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St. Ignatius acquires architecturally significant bank building

The former Lakeside Bank branch that was originally an architecturally innovative library for the blind and disabled has been bought by its across-the-street neighbor, St. Ignatius College Prep, the school announced Friday.

“Saint Ignatius has acquired and taken possession of the former Lakeside Bank building on the southeast corner of Roosevelt and Blue Island,” the college preparatory school, 1076 W. Roosevelt Rd., said in a written statement to faculty, parents and students.

“This two-acre parcel will allow us to continue to enhance our athletic programs at Rice Park,” a St. Ignatius athletic space just east of the bank. “In the short term, the building will provide washrooms, storage space and expansion for our strength and conditioning programs.”

St. Ignatius officials were unable to be reached for comment.

As the Sun-Times first reported Thursday, Lakeside Bank closed the branch, 1055 W. Roosevelt Rd., on July 1 and announced the building was up for sale.

The 32,000 square foot, blue-and-white building was built in 1978 as the Illinois Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, designed by Chicago architectural icon Stanley Tigerman.

Tigerman died in 2019 at age 88.

The rounded, postmodern facility —striking when the library’s steel-clad exterior was painted in original bright primary colors — received global acclaim as a successful early building designed specifically for the blind and disabled.

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Architect Stanley Tigerman.

Both inside and out, Tigerman used color, form and design to create a welcoming and functional space for the library’s clientele.

But the state library closed in 1999 and its books, tapes and other materials were relocated. The building sat vacant and rusting — with its vibrant exterior colors fading — while the city helped find it a new suitor.

Lakeside Bank bought the building and operated a branch and operations center from 2005 until this month.

“As Lakeside has grown tremendously since 2005, we needed additional space for our Operations personnel,” the bank said in a statement earlier this month. “We’ve now relocated them and made the decision to sell the Roosevelt branch.”

The conversion to a bank removed the building’s original color scheme and much of Tigerman’s innovative interior design.

But the sale to St. Ignatius retains a still-important building, at least for now.

Lee Bey is the Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic and a member of the Editorial Board.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com



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