Barbara Karant
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The Sears Power House was designed by George C. Nimmons and completed in 1905 as part of a four building complex for Sears, Roebuck and Co. The Power House powered the 55 acre Sears property for nearly 70 years until the company’s relocation to the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Minimal operations continued there until 2004, when it was fully decommissioned.

The Power House sat vacant and deteriorating for years and in that state I was fortunate to have the opportunity to explore the building. It was cold, dirty, rat infested and quite spectacular. Rather quickly my perspective on it became clear, as the building served as a metaphor for an individual’s decline, disablement and eventual passing.

Subsequent to my study, the building has undergone a $40 million dollar restoration and historic preservation effort that has resulted in LEED Platinum certified structure. It now operates as a modern public charter high school. A part of Chicago history was reclaimed with the renovation of this building in an underserved neighborhood. The Sears Power House is The Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center. Although the structure nowadays is the home to Power House High, it will always remain archived for me as my Egresses and Containments exploration.

This body of work is dedicated to my beloved mother Rose G. Karant.