655 Forest Avenue

Year of award: 
1991
Award category: 
Renovation
Original architect: 
Charles Sumner Frost, Alfred E. Granger
Year built: 
1901

The Old Fire Station, now functioning as South Gate Cafe, was one of the first fire stations in town.  The building was designed originally with three bays for horse-drawn wagons.  At one time, the jail was also located in this building. Later, the Lake Forest Recreation Department held classes there. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places as a structure within the Lake Forest National Register Historic District.

The present owners recognized the possibilities inherent in the fine old building when the City of Lake Forest offered it for sale with restoration contingencies in the early 1980s. Restoring the exterior with great care and carefully adapting the interior for restaurant activities, the owners ensured the building's viability in the historic Market Square streetscape.  All plans had to meet strenuous standards to receive approval from the Illinois Historic Preservation Office for compliance with the Historic Preservation Tax Act then in effect.