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Preservation Resources

Reports & Surveys





Landmarks Illinois and the Illinois Association of Historic Preservation Commissions (IAHPC) heard many stories throughout 2015 of difficult preservation decisions and policy changes in suburban communities throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. We continue to hear about struggles many suburban preservation commissions are experiencing, specifically related to local landmark designation efforts, preservation ordinances, demo delay ordinances and threats to designated local landmarks.

Our organizations issued a survey in August, 2015 to gauge the level of support for historic preservation in suburban communities. It was structured to identify current or emerging preservation issues faced by local communities, municipal and county planning staffs, and local historic preservation commissioners in Chicago's suburbs. The results of the survey will guide us in developing programs and strategies to address suburban historic preservation challenges.

A meeting of Landmarks Illinois’ Suburban Preservation Alliance was convened in Evanston on September 12, 2015 to present the results of the survey. Hosted by the Evanston Historic Preservation Commission, the day allowed us to hear feedback from preservation advocates who attended from over a dozen communities.

Here for your review is a summary of the survey results. Please share this information with your fellow preservation advocates and commissioners and give us your thoughts.

A special thanks to Diane Williams, Director, Business Districts Inc. (BDI), John Hedrick, Senior Fellow, Chaddick Institute, Jean Follett, Landmarks Illinois Board Member and Doug Kaarre, Board President, IAHPC for their help in organizing this survey.

If you are not part of the Suburban Preservation Alliance email network and would like to receive notices about future meetings, contact Lisa DiChiera, Director of Advocacy at DiChieraL@LPCI.org

What is the Suburban Preservation Alliance? The Suburban Preservation Alliance was initiated by the Midwest Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2008 to bring together suburban preservation advocates in the Chicago area to discuss challenges, opportunities and strategies. Initially it was part of the National Trust’s advocacy effort on behalf of communities that were experiencing teardowns and their associated impacts. An online group was formed enabling participants to communicate and share documents and best practices. When the National Trust realigned its staff and its advocacy work in 2012, management of the Alliance was passed to Landmarks Illinois. The group began meeting on a more regular basis, with quarterly meetings in north, west and south suburban areas. Meeting topics have included teardowns, surveys, house tours, real estate training, effective advocacy and more. The SPA continues to provide an important networking opportunity and communications nexus for suburban preservation commissions and advocates.

Chicago Suburban Preservation Survey 2015



Opportunities with Food Partners to Reuse Closed CPS Schools


Landmarks Illinois has released a study, Opportunities with Food Partners to Reuse Closed CPS Schools, with recommendations to the Chicago Public Schools regarding architecturally significant schools that have the opportunity to be partially repurposed with a food-related use. LI commissioned New Venture Advisors, a firm that helps communities and entrepreneurs identify market-based food systems solutions and build them into successful enterprises, to conduct the study to identify closed schools with high potential for a food-related reuse based on the condition of its commercial kitchen, ancillary indoor or outdoor space, neighborhood activity and interested organizations. Working from a list of eighteen architecturally significant closed schools identified by LI, New Venture Advisors recommended five key schools for this purpose. As stated in the study, “Chicago is emerging as a leader in food entrepreneurship, local food systems, urban agriculture, and healthy food access innovation….Within this exciting food culture, assets like closed CPS schools …which previously served as focal points of their community and often have beautiful, well designed facilities with functional commercial kitchen space, can be very well positioned to play a key role in this rapidly expanding sector.”


Opportunities with Food Partners to Reuse Closed CPS Schools

To learn about the factors considered by New Venture Advisors to recommend schools with the best opportunity for a food-related reuse, see “Closed Public Schools: A Framework for Evaluating Food-Related Reuse Potential."

Click here, for more information about Chicago Public Schools’ closed school buildings and repurposing efforts.



This study was generously funded by the Alphawood Foundation.





In 2009 the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust awarded Landmarks Illinois $1 million to create the Landmarks Illinois’ Richard H. Driehaus Courthouse Initiative. Over a five-year period, the funds were distributed, through matching grants, to help support projects in 17 counties around the state. The program supported the restoration of defining features of historic county courthouses such as clocks, bell towers, cupolas, and entryways. Some counties also received funds to design and implement energy efficient exterior lighting.

Landmarks Illinois commissioned a study by PlaceEconomics, a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm specializing in the economics of revitalization, to gain a deeper understanding of the impacts the courthouse initiative had locally. Project impacts varied widely—sometimes unexpectedly, but always positively. Variations among counties included project scope of work, perceptions of each courthouse, and local economic realities—all of which illuminated a unique story for each courthouse.

