8551 DSC 0753CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign Downtown Commercial District is one of 12 Illinois sites added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2020, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Wednesday.

“This designation is a tremendous recognition of the historic structures that continue to serve as part of the Downtown Commercial District in Champaign,” Bennett said. “I’m thrilled to see our community being recognized with this distinct honor for its history and architecture.”

The city’s history begins with the arrival of the Illinois Central Railroad in 1854. Originally there were agriculture dealers and grain elevators, greenhouses, and lumberyards – an assortment of businesses catering to the developing agriculture and construction of the area. As the population rapidly increased, entertainment venues, boarding options and retail spaces emerged.

Active building occurred in the area for over a century, with brick buildings eventually replacing the early wood-frame structures. In addition to this being the earliest business district in Illinois, it has also continually served as the home of Champaign’s city government. Together these buildings relay the story of the changing architectural styles for commercial and public buildings from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of properties that merit special attention and preservation. Every county in Illinois has at least one property or historic district listed in the National Register, and together they represent a cross section of the state’s history from its early settlement to the mid-20th century.

For more information on the National Register of Historic Places in Illinois, click here.

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