The monthly Landmarks Illinois News Roundup keeps you in the loop on the latest preservation news stories from the month as well as Landmarks Illinois’ main advocacy efforts, projects and announcements. You can also receive these monthly news roundups directly in your inbox by signing up for our newsletters at the bottom of the page.
Preserving Richmond's historic wooden bridge
Earlier this month, Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski was in Richmond to continue to assist local efforts to save Richmond’s historic wooden bridge, included on the 2023 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.
Adamowski gave a presentation to the Richmond City Council on August 3 about the bridge and its historic significance. He also discussed potential funding sources for the city to pay for necessary repairs to the bridge and the collaborative partnership models the city can form to help develop a plan for its restoration.
The wooden bridge — built in the mid-19th century — is the last survivor of two bridges from Richmond’s frontier past, which connected the halves of the city bisected by the railway. The remaining bridge, a longstanding fixture in the community, is integral to Richmond’s identity. Due to lack of maintenance, however, the bridge is at risk of demolition by neglect. Local advocacy group, the W.A. McConnell Foundation, is working to preserve the bridge. Click below to learn more.
(Pictured: Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski on the Richmond Bridge, a 2023 Most Endangered site, with Allison Kessel Clark, VP of the W.A. McConnell Foundation)Learn more
Additional 2023 Most Endangered Historic Places Updates
Alexander Brothers Blacksmith Shop
On August 15, the Geneva Historic Preservation Commission unanimously denied an application to remove the landmark designation from the Alexander Blacksmith Shop. The building’s owner, the Shodeen Family Foundation, has applied for a permit to de-designate and demolish the historic limestone structure, arguing that reuse is not financially feasible. The owner could appeal the commission’s decision to the Geneva City Council. However, for now, Landmarks Illinois, which included the blacksmith shop on our 2023 Most Endangered list, celebrates this news out of Geneva.Read more
Landmarks Illinois joined community members and many other concerned organizations at a public meeting on August 22 about the Damen Silos hosted by the City of Chicago. Although the meeting focused on ensuring a safe demolition process, Landmarks Illinois and others also took the opportunity to voice opposition to the demolition. Additional public meetings regarding the future of the silos are expected in the future but are not yet scheduled.
The Damen Silos are one of the last remaining monuments to Chicago’s historic dominance in the national grain industry. Decisions about the future of the silos are extraordinarily significant for McKinley Park, a neighborhood in the midst of an ongoing struggle for environmental justice. Click below to learn the latest news on the silos.Read more
Roberts Temple in Bronzeville celebrates National Monument status
Landmarks Illinois joined community partners, elected officials and the National Park Service at Roberts Temple on August 1 to celebrate the unveiling of a temporary plaque designating the historic church on Chicago’s South Side a national monument. The event came a week after President Joe Biden signed a proclamation creating the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, which consists of Roberts Temple and two sites in Mississippi. The event featured brief comments from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and local, state and federal leaders.
Located at 4021 S. State St. in Chicago, Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ is where Emmett Till’s open casket funeral was held in 1955. Emmett Till was brutally murdered at 14 while visiting family in Mississippi. Mamie Till-Mobley’s courageous choice to show her son’s body is seen as a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement.
Landmarks Illinois celebrates the Biden Administration’s new proclamation, which grants Roberts Temple permanent protection. Landmarks Illinois has long been involved in preservation efforts at Roberts Temple.
(Pictured: Jack Tribbia of Berglund Construction; Landmarks Illinois Program Manager Leila Wills; Dr. Marvel McCain Parker, Executive Director of the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute; Juliana Glassco, HistoriCorps; Landmarks Illinois Chief Operating Officer Frank Butterfield, at Roberts Temple)Read more
Local landmarking, reuse options now under consideration for the former Will County Courthouse
August saw two new developments in the effort to save the former Will County Courthouse in Joliet: The Will County Board voted at a special meeting to have the county’s Executive Committee discuss potential reuse options and the Joliet Historic Preservation Commission voted to recommend local landmark designation for the 1969 Brutalist building.
Landmarks Illinois included the courthouse on its 2022 Most Endangered list due to an ongoing demolition threat for the vacant building. On August 17, the Will County Board had a special meeting for the purpose of discussing a resolution that calls for exploring the reuse of the architecturally significant courthouse. Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald spoke at the meeting, calling attention to the many benefits of preserving and reusing the courthouse. Read McDonald’s testimony here. The board passed the resolution with hopes the county’s Executive Committee will form an ad-hoc committee to evaluate reuse possibilities for the courthouse and the financial options available for such a preservation effort.
