Have the people who want to save this Hospital had a really good tour of the whole facility? Are they painting over the Tony Peraica for President on Halsted and Archer?
Cook County to decide fate of old hospital By Ravi Baichwal
July 27, 2007 - A plan to breathe new life into the old Stroger Hospital in Chicago is being considered. Cook County Board President Todd Stroger wants to convert the space into new medical offices.
Because the building has earned a space on the National Register of Historic Places, the debate has raged since 2002 about what do with a place that has been called Chicago's 'Statue of Liberty.' Now, it's bit closer to welcoming caregivers in new office space.
In its heyday, Stroger Hospital was the biggest medical institution in the world. A place, beginning in 1913, where America's immigrants came for free health care. It was the first prominent facility to offer training to African-American doctors during the Jim Crow period.
"This was the first hospital to have a blood bank and the first hospital to have a trauma center," said Jonathan Fine of Preservation Chicago, a grass-roots organization that has fought to save building from the wrecker's ball since Cook County built its new hospital next door.
Now, the county would save that history by relocating medical offices housed in the 1930's-era nurses dormitory off the hospital. The dorm, and some old wards at the back of the building would be demolished. Space could also be rented to nearby Rush University Medical Center and the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago.
ABC7 Chicago asked Cook County officials what people would see when they look at the building in the future:
"They are going to see a building that is contributing to the community, a building that is fully functional, a building with all its architectural components displayed, and it is going to be a great savings to the citizens of Cook County," said the county's administrator, Bruce Washington.
Analysts say renovated space would end some of the grumbling of county hospital medical staff, many of whom recently threatened to quit due to difficult working conditions. The plan would cost $140 million, and there's no agreement about who would pay. The hospital has lead paint and asbestos hazards that would have to be dealt with no matter what eventually happens to the architecture. But for preservationists, the choice is clear.
"It is a great building, it is a solid building. In some places, the walls are two feet thick. You are not going to be able to build a building of this quality, and it can be adaptively reused to serve the next 50 to 100 years," Fine said.
No developers that have expressed an interest in the old hospital would speak on camera ABC7 Chicago. But, the debate will rage on, beginning at next week's county board meeting. There, Cook County commissioners have "what to do with the old hospital" on their agenda. Fate of Cook County Hospital continues