Reports & Surveys
CHALLENGES IN THE CHICAGO SUBURBS
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.
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
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.
Landmarks Illinois has issued a
report on the economic impact of the River Edge Redevelopment Zone State
Historic Tax Credit in Rockford, Illinois
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.
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.
State Historic Tax Economic Credit
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 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.
Measuring the Economics of Preservation
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 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.
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
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.
Lathrop Homes Redevelopment and
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
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
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
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.
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,
The Impact of Historic District Designation on Property Values
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.”
Greystone Design Guidelines Booklet
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
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
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
Joliet-Lemont Limestone: Preservation of an
Historic Building Material
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.
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,
A Survey of Illinois Activity
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,
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:
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
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
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
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.
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
For more information on our statewide survey, contact LPCI’s Advocacy Director,
Lisa DiChiera, by e-mail at
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.
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.
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:
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
Owner Consent Clause: Good or Bad?
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.