A week later, on August 23, the Joliet Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to recommend local landmark designation for the courthouse to the Joliet City Council. The City Council will now consider local landmarking at its next full meeting on September 19. A pre-council meeting takes place the night before, on September 18. Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski will speak publicly at both meetings to support landmarking the architecturally significant courthouse.
(Pictured: Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald speaks at the special Will County Board meeting on August 17.)Learn more
Landmarks Illinois welcomes new staff member!
Meet Lauren Dalton, Landmarks Illinois’ new Marketing & Communications Manager
Landmarks Illinois has welcomed its newest staff member! Lauren will lead marketing strategies and support ongoing communications to broaden the organization’s reach and impact. Learn more about Lauren at our staff webpage below.Learn more
St. Aldabert receives preliminary landmark status in Chicago
The Commission on Chicago Landmarks gave preliminary landmark status to St. Adalbert Church in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Landmarks Illinois staff attended the commission’s hearing on August 7 to support landmarking the historic church included on our 2016 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO, gave a public statement. Read it here.
Landmarks Illinois and partners at Preservation Chicago celebrated this positive development for the long-shuttered church. Another positive step toward preserving the church: A buyer has recently offered to purchase the more than 100-year-old building to turn it into an event space. Anew Holding LLC, a Miami-based developer, has the building under contract, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
(Pictured: St. Adalbert parishioner and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Dan Pogorzelski, Preservation Chicago staff members including Mary Lu Seidel, Ward Miller, Max Chavez and Adam Natenshon, and Landmarks Illinois’ Bonnie McDonald and Kendra Parzen.)Learn more
Save the date: October 27
Landmarks Illinois will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards on October 27 in Chicago. Mark your calendars for our “feel-good event of the year,” taking place at the Athenaeum Center for Thought & Culture in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Landmarks Illinois will announce the winners of the 2023 preservation awards and more details on the October ceremony next month. Stay tuned!
Landmarks Illinois aids effort to preserve Waller Apartments
Real estate reporter Dennis Rodkin of Crain’s Chicago Business contacted Landmarks Illinois this month about the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Waller Apartments in Chicago and a vacant unit for sale in the building. The owner had found it difficult to sell the unit, which is currently in a state of disrepair.
In the late 1990s, Landmarks Illinois purchased, rehabilitated and sold two of the rowhouses to preserve them as affordable units and ensure the building’s long-term stewardship. We are continually interested in ensuring safe and affordable housing at the Waller Apartments and have stepped in to assist along with our partners at the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, Preservation Chicago and the City of Chicago Historic Preservation Division. The group is putting a pro bono building condition assessment team together to tour the property with the seller’s agent, analyzing egress challenges and assessing potential purchase options. Landmarks Illinois Board Member Alex Wolking of Keller Williams ONEChicago also completed a market analysis of the property, which is a designated Chicago Landmark.
Click below to view the property sale listing if you are interested in purchasing this unique historic rowhouse.Learn more
Landmarks Illinois seeks fall intern
Preservation Easement Program intern
FALL 2023 – JUNE 2024
Landmarks Illinois is hiring an intern to work with the Director of Reinvestment on Landmarks Illinois’ easement program. Duties include assisting with overall program management and easement mailings, preparing for monthly meetings of the Preservation Easement Committee and communicating with property owners requesting alterations to their easement property. The internship is paid and takes place in our Chicago office. Click below to learn more about this and our other internships throughout the year.Learn more
Additional Landmarks Illinois preservation news
- The Village of Oak Park seeks a historic preservation architect to support a renovation evaluation for Oak Park Village Hall. Oak Park Village Hall, built in 1974, was designed by famed Chicago architect Harry Weese and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Responses to the RFQ are due September 14. Learn more. Additionally, Landmarks Illinois Chief Operating Officer Frank Butterfield spoke at a public meeting held at Unity Temple on August 29 in support of the preservation of Oak Park Village Hall.
- The Society of Architectural Historians has issued a call for architectural historians, historic architects, structural engineers, cultural monitors, archaeological monitors and other professionals working in this field to help with the aftermath of the Lahaina fires on Maui. Janet Six, Principal Archaeologist for the County of Maui, is compiling a database of professionals working in fields related to historic preservation who are qualified and willing to help with the Lahaina disaster once the area is deemed safe by FEMA. Learn more.
- A historic home in Hinsdale, on which Landmarks Illinois’ holds a preservation easement, is up for sale. Built in 1889, the home has a storied past: Its first owner was George Robbins, a son of the founder of Hinsdale. Additional owners included Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, founder of the Peabody Coal Company in Chicago, and Alexander Legge, who was tasked by President Herbert Hoover to head the Federal Farm Board in 1929. Hoover even visited the home and is believed to have signed autographs on the front porch. Current owners underwent an 18-month restoration process during their time in the home. Learn more.