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Illinois State Fairgrounds Named On Endangered Historic Places List

The Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and Du Quoin, which are frequented by hundreds of thousands of people annually, are included on Landmarks Illinois’ latest list of Most Endangered Historic Places.

Landmarks Illinois compiles the annual list as a way to call attention to threats of development, deterioration and more.  

President and CEO of the preservationist group Bonnie McDonald said the maintenance and repairs at both fairgrounds carries a price tag of about $180 million.

“Lack of funding for capital projects has truly created a substantial maintenance backlog for both fairgrounds resulting in building closures as well as emergency repairs,” McDonald said.

A private fundraising effort is underway to help offset the cost, but it is far away from the goal.

State Representative Tim Butler of Springfield insisted the state’s fairgrounds are in need of protection.

“The Coliseum has been closed for a while, it’s a very historic building. . . so I’m trying to advocate for funding for the fair grounds here in the legislature, we have a lot of discussions about that, but I appreciate Landmarks really highlighting the need for what we’re trying to do here,” Butler said.

In the nearly quarter of a century Landmarks Illinois has put out its list, 75 percent of the properties included have been saved from demolition. This year’s list names 11 other sites across the state, including the Thompson Center in Chicago, the state office building Gov. Bruce Rauner has talked of selling.

Mary works as an intern for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. She is currently a student in the Public Affairs Reporting master's degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield and will graduate in May 2018. Prior to coming to Springfield, Mary worked as the Editorial Intern at the Chicago Sun-Times. She obtained her bachelor's degree in journalism from Illinois State University where she served as the school newspaper's news editor and editorial writer. Mary is from Naperville, Ill., and attended Wheaton Warrenville South High School.
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