-Civil War home in Winnetka; a former orphanage in Springfield; Fox Lake's Mineola Hotel; the Miner's Institute in Collinsville; the Muddy Waters home in Chicago; Quincy's Newcomb Hotel and West Chicago's Wiant House. Hear more from Bonnie McDonald about the Madison theater's value to Peoria.
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