The Jury Is In: Impacts of Landmarks Illinois Courthouse Initiative



Landmarks Illinois has issued a report on the economic impact of the River Edge Redevelopment Zone State Historic Tax Credit in Rockford, Illinois


Rockford is seeing a new wave of development within the River Edge Redevelopment Zone, largely because of the attractive State Historic Tax Credit that is offered to developers layered with the Federal Historic Tax Credit. The State Historic Tax Credit has made and continues to make projects happen that bring in new restaurants, a destination banquet and brewing facility, dozens of residential lofts, and premier office space that attracts the right talent to Rockford and to Illinois. This tax credit brings life to many historic buildings that otherwise would stay off the tax rolls, assists in boosting property values, and attracts young professionals with well-paying jobs to the area and to the state. In Rockford alone, the RERZ HTC has resulted in $120 million in private investment in Rockford’s historic places.


Set to expire on January 1, 2017, the River Edge Redevelopment Zone (RERZ) Historic Tax Credit was created to revive and redevelop challenged historic properties in five river-adjacent Illinois cities: Aurora, East St. Louis, Elgin, Peoria, and Rockford. SB 1642 – the River Edge HTC extension bill – calls for the extension of this critical financing program. If not extended, many historic buildings in these cities will not be redeveloped and put back on the tax rolls. More time is needed for other critical projects to be completed that are still in the planning and pre-development phase.


What You Can Do


Please join us in working alongside the five pilot program cities to pass this important extension. Please take just 10 minutes to reach out to your elected officials, particularly your State Senator and Representative, to let them know that preservation is a budget priority for you.


This report was generously underwritten by Alphawood Foundation Chicago.


Economic Impact of the River Edge Redevelopment Zone State Historic Tax Credit in Rockford, Illinois



Rehabilitation and Reuse Opportunities for the Maywood Home for Soldiers’ Widows

With our consulting team, Landmarks Illinois believes that due to the building’s layout and location, an office or medical office conversion would offer an excellent reuse opportunity for the Soldiers’ Widows Home. We encourage the Village of Maywood Trustees and Village staff to market the Home together with the adjacent land at 1st Avenue and Lake Street for reuse and redevelopment. Incorporating this important piece of Maywood’s history into the redevelopment of this highly visible intersection could have a positive impact on both the surrounding area and the Village as a whole.


Rehabilitation and Reuse Opportunities for the Maywood Home for Soldiers’ Widows



State Historic Tax Economic Credit Study


This report, which examines the potential rehabilitation of historic buildings using a proposed 20% statewide historic tax credit, found that:


• A statewide historic tax credit would pay for itself and create jobs across the state.

• The existing River’s Edge Historic Tax Credit, available only in 5 cities, is not sufficient for attracting investment and creating jobs statewide.

• The state would receive revenues before it would allocate tax credits to historic rehabilitation projects.

• A historic tax credit would be immediately accessible to eligible properties in communities across the entire state.


State Historic Tax Economic Credit Study




Measuring the Economics of Preservation

PlaceEconomics has prepared a report on measuring the economic impact of historic preservation for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.


In the last fifteen years dozens of studies have been conducted throughout the United States, by different analysts, using different methodologies. But the results of those studies are remarkably consistent — historic preservation is good for the local economy. This short version of the full report includes highlights from some of this research.


Measuring the Economics of Preservation




Measuring the Economic Impact of Federal Historic Properties

This report is an introduction to the impact of federal stewardship of historic properties on economic vitality.

It discusses the difficulties in measuring the economic impact of historic preservation.

Provides a three-dimensional analytical framework that Federal managers should consider in analyzing the economic impact of their agency’s historic preservation programs. The three dimensions are: economic activities, economic benefits, and economic effects.

Examines the historic preservation activities undertaken by Federal agencies and how they can generate positive effects.


Measuring the Economic Impact of Federal Historic Properties



Prentice Reuse Study Released

Landmarks Illinois, in late April 2011, issued a report that shows how the nearly-vacant former Prentice Women’s Hospital building can be reused, rather than demolished.


The building’s owner, Northwestern University, recently had announced plans to raze the clover leafshaped structure in late 2011, when its last occupant is relocated. The 36-year-old concrete-and-glass building, which was designed by influential architect Bertrand Goldberg, is considered to be one of Chicago’s most distinctive architectural designs from the 1970s.

