Rockford's Laurent House, Prairie Street Brewhouse Earn Preservation Awards

Sep 14, 2015

Nine preservation efforts from across the state will be honored next month by Landmarks Illinois. It's a statewide group that advocates for the protection of historic properties. This year's list includes the Laurent House and Prairie Street Brewhouse.

Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

According to a news release, each winner will receive a Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award-which includes $500 and a trophy - at a special ceremony on October 17 in Chicago.  Local award-winners include:

Laurent House Foundation, Rockford - Advocacy + ADA 25 Award

In 1949, Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Laurent House for Kenneth Laurent, a paraplegic World War II veteran, and his wife Phyllis.  Wright strove to accommodate his client’s disability and personal dignity without sacrificing design. The resulting house is an ingenious marriage of accessibility with Wright’s Usonian principles. Equally remarkable, Frank Lloyd Wright’s thoughtful and accessible design predates the Americans with Disabilities Act by more than three decades. Kenneth and Phyllis remained in the home until 2011 when they placed the property and its Wright-designed furnishings up for auction.

Faced with the possibility of losing an architectural treasure that Frank Lloyd Wright proudly called his “little gem,” a group of concerned Rockford citizens rallied together to form the Laurent House Foundation. LHF moved to purchase, restore, and reopen the residence as a historic house museum. In a single month, the group raised more than $1 million from city, state, and county governments as well as a number of corporations, organizations, and private citizens. LHF immediately began restoring the Laurent House, installing a new roof, repairing the home’s structure, restoring the concrete floors, and refinishing its interior woodwork. The foundation also updated the home’s mechanical and security systems without modifying its unique aesthetic. The Laurent House Museum opened in 2014.

Prairie Street Brewhouse, Rockford - Rehabilitation

Constructed on the edge of the Rock River between 1857 and 1922, the Prairie Street Brewhouse originally served as the home of the Rockford Brewing Company. Loyd and Diane Koch purchased the imposing building in 2000.  After a decade of planning, the Kochs began an extensive rehabilitation project to return the building to its roots as a brewery while transforming it into one of Rockford’s premier entertainment and social venues.  The Prairie Street Brewhouse now serves as a mixed-used space that houses a brewery, banquet hall, restaurant, office space, and residential lofts.

The Prairie Street Brewhouse draws hundreds of people to downtown Rockford and the riverfront daily, helping to revitalize the city’s downtown area. As one of the first projects to utilize the Illinois State Historic Tax Credit, the Prairie Street Brewhouse also illustrates the importance of the pilot program in stimulating private investment in historic preservation.

Full list:

Bishop Hill Heritage Association, Bishop Hill – Stewardship

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Chicago – Rehabilitation

Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, Chicago – Project of the Year

Fuller Dome Home, Carbondale – Restoration

Glessner House Museum, Chicago – President’s Award for Stewardship

Downtown Jacksonville Turnaround, Jacksonville – Advocacy

Laurent House Foundation, Rockford – Advocacy + ADA 25 Award

Mike Jackson, Springfield – Joe Antunovich Award for Leadership

Prairie Street Brewhouse, Rockford – Rehabilitation