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 IGNN: History Press Release


May 3, 2007

Going postal over the Ike

SPRINGFIELD – The 1934 Chicago Post Office Building that straddles the Eisenhower Expressway and Highland Park’s Obee House are featured in the latest issue of Historic Illinois, a publication of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA).
            The largest Post Office building in the world was built in Chicago in 1934 after two of the city’s earlier Post Offices had outgrown structures before they were even completed.  The Chicago Post Office, completed in the midst of the Great Depression, is an architectural behemoth and an engineering marvel.  Its squat construction features two 15-story end piers and middle “bridge” section with eight lanes of traffic passing directly underneath.  The 2.5 million square foot Post Office building was designed by the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White, who had also designed another Chicago giant, the 3.5 million square foot Merchandise Mart in 1930.  To accommodate the thousands of employees who worked in the structure, the Post Office featured a cafeteria and restaurant that served up to 1,600 people at a time, an in-house branch of the Chicago Public Library, and a recreation room.  At its peak, the Post Office handled 11 million pieces of mail per day.  A smaller, more efficient replacement facility opened in 1996 and the historic giant now stands empty, awaiting decisions about its future.  The article was written by IHPA Publications Editor Cynthia Fuener.
            Another article profiles Highland Park’s Obee House, which was demolished in the late 1990s to make way for condominiums.  William G. Obee built his family residence in 1874 and the vernacular two-story wood-frame house was one of the first homes constructed in Highland Park.  Its double-hung windows, pinewood floor, oak-banister staircase, ornate baseboards and bulls-eye ornamentation remained marvelously intact for more than a century, and it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.  When demolition became imminent, the house was carefully documented under provisions of the Illinois Historic American Buildings/Historic American Engineering Record.  Now, even though the house no longer exists, researchers can still learn about the structure through this documentation which is kept at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.  The article was written by Andrew Heckenkamp of IHPA’s Preservation Services Division.               
Historic Illinois is a bimonthly IHPA publication that features historically significant sites in Illinois.  Subscriptions are $10 per year, which includes six issues of Historic Illinois and one full-color Historic Illinois Calendar.  For more information, call (217) 524-6045, visit www.Illinois-History.gov, or write:
                        Historic Illinois
                        Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
                        1 Old State Capitol Plaza
                        Springfield, IL  62701-1507
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

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