Landmarks Illinois 50th Anniversary

Landmarks Illinois commemorates its 50th anniversary in 2021. We are treating this moment as an opportunity: Rather than look back, our mandate is to move forward to ensure we are relevant for the next 50 years.

Landmarks Illinois’ bold vision and leadership will bring meaningful and needed change to the preservation movement. This self-reflective, justice-based reckoning will hone preservation into a better solution for society’s pervasive problems, such as inequity, housing and employment insecurity and climate change impacts. The result will support our diverse nation in protecting and celebrating historic places of individual and community identity, sharing underrepresented stories and being a part of our nation’s needed healing process.

(Pictured: Preservation protestors in the 1970s (left) and in the mid-1990s (right) in Chicago.)


Landmarks Illinois has been proactive in our approach to this undertaking. In 2017, we adopted our institutional values:

  • Innovation: We are at the forefront of the historic preservation field with inventive ideas and solutions that better help people to save the places of the past that matter to them.
  • Education: We seek and freely share knowledge that furthers our mission and vision.
  • Stewardship: We seek to inspire others to believe, as we do, that preservation is progress and that by reusing places of the past we conserve irreplaceable cultural resources for people today and into the future.
  • Empowering People & Improving Lives: We seek to be inclusive and equitable in our work to inspire people to save places for people, to help them succeed, to grow our movement and to improve the quality of life in the communities that we serve.

    (Pictured: Landmarks Illinois’ Skyline Council-led heartbombings in 2018 at Donda’s House in South Shore, Chicago, & in 2019 at the Harley Clarke Mansion in Evanston)


    Since then, we continued to examine our work and ensure we are continuing to help people save places for people. Understanding the perceptions of preservation and reality of our work was a critical step in our process. In 2019, we formed the 50th Anniversary Task Force. We curated a group of 34 individuals from across the state representing the diversity of Illinois’ preservation movement, including different skill sets, geographies, genders, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and age.

    The 50th Anniversary Task Force met monthly until March 2021 and discussed what practices to retain, which needed repair and identified new methods to ensure preservation is just, equitable, inclusive, diverse and accessible. We also wanted to make sure our work was helping to fight climate change and providing supportive and affordable housing.

    The 50th Anniversary Task Force’s outcome was a set of Guiding Principles to act as Landmarks Illinois’ code of conduct in implementing its values and defining its vision for the next 50 years of preservation. Between 2021 and 2023, we will move forward with projects in four areas:

    • Communications and community engagement;
    • Using justice, equity, inclusion, diversity and accessibility as the lens through which we evaluate our work;
    • Strategic planning; and, creation of a new brand identity that articulates our vision.
    • Read more about the next phases of our work and making a gift to support our vision here.

    (Pictured: Working to preserve a building in the Tri-Taylor Chicago neighborhood in the 1980s (left) and volunteers conducting a building assessment on the Amasa White House in Geneva in 2018(right))


    In addition to the 50th Anniversary Task Force, Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald interviewed people connected to preservation across the nation to explore preservation’s relevance in their communities and best practices around needed change in the field. These interviews helped Landmarks Illinois form its Guiding Principles and they will inform our forthcoming strategic planning process.

    Travel expenses for the first group of interviews was supported by a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation Peter H. Brink Mentoring Fund. Bonnie has since completed 130 interviews and is beginning to compile the results in a series of blog posts to be published on Landmarks Illinois’ website. She was awarded one of the 2020 James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation Mid-Career Fellowships to complete the interviews and subsequent analysis to be published in late 2021 as a guidebook to relevance in the U.S. preservation movement. Bonnie’s blog posts will be published on the Landmarks Illinois Preservation News Blog.

    (Pictured: A church tour of All Stains Episcopal Church in the early 1980s (left) and members of the Landmarks Illinois staff in front of the same church before the 2017 Annual Meeting (right))


    If you haven’t already, stay in touch with our 50th anniversary work by signing up for our e-blasts and follow us on social media:

    For information about Landmarks Illinois 50-year history, please watch our videos from the 50Forward anniversary event.

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