Erica Ruggiero is a Historic Preservation Specialist/Architectural Historian at McGuire Igleski & Associates and serves as the Chair of Skyline Council’s Service Subcommittee. Learn more about Erica, how she became involved in Landmarks Illinois and why she is passionate about historic preservation. Erica is also leading a Preservation Snapshots Lecture this Thursday, May 23, on the council’s long-term service project to restore the historic Whitney Schoolhouse.
What is the best part of your job at McGuire Igleski & Associates?
The best part of my job is definitely having the opportunity to preserve some of the most significant and invaluable places in the region and being able to work with some of the most passionate and dedicated communities and individuals who are saving and sharing our nation’s history and identity.
When and why did you become involved with Landmarks Illinois and join the Skyline Council?
I became involved with Landmarks Illinois in 2013 through my internship with Landmarks Illinois working on the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards and Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. I chose to complete my internship with Landmarks Illinois because it works to preserve those sites and buildings significant to our cultural heritage and architectural legacy. The organization also works to preserve the authenticity, integrity and character of these places, while advocating for modern, viable uses.
Why is historic preservation important and what about it interests you?
For me, why I feel preservation is important and why it interests me are the same: Through preservation we can experience a tangible connection to our personal and our collective histories. Preservation provides an opportunity to reflect on our past and shape our values, beliefs and aspirations, defining our identity, while also planning for our future through a sustainable approach.
What is one thing about historic preservation you would tell another young professional to spark their interest?
I don’t believe there is really one thing to tell someone. I would probably show a young professional photographs of a building or place that I am working on and share its story.
What impact do you think young professionals like yourself will have on the future of historic preservation?
Young professionals are the future of the historic preservation movement. They will determine how the preservation movement progresses forward and how the world perceives preservation as a whole, as well as defining individual historic and cultural resources.
What do you do to support and advocate for preservation either in your professional or personal life? (or both!)
Outside of my job, I provide pro-bono and/or volunteer services for owners and properties that do not have the resources to hire a professional preservation consultant. Examples include: National Register nominations for The Forum and the Original East and Pershing Road Districts of the Central Manufacturing District. I am also the Programming Director for Chicago for Chicagoans, which advocates for preservation by sharing our love of history and knowledge with Chicagoans through our walking tours of Chicago’s neighborhoods and history lecture series. In 2019, I will be appointed to the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council, which works with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to recommend places in Illinois to the National Register of Historic Places and advises SHPO on matters pertaining to historic preservation.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time I garden as part of a community garden and on my back deck garden, as well as an indoor garden of about 30+ houseplants. I volunteer at Plant Chicago as part of the Auxiliary Board and the Packingtown Museum. I love hiking and camping in our National Parks and enjoy baking/cooking.
(Photo: Erica leading a tour for Chicago for Chicagoans in McKinley Park in April 2019. Credit: Lewis Purdy)