Success Stories

Landmarks Illinois Success Stories

All preservation issues are different and complicated in their own way. Local politics and lack of financing are two of the most common challenges to community activists seeking to save an historic place. The following stories serve as inspiration and models of successful preservation.

Rosenwald Court Apartments

In September 2016, after years of advocating for the Rosenwald Court Apartments, Landmarks Illinois joined public officials and community representatives in celebrating the grand reopening of the rehabilitated, historically significant housing complex in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

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St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church

After 17 years of advocacy, the historic former St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church in Chicago’s Near Northwest Side neighborhood has been given a new life. On September 23, 2016, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development announced the church had been purchased by Chicago developer Stas Development, saving the historic building from demolition.

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Irving House

In the waning hours of a deadline set by a developer who intended to demolish the 1928 Prairie-style Irving House, designed by noted architect John Van Bergen, Chris Enck, a project engineer with the firm Klein and Hoffman and vice-chair of Landmarks Illinois’ young professionals’ Skyline Council, bought the house for $10 and orchestrated a complicated move of the house from Wilmette to Evanston. (Photo credit: Chris Enck)

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Assumption School

This Beaux Arts-style structure, which was built in 1899 by St. Frances Cabrini to serve the Near North Side’s immigrant community, is being converted to residential condominiums. The structure had been threatened with demolition before it was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2003, following placement on Landmarks Illinois’ Chicagoland Watch List. (Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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C. S. DOLE MANSION

The Lakeside Legacy Foundation turned this 2002 Chicagoland Watch List site into one of 2003 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award winners. “This unprecedented effort by the Lakeside Legacy Foundation not only saved a local landmark, but it has continued with their very public process to find appropriate long-term uses for the property,” noted former Landmarks Illinois President David Bahlman. (Photo credit: Patty Bell, Marketing & Graphic Assistant, Lakeside Legacy Foundation)

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Farnsworth House

One of the most significant residential designs of the 20th century—architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House—was saved in late 2003 through a joint effort by Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and the Friends of the Farnsworth House. (Photo credit: Hedrich Blessing)

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Gillett Memorial Arch

The Gillett Memorial Arch, will remain in place despite the county’s attempts to have it demolished to accommodate a road widening project. The scenic bridge was included in the 2005 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list. Commissioned by former Illinois First Lady Emma Gillett Oglesby in 1915 as a memorial to her brother, this cast concrete bridge serves as a link between the family cemetery and the grounds of the historic estate. (Photo credit: Hedrich Blessing)

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Glasner House

The sale of this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residence to a preservation-minded owner was completed in June 2003. There were fears that the 1905 building, which had been listed for sale by its current owner, would be purchased and demolished by someone more interested in redeveloping the wooded corner lot. (Photo credit: Eric Hausman)

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Jacobs Block/Rock River Bank

After more than a year of community protest, the Oregon City Council voted in February 2005 against a proposed Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) road widening project that would have required the demolition of two prominent corner buildings at the intersection of Illinois Routes 2 and 64. (Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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Longfellow School

After several years of debate—and inclusion on Landmarks Illinois’ 2007 Most Endangered Historic Places list—the Rock Island-Milan School District has agreed to retain and renovate this 1934 Tudor-style elementary school. When the district announced in 2004 it would be closing several neighborhood schools, there was huge public protest. (Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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Old City Hall

The West Frankfort City Council voted to accept a bid of $10,429 from Dr. Ted VanAcker for the purchase of the Old City Hall on July 13, 2004. Dr. VanAcker intends to renovate the building to become the Franklin County branch of his Southern Illinois Dermatology clinic. This successfully ended the long grassroots effort to save the building from demolition, as was previously planned by the city. (Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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River Forest Women’s Club

This 1913 board-and-batten clubhouse was designed by the Prairie School Architect William Drummond, who was Frank Lloyd Wright’s chief draftsman and husband of one of the women’s club members. His design has been recognized in Frederick Koeper’s 1968 publication, Illinois Architecture from Territorial Times to Present where it was compared stylistically to Wright’s masterpiece Unity Temple. (Photo credit: Marion Digre of RE/MAX In The Village)

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Scherer Flats

This famed 11-block-long wall of buildings facing Grant Park is now a protected local landmark district. It originally was proposed for landmark protection in 1976, but due to opposition from property owners, it did not receive landmark designation from the Chicago City Council until 2002. Design guidelines for the district have been drafted with input from property owners and design professionals. (Photo credit: Antunovich Associates)

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South Michigan Avenue Streetwall

This famed 11-block-long wall of buildings facing Grant Park is now a protected local landmark district. It originally was proposed for landmark protection in 1976, but due to opposition from property owners, it did not receive landmark designation from the Chicago City Council until 2002. Design guidelines for the district have been drafted with input from property owners and design professionals. (Photo credit: Antunovich Associates)

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South Water Street Market

A private developer, Enterprise Inc., is turning these eight terracotta buildings into residential buildings containing approximately 850 new units. The complex, designed by architects Fugard & Knapp in 1925, was vacated in 2003, after serving for 78 years as the city’s primary wholesale food market. (Photo credit: Antunovich Associates)

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St. Gelasius Catholic Church

At its meeting on September 4, 2003, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted to begin the process of designating this South Side church as a local landmark. The preliminary designation, along with a decision to deny a demolition permit application filed by the building’s owner, the Archdiocese of Chicago, was a historic action on the part of the Commission. (Photo credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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Wilder Mansion

On December 7, 2008, the Elmhurst Park District hosted a grand reopening gala and public open house to celebrate the renovation of this 1868 structure, which served as the city’s library from 1922 to 2003. The celebration came just three years after the then-vacant structure landed on Landmarks Illinois 2006-07 Chicagoland Watch List.

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Zook Home and Studio

Just two months after being targeted for demolition, a unique complex of structures designed by architect R. Harold Zook was saved and relocated by the Hinsdale Historical Society to a village park two miles south. The complex included an English Cotswold Cottage-style residence, an architecture studio and a garden wall—all of which were designed in 1924 for Zook’s own use.

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