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Preservation News





Old buildings a “burden” on Chicago Public Schools
Letter to the Editor, Chicago Tribune
Jean A. Follett, Interim Executive Director

Your recent article on old school buildings in the Chicago Public School (CPS) system once again seeks to blame the buildings for problems created by the landlord. Most of these schools need basic maintenance: usually of their HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. New buildings will need this too, just not right away.

Demolishing old buildings and building new spends excessive money now to push these basic maintenance problems down the road. The fact is that most of the schools built prior to 1960 have better materials, better quality construction and can be made to be more energy efficient than new construction.

For the complete text, Letter to the Editor, Chicago Tribune


photo: Lindblom Math & Science Academy, Chicago, 2006 preservation award winner for rehabilitation.




How will Freeport respond to the City Hall challenge?
Letter to the Editor, Freeport Journal Standard
Jean A. Follett, Interim Executive Director

There is no cost-free solution to the current City Hall dilemma. Whether it’s renting in someone else’s building, rehabbing and moving to a different downtown building or building a new building—all will cost substantial tax dollars. The question is: what is the best long-term solution for Freeport?

Freeport’s City Hall is a building to be proud of. It has served as an anchor for the downtown for over 100 years, both visually and economically. Renovations will ensure that it continues to do so, with proper maintenance, for another century.


For the complete text, Letter to the Editor, Freeport Journal Standard




State Budget Axe Falls On Illinois Historic Site

Letter to the Editor
Jim Peters, President & CEO Landmarks Illinois


Close to half of the state’s historic sites will close on October 1, the result of recent budget cuts by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration this past week. Topping the list
was Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana Thomas House in Springfield—one of the acclaimed architect’s best known residential designs. The irony of this particular closing was that millions of tax-payers’ money was put into this home during the late 80s for its acquisition, restoration and eventual opening to the public in 1990.


For the complete text, Letter to the Editor on Historic Sites




Demolishing old buildings isn't considered 'green'
July 24, 2008

There has been much attention recently regarding the filming of Planet Green's new show "Wrecklamation," scheduled to premiere on Discovery Channel this fall.

The host, a Chicagoland native, finds homes that are slated for demolition, talks the owners into letting her auction off all the interior pieces and parts, and films the process, all the while claiming victory under the label of "green" for having saved items from ultimately going into landfill. A beautiful Queen Anne Victorian on Chicago Avenue in Naperville (a national epicenter for "teardowns") was to be the first filmed by the show.

So what's wrong with this picture? Well, the fact that Planet Green has postured a television show named "Wrecklamation" as being green should be the first tipoff that maybe not everything is as it seems.

 For the complete text, Letter to the Editor Naperville Sun



No Wisdom in Razing Architectural Resource

October 21, 2007

The house at 1028 S. Seventh St. was identified in a report titled, “Architectural Resources of the Aristocracy Hill Neighborhood of Springfield IL,” September 2003, prepared by architectural historians Floyd Mansberger and Chris Stratton. It was an architectural survey commissioned by the Springfield Historic Sites Commission. According to Mansberger, a respected Illinois architectural historian, the Maisenbacher House is undoubtedly eligible for listing in the National Register, as well as obtaining a local Springfield landmark designation. He says it is “one of the finer examples of Italianate houses in Springfield.”

Built in the mid-19th century, it is a rare existing example of this type of housing. Many such homes have already been lost in the neighborhood, leaving many holes and gaps in the Aristocracy Hill. There are plenty of other areas for parking already owned by the clinic. If the argument has been that it’s good to have the clinic near the downtown, then there is no wisdom in demolishing downtown buildings that can provide amenities to its employees and other downtown workers — all of which help contribute to building a vibrant business district.

David Bahlman
President, Landmarks Illinois

Published in the Sunday, October 21, 2007 State Journal-Register Letters to the Editor.



Landmarking or Landmocking?
Eroding the Concept of Authenticity
March 2007

Excerpt from Landmarks Illinois and Nation Trust for Historic Preservation March 2007 Op-Ed letter on the Farwell Building: A decade ago, a developer erected a series of fake building facades in Chicago’s River North area to disguise an otherwise banal retail block known as Al Capone’s “Old Chicago.” The theme project didn’t last very long.


 For the complete text, Op-ed on Farwell





President’s Message
David Bahlman, president Landmarks Illinois

January 2007

As Landmarks Illinois begins a new year of activity to protect the architectural and historic legacies of this state, we look back at the wide range of approaches that have been used to further our mission. Sometimes it has been simply educating others on the basic preservation tools and incentives that already exist. In other cases, it’s been working in a congenial and cooperative manner with owners, architects and developers. Occasionally, it’s taking a very strong stand against a project employing all means including legal and political strategies to ensure the protection of an important resource.

It is no surprise that the cooperative and collaborative methodology works the best. The staff and the board of Landmarks Illinois represent individuals with consummate professional training and expertise, and it is when these talents come together in consultation with receptive owners and developers that workable solutions are often created.

The sense of satisfaction in being actively involved in a process that saves a building or site is what keeps preservationists plugging away in the midst of the continual losses. The negotiations and creative process that resulted in the preservation of the DuPage and Pickford theatres, the Becker-Segal Estate, the South Water Market, and the Berwyn Bank, stand as examples of how Landmarks Illinois not only advocates for preservation, but works to find viable solutions. (For more information on these issues, go to Current News.)

Countless hours and dollars are contributed by Landmarks Illinois board members, working in concert with the staff, to produce professional studies, reports, and plans that demonstrate to municipalities, individuals and organizations that there are alternatives to demolition.

Being engaged in devising solutions has become a requisite for any preservation organization that wants to claim legitimacy. I am pleased to say that Landmarks Illinois is well-positioned to face another year that promises many successes.

I would like to thank the staff, our members, our board and other donors for their continued support, which has enabled these preservation efforts.

Photos top to bottom: Berwyn National Bank building c. 1920s, Becker-Segal Estate, Highland Park, DuPage Theater rally 2005.



Look at the Facts:
It’s Time to Save Cook County Hospital

December 2005


LPCI’s Letter to the Editor (Chicago Journal): Your story about how much it has cost taxpayers to maintain the vacant Cook County Hospital (Dec. 8) was somewhat misleading.


LPCI’s December 13 Letter to the Editor (Chicago Journal)

LPCI’s October 2005 Response to Cook County Board

LPCI April 2003 Letter to the Editor on Cook County Hospital


Photo: Cook County Hospital, Chicago








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tel. 312-922-1742 
fax 312-922-8112



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© Landmarks Illinois. All rights reserved. In addition to the copyright to this collective work, copyright to the materials which appear on this site may be held by the individual authors or others. Landmarks Illinois is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1971 and is the state's leading voice for historic preservation.