Preservation News – The LI Blog

Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit spurs millions in economic activity in Illinois: Study

An annual study prepared by Rutgers for the National Parks Service shows the extensive positive impacts the Federal Historic Tax Credit has on the nation’s economy. In Illinois alone, during the federal government’s 2018 fiscal year, the Federal HTC contributed to $520 million in output in terms of goods and services and created nearly 4,000 new jobs across the state. Read our blog post that highlights these impressive stats on both the state and national level.

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Preservation News Roundup: September 2019

LI’s monthly news roundup features the top advocacy efforts and preservation stories for the month. For September, we update you on preservation projects in Bloomington to save the former State Farm headquarter building, a community meeting in Rock Island to discuss the furure of the historic courthouse and provide an updated condition assessment report for the Harley Clarke Mansion in Evanston. Stay up to date with LI’s latest projects and news by viewing this monthly newsletter!

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Updated Condition Assessment Report of Harley Clarke Mansion Available During City’s RFP Process

On behalf of Landmarks Illinois, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE) has prepared an updated condition assessment report on the historic Harley Clarke Mansion and coach house in Evanston. Landmarks Illinois is publicly providing the revised WJE condition assessment for all parties interested in responding to the city’s RFP for long-term lease, rehabilitation and reuse of the architecturally and culturally significant property. (Photo: Representatives from WJE perform a condition assessment at Harley Clarke in August 2019)

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Preservation News Roundup: August 2019

This month’s Landmarks Illinois news roundup features the announcement of our 2019 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award recipients, updated on our advocacy efforts in Oak Park and Bloomington and new of the state moving forward with the sale of the James R. Thompson Center. Read the monthly newsletter for all this and more update on what LI has been up to in August!

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The Challenges with Saving Religious-Owned, Historic Places

August 27, 2019

Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera discusses the ongoing challenges associated with preserving historic structures owned by religious groups. Focusing on the recent demolition of the Chancery in Rockford, included on LI’s 2019 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, Lisa examines successes and losses in Chicago and beyond of convincing religious entities to sell and reuse their historic structures rather than tear them down. This article was originally published in Landmarks Illinois’ August 2019 edition of The Arch newsletter. (Photo: An aerial shot shows demolition of the Chancery in Rockford in June. Courtesy: Don Bissell)

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Preservation News Roundup: July 2019

July 31, 2019

The monthly Landmarks Illinois News Roundup fills you in on the top preservation news stories from the month as well as LI’s main advocacy efforts, projects and announcements. This month, we share information on ongoing advocacy efforts to preserve historically significant properties in Oak Park, updates on Harley Clarke in Evanston, news on our recent grant recipients and more!

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Take our survey!

July 16, 2019

In 2021, Landmarks Illinois will mark its 50th Anniversary as an organization dedicated to helping people save places across the state. To prepare for this milestone anniversary, we are asking our supporters and member, new and old, to tell us how our work has impacted them and why they continue to be a part of “People Saving places.” Please take our 2-minute survey to tell us!

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Preservation News Roundup: June 2019

July 1, 2019

Catch up on LI’s biggest advocacy efforts and the latest preservation news by reading our June 2019 monthly Preservation News Roundup. This edition includes updates for the Harley Clarke Mansion in Evanston and Booth Cottage in Glencoe, as well as LI’s efforts to help save a school in Paxton and aid owners of the historic Millstadt Milling & Feed Co. in Millstadt, Illinois. (Photo: The City of Evanston’s special webpage dedicated to the Harley Clarke RFP.)

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JUNE 5, 2019

Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE) is a global firm of engineers, architects and materials scientists committed to helping its clients solve, repair and avoid problems in the built world. WJE generously supports Landmarks Illinois at the Visionary Corporate Sponsor level. We interviewed LI Board Member Joshua Freedland, a WJE principal, about why his firm supports our work.

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Preservation News Roundup: MAY 2019

Catch up on the biggest preservation news of May 2019. It was a busy month for Landmarks Illinois: We released our 2019 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, announced exciting news about the future of the Ebony Test Kitchen and continued our advocacy efforts in Rock Island and Rockford. The National Trust for Historic Preservation also included the James R. Thompson Center on its 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in the country, a building that LI has included three years in a row to its own Most Endangered list.

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Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced its 2019 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, and among the sites included on the annual list is the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Landmarks Illinois named the Post Modern building designed by Helmut Jahn in 1985 to its Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois three times since 2017 due the continues threat it faces. Learn how you can help us preserve this architectural icon and participate in our social media campaign!

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may 28, 2019

Every year since 1995, Landmarks Illinois has issued its “Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois” – a statewide list that helps people working to save significant historic places under threat. Known as the “Ten Most Endangered” until 2015, the list has been the most prominent advocacy program of Landmarks Illinois for the last two-and-a-half decades. In this article, which originally appeared in LI’s May 2019 edition of our quarterly print newsletter, The Arch, we reflect back on the last 25 years of the Most Endangered program, sharing success stories and lessons learned.

