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Illinois' Leaning Tower Of Niles Among 12 Of The Latest Additions To The National Register

The Leaning Tower of Niles is a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Located in Niles, Illinois.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Last week, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced that 12 sites in the state were added to the National Register of Historic Places during 2019. That’s the official federal list of properties that merit special attention and preservation. Every Illinois county has at least one property or historic district listed in the National Register.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, guest host Emily Woodbury learned more about the sites in Illinois that made it to the 2019 National Register of Historic Places, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa replica that was completed in the 1930s in Cook County; the Alton Gas and Electric Powerhouse in Madison County, constructed in 1913; and the Hunziker Winery Site in Warsaw, a little over 30 miles north of Quincy — it dates back to the mid-1800s. 

The lengthy process to get a site federally recognized begins with locals recommending a place that has either architectural or historical significance to the community. After they are evaluated, the historic places are added to the National Register by the National Park Service based on recommendations from the State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the IDNR.

Joining the discussion was Amy Hathaway, National Register and survey specialist for the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office. She said the National Register is an honorific designation for these properties after they meet the criteria. 

“It’s really having an outside validation of a property’s significance,” Hathaway said. “Because we have a tendency to become very attached to things in our community or elsewhere that have an emotional attachment to them. So this is kind of a dispassionate account of why it’s important, and I think that it helps elevate its significance.”

A spot on the National Register grants the historic properties perks such as consideration in planning for federally assisted projects, eligibility for certain tax provisions and qualification for federal grants for historic preservation. 

Listen to hear the full discussion:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.