<!–/ .post-meta Entrance "After," Naperville Post Office, Photo by JLA Architects, 2012.

Walker C. Johnson has been a member of Preservation Action for thirty years. As a young professional, his background in history and architecture propelled him to become a key member in the preservation movement surrounding Chicago during the 1970s. Working in grassroots advocacy to rally public interest and organizational networks for historic preservation, Walker was a founding member of Landmarks Illinois and initiated the preservation branch of Holabird and Root architects/engineers.

Walker’s advocacy continues through his architectural preservation practice as a principal at Johnson Lasky Architects (JLA) and outside of the office through his continued leadership in organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (of which he is a Fellow), the Association for Preservation Technology, Landmarks Illinois, and the Society of Architectural Historians.

In the real world of preservation, one must understand the importance of the bottom line. Therefore, the opportunity to obtain historic tax incentives is a very important tool for preservation of historic buildings. Existence of this tool is often the deciding factor in choosing to reuse an existing historic structure or demoing the structure to rebuild from scratch. The use of tax incentives for historic preservation allows affordable reuse of buildings embedded in our cultural past which would otherwise become obsolete.

Wintrust Financial, the client for the Naperville Post Office reuse project, understands the importance of preserving these properties within their historyenriched communities as well as the benefits of historic preservation tax incentives. They continue to adapt historic properties for their use throughout the greater Chicagoland area, following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for rehabilitation and obtaining preservation tax incentives for each.

Naperville Post Office Restoration Project

Location: Naperville, Illinois
Preservation Architect: Johnson Lasky Architects, Chicago, IL
Architect of Record: Charles Vincent George, Naperville, IL

In preparation for repurposing the 1939 Post Office building in historic downtown Naperville, Johnson Lasky Architects provided preservation-related design services and prepared a Historic Preservation Certification Application (HPCA) for historic tax credits for the client and architect of record. Application documentation included photographs of current conditions, historic images, narrative of the building’s history, statement of significance, and description and drawings of proposed work for the conversion into a bank.

To secure the property’s historic status and qualify the project for historic tax credits, JLA to also prepared an amendment to the National Register of Historic Places nomination for Naperville Historic District. This amendment updated the nomination to consider properties 50 years or older at the time of its approval (2012), including the Post Office building. This process entailed further research on the history of the city, photographic survey of the historic district, and extensive cataloging of the Naperville’s current historic building stock.

Before and After Images

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Special thank you to Carolyn Andrews, Project Architect at JLA, for her work preparing this article for Preservation Action. Johnson Lasky Architects, founded in 1992 by partners Walker C. Johnson and Larry M. Lasky, is a full service architecture firm with a specialty in working with existing structures and in historic preservation. Areas of work include the preservation of National Landmark buildings as well as architectural projects for universities, churches, the public schools, engineering concerns, and commercial and private clients. The office is a unique blend of architects, designers, planners, and historians.

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