FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2022
Landmarks Illinois’ Skyline Council & People for Community Recovery bring heart bomb event to Altgeld Gardens February 12
CHICAGO – The Skyline Council, Landmarks Illinois’ young and emerging professionals committee, will host its annual heart bombing event February 12 at two historic structures at Altgeld Gardens, the Shop Building and School Building C. The heart bombing, organized in partnership with People for Community Recovery (PCR), will shower the two buildings at the Chicago Housing Authority-owned complex on the city’s Far South Side with paper hearts and other public displays of affection ahead of Valentine’s Day.
The public is welcome to participate in the heart bombing event, which begins at 10 a.m. with a community craft-making activity at the Chicago Park District Carver Fieldhouse at 939 E. 132nd St. Donuts from Old Fashioned Donuts in Roseland and coffee and hot cocoa will be served. At 11 a.m., participants will walk together to the nearby Shop Building at 13122 S. Ellis Ave. and then School Building C at 839 E. 132nd St. to attach their hearts and artwork to the historic structures. Skyline Council members, representatives from PCR and all volunteers and community members will gather for group photos in front of the properties at 12 p.m.
“We are excited to once again host a heart bomb to join the community in rallying around a historic and culturally significant site deserving of our love and attention,” said Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO of Landmarks Illinois. “We hope local residents, preservation enthusiasts, community members or anyone interested in learning more about the history of Altgeld Gardens will join us for this impactful and relevant event during Black History Month.”
Visit our website to learn more about the heart bomb. Previous Landmarks Illinois and Skyline Council heart bombings have taken place at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville in 2021, the Harley Clarke House in Evanston in 2019 and Donda’s House in South Shore in 2018.
More information about the Heart Bombing
Landmarks Illinois included three historic structures at Altgeld Gardens, including the Shop Building and School Building C, on its 2021 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, which was announced last May. Since then, Landmarks Illinois has continued to advocate for reuse and investment of the structures at Altgeld Gardens and assisted PCR in its preservation efforts.
With the heart bombing, Skyline Council aims to bring attention to the historic significance of the Shop Building and School Building C, the need for their preservation and aid in the current effort to list Altgeld Gardens on the National Register of Historic Places. Skyline Council also plans to provide pro bono building condition assessments, building reuse renderings and additional services as needed to support PCR’s vision for preserving and reusing the Shop Building and School Building C at Altgeld Gardens.
“Skyline Council looks forward to the heart bomb every year, as it’s a fun, feel-good event that connects us with the community,” said Alyssa Frystak, Skyline Council Member & Chair of the Partnership Subcommittee. “It also gives Skyline Council the chance to build a relationship with our partner organization, understand their needs and apply our members’ diverse skill sets to aid in the eventual preservation of a historic site.”
Historic Significance of Altgeld Gardens, the Shop Building and School Building C
Altgeld Gardens was built between 1943 and 1945 for African-American servicemen returning from World War II and their families. Many of the residents in the 1940s worked at the industrial factories in the nearby Lake Calumet Region. The community became home to the environmental justice movement when Hazel Johnson started PCR in 1979 to bring attention to the mental and physical toll the nearby industrial area was having on Altgeld residents. Cheryl Johnson, Hazel’s daughter, leads PCR today where she continues to be a fierce advocate for affordable housing, environmental justice and economic equity.
“The hearts displayed at Altgeld Gardens this weekend will reflect the true love we have for the community,” said Johnson. “And love is what we need to help restore these buildings so they can once again become viable places that provide needed services to all of us who call Altgeld home.”
Known by Altgeld residents as the “Up Top,” the unique Midcentury Modern Shop Building was designed by prominent architects Keck and Keck and constructed in 1945. The privately owned commercial structure remains mostly vacant today, is in need of substantial rehabilitation and faces demolition by neglect without proper investment and reuse. The building also features the culturally significant Memorial Wall, which was created by residents in the early 1970s and displays the names of community members who have passed away due to pollution-related illnesses and violence.
School Building C was designed by John C. Christenson and built in 1944 as one of the original schools in the community. Owned by Chicago Public Schools, it served as Altgeld Garden’s high school until 1950. Today, it remains vacant, boarded up and is in severe deterioration after decades of neglect.
Outside investment is needed for both properties to ensure preservation. If Altgeld Gardens is listed on the National Register, potential developers who lead qualified rehabilitation projects at the buildings could benefit from federal and state historic tax credits.
About Landmarks Illinois
We are People Saving Places for People. Landmarks Illinois is a membership-based nonprofit organization serving the people of Illinois. We inspire and empower stakeholders to save places that matter to them by providing free guidance, practical and financial resources and access to strategic partnerships. For more information, visit www.Landmarks.org.
About Skyline Council
Skyline Council, founded in 2011, is Landmarks Illinois’ committee of young professionals. It consists of more than 30 emerging leaders with an interest in historic preservation, the built environment and sustaining healthy communities. Through service, social engagement and advocacy, Skyline Council members promote Landmarks Illinois’ mission to empower individuals to save places that are important to them while strengthening their networks.