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Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
Illinois Institute of Technology Armour Mission
There's not much left of the Armour Mission today. Just a marker peeking a couple of inches high out of the soil of the IIT campus. But the mission is an important part of Chicago's history.The Armour Mission was built by Philip D. Armour at the request of his late brother, Joseph F. Armour. When Joseph died in 1881 he gave his brother $100,000 to establish a Sunday school. Phillip added $100,000 of his own and the building was erected. Initially its patrons were members of the Plymouth Church. But since the mission was non-sectarian people flocked to it from all over. It offered educational and vocational classes to hundreds of children, and eventually developed into the powerhouse educational institution known as the Illinois Institute of Technology.Such a transformation doesn't come without growing pains, and one of those happened in 1962 when the original Armour Mission building was demolished. In many ways the original building resembled what is now IIT's Main Building; red brick, fiercely sloping roof, and a cone-capped turret. But in the long run, IIT (then known as Armour Institute of Technology) can be forgiven for this transgression because it developed one of the best architecture schools in the region, and is home to some of the most pioneering examples of modern architecture in Illinois.
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