Prentice Women’s Hospital Reuse Study

For the full background of this advocacy effort, click here.



Lathrop Homes Redevelopment and Preservation Plan


Since the listing of Lathrop Homes as one of Landmarks Illinois’ 2007 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, Landmarks Illinois has attempted to demonstrate the viability of this 1937-vintage public housing complex. In early 2008, Landmarks Illinois presented to Lathrop residents a redevelopment and preservation plan, prepared by Antunovich Associates.


Please Note: The redevelopment and preservation plan link above is for the Lathrop Homes Redevelopment and Preservation Plan in PDF format. The PDF file size is 11.5MB. This large of a PDF file is best viewed on your computer and not on the web. We suggest saving the Lathrop PDF to your desktop by right clicking the link above and saving the PDF to your computer desktop or other folder.



A Reuse Plan for Cook County Hospital: A Better and More Cost-Effective Alternative to Demolition


The nearly century-old building at 1835 W. Harrison Street in Chicago had been the subject of a nine-year advocacy effort to prevent its demolition. That battle ended on March 2, 2010, when the Cook County Board voted to support a rehabilitation proposal to convert the long-vacant structure into medical offices.


Landmarks Illinois, in 2001, had included the mammoth, two-block-long Beaux Arts-style building as one of its “Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.” The listing had been prompted by the construction of a replacement hospital next to the historic building.


A detailed reuse plan, featuring design solutions and construction estimates, was prepared by LI in April 2003 and was widely distributed to public officials and developers. For the full background of this advocacy effort, click here.



The Impact of Historic District Designation on Property Values


A study complied by the Rockford Historic Preservation Commission with assistance from the Rockford Community and Economic Development addresses the common misconception that inclusion in a historic district lowers property values.


The study found just the opposite: “Whether we looked at assessed valuations over time or sales prices, properties in Rockford’s four residential historic districts generally performed better over the past 30 years than did equivalent properties in comparable neighborhoods.”


Rockford, Impact of Historic Districts On Property Values



Greystone Design Guidelines Booklet


After more than 100 years of use, Greystones can exhibit a range of maintenance and repair needs. To help identify and properly treat these issues, the Greystone Design Guidelines Booklet looks at the components of a typical Greystone – masonry, front porches, windows, roofs/cornices, interiors, and mechanical systems. The Booklet focuses on each of these parts, providing simple “Do” and “Don’t” guidance and illustrations to help homeowners better consider what repairs need to be made and what architectural features/materials need to be protected or preserved during the home improvement process.


   Greystone Design Guidelines Booklet.PDF


This booklet was created by the Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative®. Educating homeowners about the care and preservation of Greystones is a central part of the mission of the Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative®



How to Save a Landmark


Whether you belong to an existing preservation organization or to a group of individuals organizing now to save an important structure or site, the fight ahead of you may be difficult. This Guide is meant to help you through the process of protecting your community’s architecturally and historically significant properties.


The Guide lays out steps you can follow in your preservation efforts. In addition to presenting ideas for organizing, tactics, and strategies, the Guide also tells five success stories.


   How to Save a Landmark.PDF



To order a bound copy of How to Save a Landmark, please call us at (312) 922-1742. You may charge the shipping cost of $1.75 to Visa, MasterCard or American Express.


Joliet-Lemont Limestone: Preservation of an Historic Building Material


This booklet is intended as a practical guide to the conservation of Joliet-Lemont limestone. It is designed to assist building owners, architects and contractors in making informed decisions and to provide scholars and the public with the historical and technical understanding of this stone which was so important to the settlement and industrialization of Illinois.


   Joliet-Lemont Limestone.PDF


To order a bound copy of Joliet-Lemont Limestone: Preservation of an Historic Building Material, please call us at (312) 922-1742. You may charge the shipping cost of $1.75 to Visa, MasterCard or American Express.




School Siting Study


Local neighborhood schools are important anchors in a community. A study addressing the issue of school siting policy is being undertaken by the State of Illinois, with joint funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study will address legislation and district procedures for determining new school locations and the barriers to maintaining existing neighborhood-based schools, most of which are historic buildings. A white paper will be produced for state legislators, in order to recommend policy changes and the benefits of renovating older schools and to retain schools that children can walk to. Landmarks Illinois is a co-sponsor of the study. For more information, go to www.standingupforillinois.org/green/school_siting.



