July 2023 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.

Chicago's Roberts Temple part of new Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument

On July 25, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation creating the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, which consists of three different sites across Illinois and Mississippi. Among them is Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago, 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. Roberts Temple, located at 4021 S. State St., was originally a one-story structure, with a second story added in 1927. President Biden’s proclamation immediately makes Roberts Temple a National Park Service site.

Landmarks Illinois celebrates the Biden Administration’s new proclamation, which grants Roberts Temple permanent protection. Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald spoke in support of making the church a national monument and historic site in October at a public meeting attended by Interior Secretary Deb Haalan. Read McDonald’s public comments here.

In 2021, Landmarks Illinois’ Skyline Council also hosted a heart bombing event at Roberts Temple and provided technical assistance for the church’s restoration efforts. Landmarks Illinois also collaborated with Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ’s congregation, the Mamie Till-Mobley Memorial Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help assess the condition of the property, determine priority of repairs and develop a phased rehabilitation plan.

 (Photo credit: Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum)

read the proclamation

$1 million grant from Driehaus Foundation supports Landmarks Illinois' Reinvestment Program

Landmarks Illinois has received a $1 million grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation to help provide more and larger low-interest loans through its Reinvestment Program Loan Fund. The Reinvestment Program Loan Fund is the only low-interest loan program of its kind that specifically supports historic preservation in Illinois. The grant from the Driehaus Foundation will make it possible for Landmarks Illinois to exponentially increase its impactful lending work supporting community-led preservation projects and spark reinvestment in our historic places.

Read more in the news:

Driehaus Foundation awards $1M grant to Landmarks Illinois
Chicago Tribune, July 11 (PDF version of article)

Read more

Route 66 Experience celebrates Illinois' connection to the 'Mother Road'

Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski was in Springfield on July 26 to take part in the Lighting Ceremony of the Illinois State Fairgrounds Route 66 Experience. The interactive exhibit gives visitors a chance to walk through Illinois’ portion of the historic “Mother Road,” and features the newly developed Legends Neon Sign Park, a tribute to the Muffler Men along the Route, photos of historic Route 66 stops as well as current photos and information on current Route 66 stops.

The experience is an initiative led by the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, for which Adamowski serves as Board Chair, and Visit Springfield, the Department of Agriculture, Enjoy Illinois and Ace Sign Company. The Byway received $1.875 million for the Route 66 Experience, $500,000 of which came from the Illinois Office of Tourism, $500,000 from businesses and private donors (still actively raising this dollar amount) and $875,000 from Visit Springfield. Learn more about the exhibit and how to support it here.

Landmarks Illinois called attention to Illinois’ portion of Route 66 on its 2017 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. We have also joined with other partners to advocate for the designation of Route 66 as a National Historic Trail.

(Photo: Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski, Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Executive Director Casey Claypool, & Visit Springfield Director Scott Dahl.)

Learn more

Landmarks Illinois' RBIC hosts event at The Belden-Stratford in Lincoln Park

Landmarks Illinois’ Real Estate and Building Industries Council hosted a networking reception July 18 to celebrate the renovation and conversion of The Belden-Stratford, a 100-year-old landmark in Lincoln Park with sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the former 650-room luxury hotel has been reimagined as a luxury apartment community featuring interior historic elements. Landmarks Illinois thanks our sponsors, who made the event possible, and Waterton and RentLife for leading the tours of the property.

(Pictured: Landmarks Illinois Director of Reinvestment Suzanne Germann, Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski and Chief Operating Officer Frank Butterfield, enjoy the event’s signature cocktails inside the restored lobby of The Belden-Stratford. Credit: Maceo Bedar.)

See Photos from the event

Help us save Dr. Percy Julian's historic Oak Park house

Dr. Percy Julian, the grandson of enslaved people, faced many racial barriers and challenges to become a renowned chemist. His work continues to be celebrated today. Our Preservation Snapshots Lecture, held on July 19, focused on Dr. Julian’s life and legacy and brought attention to the preservation campaign surrounding his former Oak Park Home, which sits within the Frank Lloyd Wright–Prairie School of Architecture Historic District.

Watch the lecture, “Dr. Percy Julian, An American Story That is Home to Oak Park,” below.