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Advocacy Alert: Demo Application Filed for Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Glencoe Home

May 22, 2019

The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Booth Cottage in Glencoe, an LI 2019 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois site, faces demolition as the new home owners have filed a demolition permit application with the Village. Landmarks Illinois is working with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and local advocates in Glencoe to find a preservation solution for this architecturally significant home.

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Catch up on the latest preservation news with LI’s monthly news roundup for April 2019. This month, we highlight proposed changes to the National Register of Historic Places, the possible sale of the James R. Thompson Center and provide an update on our ongoing lawsuit to stop the unlawful demolition of the historic Rock Island County Courthouse. (Pictured: The Macomb Courthouse Square National Register District.)

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Put Down the Blowtorch: Some tips for preventing fires in historic structures

April 16, 2019

In light of the tragic fire at Notre Dame in Paris this week, Landmarks Illinois is sharing a 2006 article authored by former LI President Jim Peters on the dangers of fire in historic buildings, especially during and after rehabilitation. Peters discusses how welding and cutting operations, plumbing torches, tar kettles, temporary heating equipment and wiring can serve as ignition sources in buildings under renovations.

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Mid-Century Modern Fans: Two, Unique Edward Dart Homes for Sale in Suburbs Need Caring New Owners

April 9, 2019

Two significant homes built in 1962 and designed by prolific Chicago architect Edward Dart are currently for sale in Chicago suburbs: the Charles Wegner House in Oak Brook and the Richard Henrich House in Barrington Hills. Both need sensitive buyers who will appreciate and celebrate their unique designs. Landmarks Illinois, which has long advocated for mid-century modern homes in Chicagoland, hope to bring attention to these homes to help find new owners who will properly care for them, just as their current owners have. (Photo: Wegner House circa 1963. Courtesy Charles Wegner)

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April 2, 2019

Landmarks Illinois recently spoke with former Ebony Food Editors Charlotte Lyons and Charla Draper, who each spent time cooking in the iconic former Ebony Test Kitchen in the Johnson Publishing Company Building in Chicago. In 2018, Landmarks Illinois removed the test kitchen from the Chicago landmarked building on South Michigan Avenue and took ownership of it to ensure it was preserved. Landmarks Illinois is now seeking a new owner who will reassemble the kitchen for educational use or public display. Read about the experiences Lyons and Draper had in the unique kitchen. (Photo: Charlotte Lyons in the Ebony Test Kitchen, featured in the November 1992 edition of Ebony Magazine. Provided by Charlotte Lyons.)

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LI’s monthly news roundup for March 2019. Top preservation stories include the effort to landmark the Chancery Building in Rockford, LI’s ongoing lawsuit to prevent unlawful demolition of the Rock Island County Courthouse and our efforts to help find a reuse for the Old Kendall County Jail in Yorkville, a former LI Most Endangered site.

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MARCH 6, 2019

Landmarks Illinois issued a statement following a hearing in Peoria regarding its lawsuit filed in Rock Island County to stop unlawful demolition of the county’s historic courthouse.

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Suzanne Germann has worked at Landmarks Illinois for nearly 15 years, first brought on staff to oversee the organization’s existing preservation easements. Over her decade and a half at LI, Suzanne has taken on a number of additional responsibilities, from significantly expanding LI’s grant funding to managing programs that have become pivotal for the organization. In this interview, which originally appeared in the February 2019 edition of LI’s print newsletter, The Arch, Suzanne tells us about her work and how she helps people save places in Illinois.

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Read about the top preservation stories of February 2019, including Landmarks Illinois’ lawsuit in Rock Island to stop the unlawful demolition of the historic courthouse, the release of a new short video on the Underground Railroad and LI’s effort to find a new owner of the iconic Ebony Test Kitchen from the former Johnson Publishing Company Building in Chicago.

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MEET: Barbara Donnelley

February 25, 2019

The Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund for Illinois provides monetary assistance to preserve or protect significant structures and sites in Illinois, a grant program that was transferred to Landmarks Illinois in 2013. Barbara “Barbi” Donnelley and her long-time colleague Gerald W. Adelmann, President & CEO of Openlands, head the advisory committee for this endowed fund. Landmarks Illinois recently sat down with Barbi for an interview.

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February 20, 2019

Catalina Parra, a fourth-year University of Chicago student, directed Landmarks Illinois’ recently released short video, “People Saving Places: The Underground Railroad in Illinois.” The video focuses on three specific and documented Underground Railroad Sites in the state: the Owen Lovejoy Homestead in Princeton, the Sheldon Peck Homestead in Lombard and Quinn Chapel AME Church in Chicago. Parra is a Fundamentals Major at U of C, which is a cross-disciplinary program designed for the individual student to study fundamental works that speak to questions of human existence. Landmarks Illinois asked Parra about her experience making this short video, what she learned about historic preservation and what’s in store for her next.

