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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Stratton Office Building

I just finished reading two articles in the Illinois Times, our local independent newspaper, about the William G. Stratton Office Building.

I‛ve only been in the building a couple times in the last 20 years. Although, I did work on the second floor for six months in 1978.

It's the story of an old building that one faction of people want to get rid of and replace, and another faction wants to keep and refurbish. There's been a lot of hype about what to do with this 50 year old building recently. The arguments for getting rid of the building include mechanical problems, safety, asbestos, lead paint, and it's just plain ugly. Of course, the historic preservationists have their arguments, too. We've heard all it all before. The building is safe from the wrecking ball, for now, due to the state's financial situation.

If the authors would have dug a little deeper into the origins of the Stratton Office Building (sometimes fondly referred to as the SOB), they might have discovered another reason to keep the building. According to local lore, the then economy-minded state government saved on architect fees by purchasing a set of off the shelf blueprints for the building. Only thing, those blueprints were not created for the utilitarian office building that the SOB is. Instead, the blueprints were made for a hospital.

The building's hospital roots are evident by just strolling down the super-wide halls that are commonly found in hospitals. A couple gurneys would easily fit in each of the elevator cars. Many of the rooms would fit four beds with plenty of room to spare.

It was thought by some that if a medical epidemic emergency ever struck Springfield that the two hospitals couldn't handle, the Stratton Office Building could quickly be converted into medical facilities to take up the slack. That argument might effectively be made today as part of the effort to save the building. Just a thought.

A word about the so-called lore. I'm not making this up. Although, I have to admit to having only ever heard this once. So, it may not actually qualify as lore. However, I have no reason to doubt the person I heard it from. I'm calling it lore until further notice.

Posted by Marie at July 22, 2004 12:35 AM