Swift End Could be Near for Historic Skokie Depot


By Lucio Guerrero

Date of Publication: July 19, 2000
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


The original Skokie Swift station will be demolished unless someone agrees to move the 75-year-old building, championed by preservationists as an architectural gem and part of Skokie's fabric.

Unless a savior steps forward, Skokie's Village Board voted Monday night to tear down the old station at 5100 Dempster.

The building is for sale for $1, but whoever buys it would be required to move it and renovate it according to historic preservation guidelines.

If no one comes forward, the village and state will photograph the building for a historical record, then demolish it.

The CTA built a new station, just south of the old one, that it's been using since 1994. Once the old structure is gone, the new one will be expanded and more parking will be added.

Since 1994, the old station has housed retail shops, now closed, and a Greyhound bus stop.

The old brick depot, which sits at the north end of the CTA's Skokie Swift line, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1925 by the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee Railway, an electric rail line that ran up the Skokie Valley to Milwaukee.

The Skokie Swift has used the line, and the station, since 1964.

The station is one of the few examples of Prairie School architecture in a non-residential public building. Designed by Arthur U. Gerber in his trademark "bungaloid" style, it has a broad roof that hangs 12 feet beyond the station and cast-stone columns. It's the only one of eight stations designed by Gerber that's still standing.

Skokie officials have wanted to tear down the building for years, but preservationists have pressured and stalled the efforts because of the building's architectural significance.

The building has been altered since it opened, but preservationists say it's important even beyond its architectural significance.

"It's significant because Skokie grew around the center," said Dave Blanchette, a spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which must also sign off on the agreement.