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February 11, 2019

Landmarks Illinois sent all Chicago mayoral candidates a survey to better understand their stances on historic preservation-related topics. Of the candidates currently running for Chicago Mayor, four returned survey responses: Amara Enyia, La Shawn Ford, Gary McCarthy and Paul Vallas. Landmarks Illinois compiled their survey responses in the following post.

Read the Survey

Advocacy Alert: Historic Properties Threatened in Highland Park, La Grange and Oak Park

February 8, 2019

Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera writes about updates to three suburban historic properties currently threatened. Public meetings are taking place on each property next week, and LI asks residents of each suburb to attend the meetings and/or reach out to their public officials regarding the threats facing these historic sites. Learn how you can help. (Photo: Hill Motor Sales Company Building in Oak Park. Credit: Norma Rios)

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February 8, 2019

Landmarks Illinois recently received the 2018 President’s Award from AIA Illinois for its efforts in helping to pass legislation to create a new statewide historic preservation tax credit. Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald received the award on behalf of the organization at the AIA Service Awards Ceremony February 4, 2019, at the Chicago Architecture Center.

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From the President: February 2019


February 4, 2019

LI President & CEO Bonnie McDonald takes a look at the organization’s Strategic Plan, launched in 2016, and assesses how LI has met many of the goals it set out to achieve. Now at the halfway mark of the five-year plan, read about where we have succeeded so far and how we are continuing to work to achieve our objectives and better serve the people of Illinois.

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Preservation News Roundup: January 2019

Read about the top preservation stories of January 2019, including Landmarks Illinois’ major advocacy effort in Rock Island to save the historic courthouse. Other stories of focus this month include LI winning a AIA Illinois Service Award, announcing our 2019 Legendary Landmarks and the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office releasing the 2019 schedule for the new Illinois Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program.

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Top Preservation News of 2018

Landmarks Illinois’ news roundup of the top preservation stories of the year. Read about LI’s major advocacy efforts around the state and the large-scale preservation projects that made headlines in 2018. Top stories include the Harley Clarke House in Evanston, Cook County Hospital in Chicago and the ongoing fight to save the Rock Island County Courthouse.

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Preservation News Roundup: November 2018

Stay up to date with the latest preservation news from November. This month, we share updates on the Harley Clarke House in Evanston, the James R. Thompson Center and Uptown Theatre in Chicago and the Rock Island County Courthouse.

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Preservation News Roundup: October 2018

Read about some of the biggest Illinois preservation news stories for the month of October 2018 and learn about important updates on Landmarks Illinois’ major advocacy efforts.

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October 29, 2018

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP won an honor award from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects for an adaptive reuse design study of the Elgin Laundry Building. In 2016, LI commissioned the study for this unique accordion-shaped facility, designed by Bertrand Goldberg, to provide reuse options for the City of Elgin. The1967 building, formerly part of the Elgin Mental Health Hospital grounds, was acquired by the city to expand its recreational facilities.

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Beer in Old Buildings: Chicago Craft Breweries Transform Historic Spaces into Unique Taprooms

September 7, 2018

Landmarks Illinois launched a new series, “Beer in Old Buildings,” focused on craft breweries located in rehabilitated historic structures. Our first installment of this series, which focuses on Chicago breweries in historic buildings, was featured in our August 2018 edition of The Arch newsletter.

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Meet Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth

August 24, 2018

For LI’s August 2018 edition of our quarterly, print newsletter, “The Arch,” we spoke with State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth about her success in passing legislation earlier this year to create a new, statewide historic preservation tax credit. In the interview, Rep. Gordon-Booth reflects on the impact the River Edge Redevelopment Zone tax credit has had on her district and why it is important to continue to preserve historic places in Illinois.

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Harley Clarke House in Evanston

Read updates about the Harley Clarke House in Evanston, which Landmarks Illinois is helping to advocate to save. LI listed the mansion on our 2016 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. (Photo credit: Carl Klein)

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Chicago Junior High Student Creates Nationally Recognized Documentary on Richard Nickel

Thirteen-year-old Emmett Schumacher, a student at Skinner West in Chicago, participated in the 2017 Chicago Metro History Fair as a seventh grader, creating a documentary focusing on historic preservationist Richard Nickel’s efforts in Chicago to save Adler & Sullivan-designed buildings. Emmett’s impressive, 10-minute documentary titled “Richard Nickel: Architectural Preservationist,” was one of two documentaries made by Illinois students to advance to National History Day, held at the University of Maryland in June. Now an eighth grader, Emmett recently talked with Landmarks Illinois about his documentary.

