Waukegan, IL

Reservations for GhostsNames:
Karcher Hotel
Collins-Karcher HotelKarcher Hotel for Active Senior Citizens

405 Washington Street

Years Active:

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

Flickr sets: 8/15/11 (post-restoration: 10/20/12, 12/15/12, 4/20/13, 10/23/13)

Southern Lights (redux)Names:
F. Sauter Building

33-37 S. Genesee Street

Years Active:
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

Flickr sets: Stern’s 2/19/12; Stern’s 2/26/12; Apartments November 2014; Demolition 11/13/14

Video: Sauter Building (LostWauk promo)

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 BuildingNames:
Waukegan National Bank; Waukegan Building; VIP Building

4 S. Genesee Street

Years Active:

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, but not actually abandoned.

Article: No

Flickr set(s): 5/23/14; August 2014; 3/31/15

Video: Weird Waukegan

Loot: Crazy Dwayne says I apparently tried to steal the safe…

Notes: DO NOT ATTEMPT. This place was vandalized so badly throughout 2015-16 that the owner installed live cameras near the only potential entry points, which I’m told the police immediately respond to if tripped. Not to mention said owner is batshit. We’re declassifying this location only because it is no-longer safe to mess with.

Waukegan Public Library; Carnegie Library

1 N. Sheridan Rd.

Years Active:
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, it still awaits restoration to this day.

Status: Vacantimpenetrable (don’t try it). Contact the city if you want in…

Article: No

Flickr set(s): 2/24/15

A Lack of Fire & A Lot of Smoke
Johnson Outboards
Outboard Marine Corporation Plant #1; BMCA/BRP Waukegan

200 E. Sea Horse Drive

Years Active:
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.

Article: No

Flickr set(s): July 2016

Video: OMC XVI

Loot: Some paper things and a banner that hung in the manufacturing area.