January 2024 Preservation News Roundup

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.

Landmarks Illinois' Op-Ed responds to demolition of former Will County Courthouse

Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald and Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski co-wrote an op-ed published this month in the Chicago Sun-Times about the wasteful demolition of the former Will County Courthouse.

Will County began tearing down the courthouse, a 2022 Most Endangered site, in December. In this opinion piece, McDonald and Adamowski reflect on Landmarks Illinois’ years-long efforts to show Will County officials how reusing the one-of-a-kind Brutalist building would have brought indisputable benefits to the community.

“In the end, the lesson is obvious: With a few exceptions, when those who control the levers of power want to tear something down, they tear it down,” our op-ed states. “Even when the evidence overwhelmingly suggests the reasoning is flawed and that redevelopment is the best option.”

Read the op-ed

You helped us raise more than $60K to save places in Illinois!

Thank you to everyone who donated to our 2023 Year-End Appeal! Thanks to a generous matching challenge gift from Anne Voshel through the Van Dam Charitable Foundation, we were able to raise more than $60,000, which goes directly to our work helping people across Illinois save the places that matter to their communities.

What can we do with $60,000?

  • Cover the cost of advocacy program needs, including for our annual Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois and travel expenses for Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski who meets with advocates across the state to provide resources and expertise to local preservation efforts.

Thank you again for your generous support! We thank Anne Voshel — a dedicated Landmarks Illinois member for over 30 years serving on the former President’s Committee, Board of Directors and the Emeritus Board — for encouraging others to give through this challenge.

Miss your chance to donate? It’s not too late!

Donate today!

Latest edition of The Arch is out!

Read the January 2024 edition at our website!

The Arch is Landmarks Illinois’ biannual publication, which offers in-depth yet accessible articles on preservation topics, advocacy efforts, upcoming events and interviews with leaders in the field.

In this edition, we feature a 20-year effort to document historic Mesker buildings in Illinois, give a look at The Relevancy Guidebook published by Landmarks Illinois in December and pay tribute to David Bahlman, Landmarks Illinois’ former President.

Read all editions of The Arch at our website.

Read The Arch

Preserving the remaining Mesker buildings in Illinois

“Mesker” buildings feature facades made of galvanized steel and cast iron produced by the Mesker Brothers Iron Works of St. Louis, Missouri, and the George L. Mesker & Company of Evansville, Indiana. At one time, Illinois had more than 6,500 of these iconic Main Street buildings. Finding out where these Meskers were built and how many still stand today has been a nearly two-decade-long quest led by Darius Bryjka, a Project Reviewer at the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Read our feature story on Bryjka’s diligent endeavor to document Illinois’ “Meskers.”

Read more

Next City op-ed highlights the 'The Relevancy Guidebook'

Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald published an op-ed in Next City this month highlighting her book, “The Relevancy Guidebook: How We Can Transform the Future of Preservation,” published by Landmarks Illinois last year. In the piece, McDonald argues why preservation must move beyond a “culture of preciousness” to be seen as relevant to people today and in the future.


Read the op-ed


McDonald also attended numerous events and conferences this month to promote “The Relevancy Guidebook” and its findings. On January 17, McDonald was a panelist at the Climate Action Museum’s program, “Is Historic Preservation a Barrier to Building Decarbonization?” McDonald joined Passive House Institute – United States (PHIUS) Co-Founder and Executive Director Katrin Klingenberg and moderator Doug Farr, Founder and Principal of Farr & Associates, for a conversation about the role historic places can play in climate change mitigation strategies. McDonald called upon data and examples from the “Fighting Climate Change Through Preservation” essay in “The Relevancy Guidebook.”

McDonald is also serving as the keynote speaker today at the 2024 Saving Places Conference in Boulder hosted by Colorado Preservation, Inc., the statewide preservation nonprofit organization. McDonald’s keynote focuses on transforming preservation practice to be relevant, just and accessible, ideas detailed in her book. McDonald was joined by fellow keynote speakers, Monica Rhodes and Ann Beha, FAIA, who are innovators and inspirational thinkers on preservation.

Download the “The Relevancy Guidebook” and its Executive Summary for free at the Landmarks Illinois website.

"The Relevancy Guidebook"

Evanston plans to issue RFP for Harley Clarke Mansion

On January 22, the Evanston City Council authorized city staff to issue a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Harley Clarke Mansion. The Harley Clarke RFP will follow an exploratory Request for Expressions of Interest (REI) for the adaptive use and rehabilitation of the historic property that was issued in 2023. The responses to the REI will inform the RFP parameters.

Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen gave a statement at the council meeting in support of moving forward with the RFP. Landmarks Illinois has been advocating for the reuse of the Harley Clarke Mansion since 2016 when it was included on our list of the Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Those interested in responding to the RFP should keep an eye on our communications for updates. Click below to read Parzen’s statement from the Evanston City Council Meeting.

Read LI's statement

Landmarks Illinois meets with owners of historic theater in Chicago's Little Village

Earlier this month, Landmarks Illinois Director of Reinvestment Suzanne Germann and Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen visited the historic Apollo’s 2000 Theater in the Little Village neighborhood. Germann and Parzen spoke with the theater’s owner, the Galindo family, to discuss how Landmarks Illinois can support their vision to designate the theater a Chicago Landmark. In December 2023, Parzen spoke at a Commission on Chicago Landmarks public meeting in support of designating the historic theater a Chicago Landmark.

Constructed in 1917 as the Marshall Square Theatre, the Beaux-Arts building is a rare remaining example of a transitional early twentieth-century movie theater in Chicago. Its beautifully ornamented exterior and interior spaces communicate its historic and architectural worth. In addition to the architectural significance, Parzen stated, the theater, “is also equally deserving of recognition for its more recent history as a venue for Latin music and other programming tailored to the Latino community in Little Village.”

Read Parzen’s full statement below.

Read the statement

Upcoming events

Skyline Council's Valentine's Day Event


10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Join the Skyline Council of Landmarks Illinois as it showers the historic Schlitz Tied House in Englewood with love ahead of Valentine’s Day! The annual family-friendly and free event helps bring attention to a historic site in need of preservation resources. The owner of the former tavern aims to transform the vacant Chicago Landmark into a community center. On Tuesday, January 30, the City of Chicago announced it would give a $250,000 grant through its Adopt-a-Landmark Fund to support the preservation project.

Free to attend!

Event details

LI & IMI Training Webinar


8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Landmarks Illinois and the International Masonry Institute (IMI) will host its annual Historic Preservation Education Event next month. This year, the free training webinar will focus on mortars for repointing historic masonry. View the full webinar program here.



Preservation Forward


5:30 p.m.

Our annual spring fundraiser at The Old Post Office in Chicago will celebrate the statewide efforts of Landmarks Illinois and honor our 2024 Landmarks Illinois Influencers:

  • Lisa Yun Lee, Executive Director, National Public Housing Museum
  • Juan Moreno, Project Design Principal, President & Founder, JGMA
  • Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, Chicago Historian & Co-Founder, Chicago Mahogany Foundation
  • HIRE360, Nonprofit Influencer Represented by Jay Rowell, Executive Director
  • Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation, Corporate Influencer Represented by Jackie Holsten, SVP & General Counsel, and Peter Holsten, President
Learn more & register

PRESERVATION SNAPSHOTS: The Underground Railroad and Freedom Seeking in the 19th Century, the Law Versus Morality


12 – 1 p.m.

Join us for a virtual lecture featuring Professor Gerald McWorter, a descendant of Free Frank McWorter. Known as “the Father of Freedom,” Frank McWorter bought his and his wife’s freedom in the early 1800s before moving his family to Illinois where he bought 80 acres of land and established the town of New Philadelphia, Illinois.


Learn more & register

Skyline Council hosts Trivia Night Jan. 16

Thank you to everyone who came out to participate in Skyline Council’s Trivia Night earlier this month at Great Central Brewing! Thank you to our night’s sponsors: LS Contracting Group, Inc.; Raths, Raths & Johnson, Inc.; and Bauer Latoza Studio.

Congratulations to the night’s winning teams!

  • First place: SGW Architecture & Design
  • Second place: Bauer Latoza Studio
  • Third place: SGH Architects

Check out photos from the event below!

Trivia Night Photos

Landmarks Illinois staff try glass blowing at Firebird Community Arts

Landmarks Illinois thanks Firebird Community Arts for hosting our staff outing on Friday, January 26. Staff members each got to make their own glass paperweight under the supervision and direction of Firebird teachers.

Firebird Community Arts empowers and connects people through the healing practice of glassblowing and ceramics. The nonprofit organization located in East Garfield Park serves those who have been impacted by structural or individual trauma, including violently injured youth, veterans, formerly incarcerated individuals, undocumented and immigrant populations and Chicago Public School students on the South and West Sides. The City of Chicago also announced this week it would award Firebird a $2.5 million Community Development Grant to build a new studio space.

Firebird also creates custom awards for our Landmarks Illinois Influencers honored at our Preservation Forward fundraising event.

Learn more about Firebird Community Arts

Read the full January 2024 Preservation News Roundup:

January 2024 Preservation News

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