City of Aurora - Victory Statue on the New York Memorial Bridge, Aurora

Grant Amount: $5,000

Aurora’s New York Street Bridge, constructed in 1931 and spanning the Fox River, is dedicated as a tribute to the brave soldiers who fought in World War I. The bridge features six ornamental elements—four hooded “Memory” sculptures, a statue celebrating “Victory,” and the Branches of Service Plaque, a large bronze relief representing the three branches of the armed services at the time of WWI. At the center of the bridge there are two outlooks with bronze and limestone memorials. On the north side stands a 12-foot bronze statue of the Messenger Goddess Victory on top of a 10-foot limestone base. Aurora will use the LI grant funding to restore the Victory statue.

The City of Aurora has used another WWI Monument Preservation grant to restore one of the Memory sculptures and it has restored the Branches of Service Plaque on the south side of the bridge as part of an overall restoration of the memorial bridge.

Blue Island Park District - Studebaker Field Gun, Blue Island

Grant Amount: $4,400

The monument features a plaque and a 1909 M1906 Studebaker field gun that sits on a circular, raised concrete slab surrounded by a wrought iron fence. The M1906 was one of very few pre-war U.S. artillery designs selected for wartime production in World War I, and this particular example is one of only 19 documented guns that survived the scrap metal drives of WWII and are currently on display. It was donated to the Blue Island Park District by the Rock Island Arsenal in 1922 for the dedication of Memorial Park.

The gun and the carriage are in good condition, but the reproduction wooden wheels have been removed due to deterioration. The carriage and gun currently sit, still assembled, on temporary steel stands. With the wheels removed, the next step is to fabricate replacements, install them and remove the temporary supports. The new wheels will be identical to what was originally produced for this piece of military equipment.

Bronzeville Community Development Partnership - George L. Giles Post #87, Chicago

Grant Amount:$7,500

This 100-year-old building, located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, formerly housed a carriage company and was converted into the American Legion Post in 1919 following World War l in honor of Lt. George L. Giles. The Eighth Illinois National Guard Regiment, which during the Great War came to be known as the 370th U.S. Infantry was the only regiment in the U.S. Army that was called into service with almost a complete complement of colored officers from the highest rank of Colonel to the lowest rank of Corporal. The Post was commissioned and operated by former post commander Earl B. Dickerson (former Chicago Alderman and first African American to receive a Doctorate of Law Degree from the University of Chicago in 1920 and Second Lt. in WWI). Dickerson attended the initial Paris Caucus that lead to the Formation of The American Legion.

The George Giles Post has begun plans and fundraising efforts to recognize the Post #87 as a monument to the African American Veterans of WWI. The plan will landscape the exterior grounds with fencing, paved parking lot, restoration of Flags Mount Area (was originally on roof of building) including an adjacent side lot that would become an outdoor memorial garden to Earl B. Dickerson.

Dan Ryan Woods Gold Star Mothers Memorial NFP - Gold Star Mothers Memorial, Chicago

Grant Amount:$10,000

This historical marker on the corner of 87th and Western Avenue in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side is a monument in remembrance of the soldiers lost in World War One and the families they left behind. An effort by the Cook County Forest Preserve to clear brush and remove invasive species of plants led to the discovery of the monument in the Dan Ryan Woods. The monument was not visible from the street or park even though it was just several yards from a very busy intersection.

The monument was found in critical condition and required immediate stabilization. A group of concerned citizens organized to remove the monument from the site and put it in storage until the funds can be found for restoration. Extensive research has been done to determine the original appearance of the rubble stone monument including the text of the missing plaque. The plan includes recreation of the plaque, restoration of the stone monument and relocation near the visitors’ center in the Dan Ryan Woods of the Cook County Forest Preserve.

First United Methodist Church of Oak Park - Memorial Tower, Oak Park

Grant Amount:$5,000

The Memorial Tower in the First United Methodist Church of Oak Park was planned by Church leadership, and by the architectural firm of Tallmadge and Watson and the associate architectural firm of Foltz and Brand, to be a significant structure and a lasting memorial to those members who served our country in World War I. Originally known as the First Methodist Episcopal Church, the former church building housed a Memorial Plaque naming the 106 men who served, and the five men who died, in World War I. When the former church building burned to the ground in 1923, even the plaque perished. A duplicate of the plaque was presented to the church by mothers of two of the men who died in service, but that plaque was eventually displayed elsewhere in the church building. Part of the restoration of the Memorial Tower’s entry includes relocating the Memorial Plaque inside the vestibule of the Memorial Tower itself, as a permanent reminder of the purpose for which the Memorial Tower was built.

Stabilization and repairs were made to the tower in 2012 and 2013. The congregation now intends to restore the entry way including the oak and lead glass doors and surrounds as part of this larger project to make necessary masonry repairs to the tower.

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