2021 Donnelley Fund Grant Recipients

Announced December 2021

Nineteenth Century Charitable Association


Designed by local architect James L. Fyfe and opened in 1928, the Nineteenth Century Club is a two-and-a-half-story brown brick structure designed in the Neo-Classical style. It has been in continuous use since its construction by the Nineteenth Century Woman’s Club, now the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association (NCCA), and numerous other nonprofits.

Established in 1891, the Nineteenth Century Woman’s Club and its active membership used the clubhouse to broaden their community service and by extension the role of women in the civic sphere. The construction of the clubhouse was the culmination of a 20-year effort to build the club into a social and civic force to serve its members and the community.

The building is in generally good condition, as the owner has worked diligently to maintain the structure. Over the years, capital campaigns and multiple fundraising events have been held to raise the funds needed to repair and maintain the building. However, repairs frequently had to be deferred or done piecemeal due to lack of funds.

In preparing to repair the crumbling concrete around and under the four columns on the west side of the building, the owner discovered that the columns themselves had substantially deteriorated. An engineering study was conducted, focusing on the concrete. During this study, a section of one column was removed and the interior timber was found to be rotted, requiring not only repair of the concrete support but also potentially all four of the columns themselves, which date back to the initial construction in 1928. The Association will use the grant from Landmarks Illinois to assist with the architect fees associated with this work.

Learn More

Announced June 2021

New Philadelphia Association, Pike County


New Philadelphia was the first town platted and registered (1836) by a black man before the Civil War—Free Frank McWorter, who sold town lots to earn money to purchase children and grandchildren enslaved in Kentucky. It was also a documented stop on the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The town was dissolved around 1880 but the site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2009.

In 2015, the New Philadelphia Association worked with a game designer and professor to develop an augmented virtual reality trail for visitors. The program shares history, images and sounds of life in the former town. The association will use Landmarks Illinois’ grant funds to enhance the virtual reality program at the New Philadelphia site to include a question and answer feature.

Learn More

Announced January 2021

House of Prayer, 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.

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