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Illinois State Police Office: Pontiac, Illinois Part 2 January 31, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Route 66.

Just south of Pontiac on Old U.S. Route 66 is an Illinois State Police Office, now abandoned, that was built during World War II and served as the Illinois State Police District 6 headquarters until it was vacated in 2004. The Art Moderne (closely related to Art Deco) building gives off a sleek, streamlined look through its use of glass bricks, curved corners and smooth surfaces.

1941 Illinois State Police Office – Pontiac

The structure is a relatively recent addition to the National Register of Historic Places, added on March 7, 2007. The rural setting is particularly appealing. The building stands on the abandoned southbound lanes of Old Route 66, a stretch of the Mother Road that is itself recognized by the National Register, while the northbound lane is still in use as a two-lane highway going both directions. The roadbed was discussed in this post.

Sleek Art Moderne elements add a futuristic feel to the buidling

The glass bricks around the entrance really give the building that futuristic feel, imagine the impact in 1941. I have loved glass bricks as an architectural element ever since I was a small child, we had a few in our basement windows.

Smooth surfaces are another of the Art Moderne influences

The really interesting thing about this building is what happened to it after the state police left for better, newer digs. For awhile, its future was up in the air; the state struggled to find an owner who could afford to maintain the building, which had its share of problems when the police left. Finally, after trying to sell it, the state passed a law which passed ownership of the building to Livingston County; it was considered a victory for historic preservationists and Route 66 enthusiasts alike.

I guess it’s fun to vandalize the police station.

Despite the change in ownership, the building was still vacant when I visited last fall. It is going to take some work to get it up to par, besides the problems with plumbing and other issues the building already had, persistent vandalism will have to be cleaned up and prevented.

Online Resources
*Wikipedia: Illinois State Police Office (Pontiac) (by me)
*Illinois State Police Office: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
*Illinois State Police Office: Public Act 095-0388; transferred ownership of the building to Livingston County
*Art Moderne architecture (examples and info): 1, 2
*Illinois State Police District 6: Official website

Back to Sycamore tomorrow, then over to Lee County and Dixon, Illinois as we approach the day Ronald Reagan was born, and venture to learn a little more about our 40th President. (Note: I am not a Republican or a Reagan fan, but I am a history fan – those of you who know me, know this. We will return to Route 66 soon enough. Stay tuned.


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