Completed in 1905 as one of four main buildings of the George C. Nimmons designed Sears, Roebuck and Co. complex (listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978), the Power House powered the massive 55-acre Sears complex until the company’s 1973 relocation to the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. Minimal operations continued until 2004, when the Power House was fully decommissioned; vacant and deteriorating, becoming a classic “white elephant” building with limited reuse.
What began as a simple quest to determine the best use for an empty building, turned into a grand plan for reclaiming a chunk of Chicago history by offering brighter futures to kids in a tragically underserved neighborhood.
The Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center is home to Henry Ford Academy: Power House High. A $40 million restoration and historic preservation effort resulted in a LEED Platinum certified historic structure that now operates as a modern public charter high school.
Historic preservation features include a restored chimney, restored windows and doors, and the retention of original power generating machinery. Green features include a geothermal heating and cooling system, an overall water conservation and management system, as well as lighting controls and energy-efficient sky-lights.