Saint Ignatius College Prep purchased the former Lakeside Bank branch building across the street from the high school recently, with the intention of incorporating it into its adjoining Rice Park athletic facilities.
John Chandler, president of Saint Ignatius, confirmed the high school bought the two-acre site at 1055 W. Roosevelt Rd. soon after Lakeside Bank closed the branch and put the property up for sale. The property sits across the street from Saint Ignatius at 1076 W. Roosevelt Road.
Rice Park, located just behind the bank property, serves as Saint Ignatius’s home field for baseball and many other sports.
“It is a parcel that we will be able to utilize to enhance the athletic facilities at Rice Park, including providing storage and comfort facilities such as bathrooms, which we didn’t have,” Chandler explained. “It will also allow for expansion of our strength and conditioning programs and provide shelter and opportunities for indoor activities during inclement weather.”
The president declined to disclose the property’s 2023 sale price. In 2003, Lakeside Bank paid $1.12 million for the property, and spent another $900,000 to turn the interior into a banking facility.
The site also will allow the school to expand athletic facility parking.
“Parking is limited at Rice Park now,” Chandler said. “We just need to do some accommodations.” He expects the school to start using the building this fall.
The 32,000-square-foot, blue-and-white building, designed by Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman, dates to 1978, when the Illinois Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped built it.
Known for its rounded, steel-clad exterior originally painted in bright primary colors, the handicapped-accessible building is recognized worldwide as one of the first buildings designed specifically for blind and disabled people. It opened 12 years before President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act into law in 1990, making such buildings more common since then.
After the library closed in 1999, it relocated its books in braille, tapes, and other materials to Springfield, IL. The building remained vacant until Lakeside bought it in 2005 and turned it into a bank. By then, the vibrant exterior colors had faded and the bank repainted the structure in blue and white.
“We won’t be altering any of the interior design features,” said Chandler, referring to features remaining from the original design the library added to help blind and handicapped people using the facility.
He noted, however, that the bank already had made significant changes to the building when it created office spaces and banking facilities within.
“It was a cutting-edge building at the time,” but many of the original features are long gone, Chandler explained. He questioned architecture afficionados’ desire for Saint Ignatius to make few if any changes to the structure, suggesting perhaps they are putting too much focus on the site’s use as a public library. In fact, much of the space, even in the early years, served mainly as a warehouse for books and other materials for blind and handicapped people.
“I am not sure how much walk-in traffic there was,” Chandler said. “Because it was a warehouse and shipping and distribution center for books, it did have a large loading and shipping area.
“We don’t plan on renaming it just yet,” he added. “I wish we had a benefactor whose name could be put on it. For now, we are just calling it the 1055 W. Roosevelt building,” which will provide “an enhancement to Rice Park.”
For Saint Ignatius, call (312) 421-5900 or log on to www.ignatius.org.