Watch the lecture

Landmarks Illinois provides comments on Secretary's Standards for historic places

On July 20, Landmarks Illinois submitted a letter to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the federal agency for historic preservation, regarding the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

First published in 1979, the Secretary’s Standards are widely used in the preservation field to guide the treatment of historic buildings and resources. Landmarks Illinois comments, submitted in response to a call for comments from the Advisory Council, focused on making the Secretary’s Standards more responsive to pressing concerns like renewable energy, accessibility and housing.

(Photo: Masonry repairs are made at Old Cook County Hospital in 2019. Credit: Walsh Construction.)

Read LI's comments

Most Endangered Historic Places Updates

Alexander Brothers Blacksmith Shop

GENEVA – Listed 2023 & 2018

Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen attended the July 18 meeting of the Geneva Historic Preservation Commission to make a public statement in opposition to an application to de-designate the historic former blacksmith shop a local landmark. The City of Geneva landmarked the historic property in 2018 after Landmarks Illinois initially called attention to it on our Most Endangered list. The property’s current owner is asking the city to remove landmark protection so it can demolish the building. Read Parzen’s statement below.

Rearn more

Oak Cottage

NAPERVILLE – Listed 2023

Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen joined partner organization Naperville Preservation on July 11 calling on the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Board of Commissioners to take swift action to preserve the historic Oak Cottage and find a reuse solution for the 173-year-old former farmstead. Read Landmarks Illinois’ comments below.

Read more

Century & Consumers Buildings

CHICAGO – Listed 2023

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which also called attention to the iconic Chicago skyscrapers this year on its 2023 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, is asking for members of the public to help urge the General Services Administration not to demolish the buildings that stand prominently on State Street in Chicago’s Loop.

Read more

Scott Foresman Headquarters

GLENVIEW – Listed 2021

Chicago-based Core Spaces, which proposed demolishing the architecturally significant former Scott Foresman property in Glenview to build a new residential development, has withdrawn its application with the city. Designed by Perkins & Will and built in 1966, the former textbook company headquarters has been vacant since June 2020. Landmarks Illinois has continued to call for the reuse, rather than demolition, of the site since including it on our Most Endangered list in 2021.


Read more

Will County Courthouse

JOLIET – Listed 2022

The Will County Board has called for a special meeting on August 17 to discuss a non-binding resolution calling for the full exploration of reuse options for the former Will County Courthouse, built in 1969. The move comes a month after the Will County officials announced they intend to demolish the architecturally significant courthouse to make way for a new government mega-complex, which it would build in partnership with the City of Joliet.

Earlier this year, Landmarks Illinois issued an exploratory Request for Expressions of Interest in potential reuse scenarios for the courthouse. Six firms responded. See the responses here. Joliet is also now part of the River Edge Redevelopment Zone, making it possible for the potential reuse of the courthouse to receive tax credits through the River Edge Historic Tax Credit Program.

Learn more

Bresee Tower

DANVILLE – Listed 2012

A judge has granted an order calling for the demolition of Bresee Tower. The community’s most prominent landmark, built in 1918, has sat vacant for more than a decade and recent efforts to find a developer interested in reusing the building were unsuccessful. The current owners of the building did not appear in court, leading the judge to give the City of Danville permission to tear down the 12-story building.

Learn more

Additional Landmarks Illinois preservation news

  • In honor of what would have been Emmett Till’s 82nd birthday on July 25, Blacks in Green broke ground on the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley House project on Sunday, July 23 in Chicago’s West Woodlawn community. Blacks in Green Founder & CEO Naomi Davis was on hand to greet community members, volunteers, donors and partners, to celebrate the recent art installation by Germaine Barnes and to share how the project is part of B.I.G.’s Sustainable Square Mile program. Landmarks Illinois’ staff and volunteers attended in celebration and support. See pictures here.
  • Landmarks Illinois joined handfuls of organizations, companies and advocates, including Board Members Gary Anderson and Ron Clewer, in voicing support for the redevelopment project proposed at the former Barber-Colman factory in Rockford. Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski submitted a letter of support for the proposed project that would transform the long-vacant 20-acre industrial site into a mixed-use area with residential, commercial and retail space.
  • Block Club Chicago shared the inspiring story of Logan Square preservation advocates Andrew Schneider and neighbor David Berkey donating a preservation easement to Landmarks Illinois on their iconic Logan Boulevard property. The Jefferson Ice House, located at 3024 W. Logan Boulevard, and its side yard are now protected under Landmarks Illinois’ easement. Read the story here.

Read the full July 2023 Preservation News Roundup:

July 2023 Preservation news

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