Cicero Firehouse stairway view of 2nd floor 0617
Cicero Firehouse sign 0416
Cicero Firehouse ceiling 0416
Cicero Firehouse 2nd floor 0416
Cicero Firehouse bathroom 0617
Cicero Firehouse 2nd floor 0615
Cicero Firehouse 1st floor 0617

Oak Park Historical Society

Oak Park, IL




Harvest Commons, built in 1929 and a Chicago Landmark since 2010, had several former lives as an "apartment hotel," and was first known as the Union Park Hotel and later the Viceroy Hotel.  By 2004, the six-story building, with an intricate terracotta façade overlooking Union Park, had fallen into disrepair and was shuttered. In keeping with its residential history, it was subsequently modernized into living quarters for those in need of affordable housing such as former homeless people and prisoners.


Green Upgrade Details


The Harvest Commons renovation, completed in 2013, focused on remodeling and enlarging the apartment spaces (a total of 89 units). Each now contains low-flow faucets and showerheads. A large kitchen on the first floor and a café addition were constructed to serve as training facilities for the tenants. Energy efficiency improvements included new wall insulation and lighting. The lobby, including original wall carvings, was restored and covered by a new bamboo floor.


Solar thermal panels on the roof now supply more than half of the building’s hot water, and a 13-well geothermal system provides heating and cooling. Approximately one-third of the roof, which is covered by a reflective coating, is vegetated.


Outside, adjacent to the building, a mini-farm, complete with chickens, vegetables, and herbs, was constructed for use by the residents. A 50-gallon rain barrel was installed to collect stormwater, and shielded exterior lamps cut down on light pollution.


Recycling is encouraged through designating separate chutes inside the building for trash and recycling, and there are composting bins outdoors.


Major Players


  • Heartland Housing

  • First Baptist Congregational Church 

  • Landon Bone Baker

  • Linn-Mathes

  • Harley Ellis Devereaux 


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