Barn Preservation: A Survey of Illinois Activity


Above-average temperatures and a severe lack of rainfall this summer have heightened awareness of the struggles faced by small-operation farmers. As family farms struggle to endure, the preservation of historic agricultural structures—most notably, barns—is a growing concern. Each year, more and more of these “prairie cathedrals” disappear from our rural landscape.


In response, LPCI this past summer contacted county officials, AG extension agents, and other local leaders from nearly all of the state’s 102 counties. Here are a few key findings & impressive accomplishments found in the survey:




Key Findings






Architectural surveys of rural structures have been completed—or are ongoing—in 20 Illinois counties. In 16 of these counties, the surveys were initiated by a local historical society or a group of concerned individuals.


Barn tours have been established in 10 counties, ranging from Jo Daviess and McHenry counties in the north to Bond and Union counties in the south. All of these tours have become ongoing events, either as organized group or self-guided tours.


A range of other activities have promoted historic barns in at least 22 counties. These include the publication of barn calendars (e.g., Iroquois County), the organization of museum exhibits (e.g., Crawford County), and the restoration of barns for public use (a barn bed-and-breakfast in Wabash County received an award from the National Trust).




A survey of Champaign County, which was conducted by the Women’s Committee of the Champaign County Farm Bureau, documented over 650 barns. Rock Island County’s survey identified 450 barns.


The McLean County Barn Keepers, a nonprofit group, stages barn dances, publishes a calendar, and sponsors day trips of barns.


The Piatt County barn tour, now in its eighth year, attracted over 600 participants from seven states in 2004.


The Shelby County Historical Society recently published a book featuring 30 barns.


The Ryan Round Barn in Henry County is being operated by the Friends of Johnson Park Foundation, which recently raised over $5,000 to paint the barn and build a new ramp.



Our statewide survey also identified counties that might be interested in enacting a historic preservation ordinance. Currently, only five counties (Kane, Logan, McHenry, Sangamon, and Will) have preservation laws; but Logan County’s landmarks ordinance appears to be inactive.


This research also will help support the efforts of the Illinois Barn Alliance, a group that will be holding its 3rd annual conference, Sept. 16-18, in Ullin, 20 miles north of Cairo. For more conference information, go to Preservation Community Events.



For more information on our statewide survey, contact LPCI’s Advocacy Director, Lisa DiChiera, by e-mail at DiChieraL@lpci.org.


This survey was conducted in Summer 2005 by LPCI intern Nicholas Hayward, a graduate student in Historic Preservation Planning at Cornell University. He hails from the rural community of Chillicothe, Illinois.


Rural Preservation Activity in Illinois.PDF


(LPCI statewide survey, 108 pages)

Barn Activities in Illinois.PDF


Barn Surveys in Illinois.PDF

Barn Re-Uses in Illinois.PDF


Barn Tours in Illinois.PDF


  Illinois Initiative on Recent Past Architecture (IIRPA) Having recognized that there are several organizations committed to identifying and advocating for the protection of “recent past” architecture, LPCI has initiated a cooperative effort among these groups to organize a major survey of recent past architecture in the Chicagoland area. Click to view the IIRPA Survey.



Religious Properties


The Northeast Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in collaboration with Partners for Sacred Places, has just compiled a series of case studies showing new uses for closed religious properties from communities across the country. To learn more visit: www.nationaltrust.org/issues/houses_of_worship.


LPCI has prepared a short pictorial survey of Chicago’s endangered, unprotected, lost, and reused religious structures which is available for viewing by clicking the PDF file below. For more information on this issue go to Should Religious Properties Be Landmarked?


Chicago's Religious Structures: An Endangered Resource.PDF



Owner Consent Clause: Good or Bad?


Many communities debate whether or not to include an owner consent clause in their preservation ordinance, which requires that in order for a building to be landmarked, the owner must give his or her consent. While an owner consent clause is not encouraged by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency for local preservation ordinances, it is allowed.


Pia Hermoso, an intern for LPCI from the Historic Preservation program at the School of the Art Institute, surveyed Certified Local Governments (CLG) in Illinois to determine which had owner consent clauses in their ordinances. Based on that, she inquired how each community assessed its preservation accomplishments. Her survey shows on average, CLGs without owner consent clauses have a slightly better track record in regard to landmark designations.


However, some CLGs with owner consent clauses have had effective landmarking efforts correlated with extensive educational outreach to historic building owners, specifically regarding the rehabilitation tax incentives available to owners of landmarked buildings. In either circumstance, it is clear education is the key to making owners comfortable with what it means to own a locally landmarked property. 


Preservation Ordinance Owner Consent Clause Survey.PDF







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