Selling the Farm

Insurance giant State Farm to demolish its art deco headquarters in Illinois

The State Farm building in Bloomington, Illinois. (Paul Sableman/Flickr)

Insurance company State Farm has revealed plans to demolish its 13-story art deco headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois, a city about an hour northeast of Springfield, the state capital.

The decision to knock down the local landmark came after a prospective buyer backed out of a sale earlier this year. The 200,000-square-foot structure was designed by local architects Archie Schaeffer and Phillip Hooton and completed in 1929. It was the company’s main building until 1974 and has sat vacant since 2018.

“Despite the best efforts of all parties, the purchase and sale agreement, which was announced in March, did not materialize,” State Farm said in a statement. “We gave much thought and consideration to next steps. With a sale not materializing, the continued costs of maintaining a building of that size and the impacts on downtown with it remaining vacant without interest, we are moving forward with plans to demolish the building.”

Large brown masonry building.

The State Farm building in Bloomington, Illinois. (Kent Kanouse/Flickr)

The building’s masonry was originally ornamented with flourishes like custom-designed corn maidens, four pale yellow terra-cotta finials on the building’s facade. They were removed for safety reasons, but now live in the company archives (and in a conference room). The bright red sign on the tower, pictured above, is another distinguishing feature.

Demolition is expected to begin this fall, but the building will not go down with a bang: the company is taking a year to carefully break down the structure.

“It’s unfortunate that did not work,” Mayor Tari Renner told the Pantagraph. “It’s very sad. It’s a great old historic building. To the extent we have a skyline, it’s always been the skyline in our city.”

The building contributes to the character of Bloomington’s central business district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The city said it won’t pay for the expensive demolition process, but it is considering offering incentives to a developer who could take on a revamp. It is also weighing the idea of buying the land that the building sits on so it can have a stronger say over what gets built there.

As of last week, however, a group of stakeholders is in talks with State Farm to explore alternatives to demolition.

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