UPDATE Sept 2018: The Unit 4 School Board went ahead with their goal for complete demolition of this priceless architectural legacy of Burnham and Root, arguably one of the most famous architects of the country.
This irreplaceable piece of history designed by two of the most famous American architects graced this historic neighborhood for well over 125 years and was demolished in one day. A priceless building. How much did it cost Champaign taxpayers to demolish it and haul it away? How much do we now lose in property taxes in perpetuity? How do you tell the next generation that we demolished one of the few remaining Burnham and Root structures for a parking lot? A senseless, shortsighted loss for Champaign and all of the rest of us.
May 2018: U of I School of Architecture alum Mr Chris Enck had agreed with the School Board terms to purchase and move the historic and architecturally important 1884 Burnham house that was fated to be demolished and replaced by a parking lot. According to the terms, the move must occur by July 2018.
Thank you to all who appreciate and respect the enormous architectural legacy we have in our midst, Thank you to all who are working so hard and who are contributing any amount to save this historical jewel!
The Champaign School Board purchased the extraordinarily historic and architecturally important 1884 Burnham house in order to destroy it for a parking lot. The1884 Burnham House was designed by world famous architect Daniel Burnham. Burnham designed multiple iconic buildings all over the country and beyond including NYC's Flatiron Building, DC's Union Station, and the Chicago World's Fair. Champaign's Burnham house is one of only 10 existing residential properties designed by Daniel Burnham. The purchase and demolition will cost taxpayers millions - in exchange for a few additional parking spaces, the enormous loss of history, and the gutting of a very historic neighborhood.
The school board is forging ahead to demolish the Burnham and several other properties before Central High School expansion plans are even firm. Demolishing a significant historical property is unethical. Rushing to do so, particularly when plans are not even set and may ultimately change, is reckless. Once it is gone, it is forever.
Please sign this petition to save this very historic Daniel Burnham House and please share it widely. Time is of the essence!
PLEASE SIGN, SHARE, AND HELP. CONTACT MEDIA AND PUBLICIZE THIS ANYWHERE. THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR DESTROYING THIS RARE AND HISTORIC GEM.
Please follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/savetheburnham and help us to spread this urgent message: #savetheburnham
1) We ask for a moratorium on the School Board's imminent plans to demolish the very historic Burnham House. Once it is gone, it is forever.
2) We ask that the Board extend the period of public review of the expansion plans and allow for more accessible review, as many aspects of this plan are still not clear to the community and the consequences of these plans are extensive. Public funds being allocated to destroy public property, including the Burnham and 10 period buildings in the immediate downtown neighborhood, should be subject to explicit and sufficient public review. Two hours of public review of two big expansion projects on the same night is not adequate with so much at stake. Two weeks to vote on this when so much remains unclear and unanswered is insufficient. Please make an online interactive portal accessible so that any questions regarding the plans can be answered, clarified, and viewable by all.
3) We ask that the city apply its planning process to all aspects of the School Board construction program.
4) We ask that the Board collaborate in good faith with the community to find a solution to permit Central HS expansion and the Burnham to coexist and thrive.
We hope that the School Board will recognize the benefits of historic preservation and that its potential benefits to students and the community are far greater than providing some additional parking. With some creative thinking, our community and country’s historic legacy and a state of the art high school can go hand in hand.
Please sign the petition to save the historic Burnham house from demolition. Please contact the Champaign School Board Chris Kloeppel, Amy Armstrong, Kathy Shannon, Kathy Richards, Gianina Baker, Heather Vasquez at email@example.com, Mayor Deb Feinen (Deb.Feinen@champaignil.gov) and city manager Dorothy David (firstname.lastname@example.org) and urge them to preserve the Burnham. Or email directly: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org, Deb.Feinen@champaignil.gov, email@example.com.
Very many are not aware of the very historic and immense architectural legacy that we are very fortunate to have in our community. There are very viable, feasible alternatives that promote Central HS expansion and do not involve demolition of the very Historic Burnham. We ask that the historic Burnham House be preserved for the education and enjoyment of our children, our community, and beyond. The School Board and city leaders could come out as heroes in this debacle.
ABOUT THE BURNHAM HOUSE (1884)
The substantial Queen Anne style Burnham House at 603 West Church Street, Champaign IL was designed in 1883 by Burnham & Root, one of the most famous architectural firms in the country. Architect Daniel Burnham designed many of Chicago's most famous buildings and city plans, including the Rookery, The World's Fair, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum. He also designed one of New York City's most famous and iconic Landmarks, the beloved Flatiron Building. Burnham designed very few residential buildings. Only 10 Burnham designed homes remain in the world and Champaign is extremely fortunate to have one: The Burnham House. This is the house that the School Board wants to demolish for a parking lot.
Burnham and Root designed the Burnham House for philanthropic Champaign residents Albert C. and Julia Burnham. The magnificent house was completed in 1884 and was noteworthy for both its historic value and its notable architectural excellence.
Albert C. and Julia F. Burnham were important figures in Champaign’s history, and major benefactors for the citizens of Champaign, donating major funding for two extraordinarily important local institutions, Champaign’s first hospital, the Julia F. Burnham Hospital (now demolished), and its first permanent public library, the Burnham Athenaeum. These generous gifts demonstrated the Burnhams’ concern for the welfare and enhancement of their community.
A. C. Burnham financed the development of agricultural properties in central Illinois following the Civil War. He founded the oldest banking firm in Champaign in 1861 (the Trevett-Mattis Bank, eventually the Bank of Illinois, now merged into Busey Bank).
Julia Burnham was also a person of accomplishment. She saw the need and oversaw preparations for a local public hospital, would become the Burnham Hospital. She was the first woman member on the first auxiliary team for Champaign County, responsible for visiting almshouses, jails, and insane asylums and reporting on their conditions to the Board. Ironically, she was also one of the first women in Illinois to serve on the Champaign School Board.
Designed in 1883 by Burnham and Root: one of the most famous architectural firms in the country
This magnificent house was purchased by the Champaign School Board in 2017 in order to demolish it. No one opposes that Central High School needs to be renovated and vastly improved. However there is considerable misinformation about the Burnham House and its relationship to Central H.S. expansion. This website is an attempt to present the public with more information about the Burnham House, its vast historical and cultural relevance, and hopefully engage people to speak out against its demolition before it is too late. The Burnham House lies outside the intended footprint of renovated and expanded Central High School and does NOT hinder school expansion. In fact, it could be an ASSET for our children's education.
Alternative solutions exist than the reckless destruction of one of the most historic and notable houses in Champaign Urbana. This house is in very good condition and is a work of art to be treasured and used, not destroyed. Please insist that the school board collaborate with its many concerned and dismayed citizens and halt this reckless path of destruction. Options include moving the additional parking to another location or omitting it altogether. Or putting all Central athletic fields in one sports complex such as the many acres already owned by the school board. Repurposing the Burnham for classrooms, training in restoration, offices, etc. are far better options than destroying this historic jewel of our community and country.
We are a concerned group of residents, architects, preservationists, scholars, former residents, urban architects, parents, children, and others working to save the very historic Burnham House at 603 W. Church St, Champaign.
Please sign the petition Urgent: Save the Burnham House
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit our Facebook page Save Burnham Mansion Champaign for news and updates. Follow on twitter @savetheburnham