The Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund Grant Program Recipients

The Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund for Illinois was created in 2014 to provide monetary assistance to preserve or protect significant structures and sites in Illinois. Read more about the recipients of the grant program below.

2021 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

House of Prayer

Central Park Theater, Chicago


The congregation will use the grant funding to complete a facility cost estimate for the Central Park Theater, a more than 100-year old former theater in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Facility Cost Estimate will be based on the complete building assessment and restoration plan conducted on the building by Wiss, Janney, Elstner, Associates Inc.

The Central Park Theater is arguably one of the most historically important movie houses in the United States. The first Balaban & Katz movie palace in collaboration with the architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp, the Central Park was the model for those that came after. With nearly 1,800 seats, the Central Park opened in 1917 and remained a profitable theater for decades until becoming a church in 1971. Since acquiring the property, the House of Prayer has utilized the theater as a church sanctuary and a venue for special events. Although the congregation has done a noble job keeping the theater intact and maintaining most of its remarkable interior and exterior features, deferred maintenance issues have become overwhelming.

Landmarks Illinois included the theater on its 2015 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Landmarks Illinois previously awarded the congregation two Preservation Heritage Fund Grants to help with preservation efforts: A 2005 grant helped pay for the National Register nomination process and a structural assessment. And a 2017 grant went toward  emergency electrical work. Landmarks Illinois’ Skyline Council hosted a volunteer cleanup of the property in 2018, and Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera continues to work with the congregation.



2020 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Victory Gardens Theater


Learn more

2019 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Save Piety Hill Coalition

Piety Hill Landmark District Designation, Rockford

Learn More

2018 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Friends of Historic Second Church

Second Presbyterian Church, Chicago (pictured)

Learn More

2017 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Chicago Parks Foundation:

Jens Jensen Formal Garden, Chicago

Evanston History Center:

Charles Gates Dawes House, Evanston

Learn More

2016 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Pleasant Home Foundation:

Preservation in Person program, Oak Park

City of Princeton:

Downtown Feasibility Study (pictured)

Learn More

2015 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Stockton American Legion Post No. 449:

Thompson Cemetery, Stockton

Learn More

2014 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Pleasant Home Foundation:

HVAC Engineering Feasibility Study, Oak Park

Learn More

Support our advocacy

Be a voice for the future of our communities by supporting Landmarks Illinois. Our work enhances communities, empowers citizens, promotes local economic development and offers environmentally sound solutions.

Become A Member