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North Shore School District 112 now participates in tax assessment freeze program

January 31, 2018

North Shore School District 112 (NSSD112) has opted to participate in the tax assessment freeze program. The decision gives the Lake County Clerk the ability to process requests that maintain the owner’s property tax assessment for 8-years after a qualified rehabilitation, lowering the financial commitment necessary to preserve a historic home. The policy change for NSSD 112 follows a similar action taken earlier this year by Township High School District 113, which filed exemption requests in 2015 and 2016. The recent decisions by Districts 112 and 113 put the institutions in the majority of taxing districts in the state. Read the NSSD112 press release on the news below.

(pictured: NSSD112 CFO Chris Wildman and District 113 Asst. Supt. for Finance Ali Mehanti join Landmarks Illinois officials and local community leaders in front of the Mary W. Adams House in Highland Park designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905.)

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PastForward 2017 Videos

Videos from the National Trust For Historic Preservation’s PastForward 2017 Conference in Chicago are now online. Check out the National Trust’s YouTube channel below to watch TrustLive sessions, keynote speakers and other highlights from the annual conference. LI President & CEO Bonnie McDonald participated in the TrustLive: Health session and panel discussion, which is one of the videos featured on the YouTube page. You can also see her welcoming conference guests at the Opening Plenary.

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Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program Now Available for Historic Homes in District 113

Township High School District 113 in Chicago’s north suburbs decided earlier this month to allow owners of historic homes within the district to use an important tax incentive to rehabilitate their property.

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City Approves Landmark Status for Uptown District


On Dec. 14, 2016, the Chicago City Council approved official landmark status for the Uptown Square District on Chicago’s North Side – something Landmarks Illinois has advocated for for 15 years.

(Photo: The historic and popular Green Mill is one of the buildings protected by the City’s landmark status)

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Springfield’s YWCA Building Set to Be Demolished

The historic YWCA building in Springfield is set to be torn down. At its Dec. 6 meeting, the Springfield City Council voted unanimously to move forward with demolishing the building, voting 10-0 to overturn a recommendation by the city’s Historic Sites Commission to reject the demolition permit for the building. Landmarks Illinois considers the future demolition of the YWCA building – a designated historic landmark – a major loss to the city of Springfield, its historic district and local heritage tourism. Read our full statement on the news.

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River Edge Historic Tax Credit Extended

A bill to extend Illinois pilot State Historic Tax Credit has passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly as of Dec. 1, 2016, and is on its way to Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk for his signature. Here, President & CEO of Landmarks Illinois Bonnie McDonald shares our thoughts on the good news.

(Photo credit: River Edge Historic Tax Credit)

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Mid-Century Modern Home in Old Town Faces Demo Threat

On Dec. 1, 2016, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted to deny the demolition of a mid-century modern home in the historic Old Town Triangle District, located at 1638 North Sedgwick St. The owners of the home have applied for a permit to demo the house.

(Photo Credit: Google)

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Is the Federal Historic Tax Credit at Risk? Possibly.

On June 24th, 2016, the Republican tax reform task force in the U.S. House of Representatives released a proposal for tax reform that could threaten the Federal Historic Tax Credit program, as the focus is to eliminate millions of dollars in tax credits and deductions.

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Preservation Efforts for Queen Anne-Style Edwards House Move Forward

The 2015 demolition of the 117-year old historically significant Queen Anne Edwards House in Downers Grove led to the formation of Friends of the Edwards House a volunteer advocacy group whose efforts brought about a simplified Historic Preservation Ordinance in Downers Grove.

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Condition Assessment of Greenstone Church in Pullman

Landmarks Illinois facilitated a pro bono condition assessment, provided by Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE), of the historic Greenstone Church (S.S. Beman architect) in the Pullman Historic District. The district is now a designated National Monument.

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Cook County Hospital Rehab Planned

A redevelopment plan for Old Cook County Hospital was approved in May 2016 by the Cook County Board, which will allow MB Real Estate Services to invest $600 million in the historic building and reuse it for hotel, apartments and retail. The developer will pay $2 million in annual rent to the county under a 99-year lease and make use of federal historic tax credits to help finance the rehabilitation.

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Interview with Board Member Shelley Gorson

Board member Shelley Gorson is one of nine board members reaching their “sunset year” in June; that is, a mandatory year off from board service between six-year terms. In her 13 years as a volunteer, Shelley has served as a board member, event, committee, and board chair, and organizational visionary. We sat down with her to ask her about her experience.

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Judge Taylor House Rehab

A transformation is taking place on Springfield’s east side. The Springfield Project, a neighborhood-based organization, recently completed the first phase of repairs to the pre-Civil War era Judge Taylor House for a future community center.

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Losing Chicago’s Modern & Post-Modern Heritage

As Chicago hosted the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, news and opinions about the future demolition of buildings by some of Chicago’s greatest architects – Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn – was announced and opined.

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