Routes 120 and 43 (Belvidere & Waukegan Rd.)
Lake County’s once-social and retail epicenter, built at the height of the postwar suburban boom. Three-anchor (with room for a fourth), two-level, 1.1m square-foot enclosed regional shopping center with tons of outparcels. The mall thrived through the ’70s and ’80s, until totally collapsing under competition from Gurnee Mills in the 1990s. Two anchors left in December 1997, the last stores were out in 2001, and by 2004 the last anchor (Carson Pirie Scott) had turned out the lights.
Status: DEMOLISHED. Redeveloped into Fountain Square of Waukegan.
Flickr set(s): Lakehurst Shopping Center
Loot: Seagull insignia from the big sign near Belvidere & Greenleaf
Notes: Perimeter-only… hey, I was 12 at the time.
Karcher Hotel; Collins-Karcher Hotel; Karcher Hotel for Active Senior Citizens
405 Washington Street
Brick and Spanish Revival high-rise luxury hotel built at the height of the city’s ‘Big Building Boom’. Largely populated by Chicago travelers and families of sailors; the Karcher operated as a transient hotel for forty years before changing hands in the ’60s, and again in the early-’80s. Destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve 1984, which killed eight on the upper floors, and abandoned for the next 27 years.
Status: ACTIVE; restored as the Karcher Artspace Lofts in 2012.
Article: The Karcher Hotel
F. Sauter Building
33-37 S. Genesee Street
1894-2010 (apartments condemned in 1986)
Victorian apartment and retail block built with drop-dead gorgeous exterior craftsmanship. 37 S. Genesee was home to Stern’s Store for Men for nearly a century. One of the most beloved buildings in downtown Waukegan, but was neglected for decades. The apartments were condemned, first; then Stern’s was finally claimed by the Great Recession.
Status: DEMOLISHED 2014
Article: F. Sauter Building
Notes: Explored in two phases, two years apart. The apartments were never accessible from the ground, so I climbed into them with a makeshift ladder the weekend before it was torn down.
Waukegan National Bank; Waukegan Building; VIP Building
4 S. Genesee Street
Waukegan’s first skyscraper; a neoclassical eight-story bank tower with a basement vault and some ground-floor retail space. Functioned as a bank through about 1937, but most-remembered for a Walgreen’s occupying the former bank hall in the mid-20th century. The upper floors housed various professional offices. Acquired by a slumlord in the 1970s and has sat in darkness (with occasionally-suspicious activity taking place off-and-on) for over 30 years, only being maintained as-needed.
Status: Vacant; severely neglected and vandalized, but not truly abandoned.
Video: Weird Waukegan
Loot: Crazy Dwayne thinks I tried to steal the safe…
Notes: DO NOT ATTEMPT. Owner is batshit!
Waukegan Public Library; Carnegie Library
1 N. Sheridan Rd.
1903-1965, sporadically used in the years that immediately followed.
Unique Carnegie Library built on a bluff, featuring a corner entrance on its uppermost floor. Famous as a childhood hideout for Ray Bradbury, who helped fight for its preservation when threatened by demolition in the 1980s. Despite this, today its future still looks pretty grim.
Status: Vacant; impenetrable (don’t try it). Contact the city if you want in…
Flickr set(s): 2/24/15
200 E. Sea Horse Drive
As Johnson/OMC: 1926-2000
As BRP: 2003-2012
Colossal headquarters and assembly plant for a former marine industry titan. Johnson and Evinrude outboard motors were built here until the early-1980s, then the building was repurposed for a number of corporate, training, tech service, product testing and R&D functions for OMC until the company declared bankruptcy right before Christmas 2000. Bombardier quickly re-opened the aging facility with the long-term plan of relocating to Wisconsin, which ultimately didn’t happen until 2012 — when the building literally started falling apart.
Status: DEMOLISHED 2016; water tower still stands.
Flickr set(s): July 2016
Video: OMC XVI
Loot: Some paper things and an OMC banner that was hanging in the manufacturing area.
Child World store #80
699 Lakehurst Rd.
Long-vacant toy store on the outskirts of Lakehurst Mall; far as I know it was never re-occupied after the chain folded. It was briefly used for Shaw Company offices during the development of Fountain Square, and in 2004 used as a movie set for filming of 5-25-77.
Status: ABANDONED, bank-owned
Flickr set(s): Charles Lee Ray — 2/1/17
Loot: Chef Karl’s Edelweiss Inn sign – it was a restaurant in Libertyville that closed decades ago, I had a cousin and aunt who worked there in the ’70s. It later turned-out a friend’s best-friend’s grandfather was the owner, so it has been returned to his family. Nobody has any clue how it originally wound up in here.