March 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.

Gemini Giant, a beloved Route 66 attraction, is preserved

The once-threatened, 28-foot-tall Gemini Giant has been saved! After placing a bid on the beloved Route 66 attraction that was up for auction, the Joliet Area Historical Museum conveyed it to the City of Wilmington. “For over a year, the Joliet Area Historical Museum and the City of Wilmington have been working together in the common goal of saving the Gemini Giant to preserve its historic place along the world’s famous road,” said Wilmington Mayor Ben Dietz in a release posted March 20 to the city’s Facebook page.

Since 1965, the Gemini Giant has stood outside the Launching Pad restaurant in Wilmington. The statue is one of the many “Muffler Men” statues along Route 66. It was named after Project Gemini, NASA’s second human spaceflight program that ran from 1961 to 1966. On March 20, crews lifted the Giant off its pedestal and moved it to safe storage. It will be installed later this spring at its new home alongside a planned Route 66 monument in Wilmington’s South Island Park.

In 2017, Landmarks Illinois listed iconic Route 66 roadside attractions, like the Giant, on its Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski, who also serves as board chair for the Joliet Area Historical Museum, was in Wilmington on March 20 to celebrate the news. Congratulations to all involved in this successful preservation effort!


Read more in the news:

Gemini Giant statue moved from its post of nearly 60 years in Wilmington, Illinois
CBS News, March 20

Gemini Giant sells for $275K, will remain in Wilmington
Kankakee Daily Journal, March 25

Gemini Giant Leaves Launching Pad, New Wilmington Spot Revealed

Joliet Patch, March 20

Check out WBBM’s TikTok post on the news here.

Jackson Park's Darrow Bridge and other South Side landmarks receive grant funding

Landmarks Illinois has awarded grants to three preservation projects through the Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side. Among the grant recipients is the local nonprofit Jackson Park Watch, which plans to conduct a structural assessment of the Clarence Darrow Bridge (pictured above) to help determine a preservation plan. The bridge, which has been closed but once connected the west and east sides of the park, dates back to the World Columbia Exposition of 1893.

Other grant recipients are the Bronzeville Trail Task Force, which is working to create a recreational trail from old CTA train tracks, and Englewood Real Estate Development Corp., which is restoring the historic Schlitz Tied House on W. 69th Street.

Visit our website to learn more about the recent grant recipients.

Learn more


The Landmarks Illinois Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side provides small planning and capital matching grants to support organizations and people working to preserve the history, culture and architecture of Chicago’s South Side. The next application deadline for funding is July 1. Visit our website to view complete grant guidelines and to submit a grant application.<

Learn about the grant fund

Grant application deadline: Monday, April 1

Apply for a grant through Landmarks Illinois’ Preservation Heritage Fund and the Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund for Illinois by April 1!

Each fund provides financial assistance to preserve or protect significant structures and sites in Illinois. Visit our website to learn more about qualifying projects for each grant fund and to submit an application.

Learn more

Don't demolish Soldier Field

Landmarks Illinois has issued a statement in response to reports of the possible demolition of Soldier Field to build a new stadium for the Chicago Bears football team. As the organization that has led preservation efforts over the past two decades for the century-old, iconic landmark, our stance is clear: We oppose any plan that demolishes the few remaining pieces of the original Soldier Field.

“We have already witnessed major missteps in the past by those who serve as stewards of Soldier Field,” said Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald in the statement. “Previous changes to the once-designated National Historic Landmark caused the building to lose vital aspects of its historic value. Let us not lose more by tearing it down.”

Read the full statement below.

(Pictured: Soldier Field before previous renovations. Credit Ron Gordon.)

Read our statement

'Beam signing event' recognizes ongoing preservation efforts at Old Joliet Prison

On March 22, a “beam signing” event at the Old Joliet Prison marked the ongoing preservation efforts at the nationally recognized historic site and highlighted the community’s dedication to the project. The event was hosted by the Joliet Area Historical Museum (JAHM), the City of Joliet, Klein & Hoffman and Berglund Construction with special guests the original Blues Brothers Tom Malone and Blue Lou Marin.

Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski, who also chairs the JAHM board, attended the event and provided remarks on the ongoing preservation effort. Board Member Allison Toonen-Talamo of architectural & structural engineering firm Klein & Hoffman and former Board Member Jack Tribia of general contracting and restoration firm Berglund Construction also attended. Both Klein & Hoffman and Berglund Construction are working with JAHM on stabilizing the prison’s historic Administration Building, cell blocks, chapel and hospital. Since 2022, JAHM has received a $3 million Federal Community Project Grant and $7 million in state funds for the stabilization work.

Landmarks Illinois included Old Joliet Prison on its 2002 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. That year, the prison closed and largely sat empty, subjecting it to vandalism and neglect for 15 years until the City of Joliet took control of the property in December 2017. Since then, JAHM has overseen and led preservation efforts at the site, which remains as a place of conscience that allows for a critical understanding of the experiences of incarcerated people. In 2023, Old Joliet Prison was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The ongoing preservation of Old Joliet Prison is one of the largest and most visible historic preservation efforts in Illinois.

Pictured (left to right): Jack Tribbia, Berglund Construction; Quin Adamowski, Landmarks Illinois; Allison Toonen-Talamo, Klein & Hoffman at the beam signing event.

Learn more

Help us save the Century & Consumers Buildings in Chicago

The Century & Consumers Buildings in Chicago are two architecturally significant terra cotta-clad skyscrapers located within the National Register-listed Loop Retail Historic District. The U.S. General Services Administration, which owns the buildings, has proposed demolishing them but is considering alternatives.

At our website, learn all about the buildings’ history, the ongoing demolition threat and how you can help us save them. We are asking our supporters to please contact their government officials to voice opposition to demolition. A list of local representatives and an email letter template is available at our website.

Learn more

Next Thursday - Preservation Snapshots Lecture: "Twentieth Anniversary of the Edith Farnsworth House"

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the famous house in Plano being open to the public, learn how Landmarks Illinois worked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to save it. Joe Antunovich, architect and former Landmarks Illinois Chair, will share first-hand stories from the successful preservation effort.


Thursday, April 4, 2024
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Via Zoom

Free to Landmarks Illinois Members
Registration required.


Miss our March Preservation Snapshots Lecture?

Watch “Underground Railroad & Freedom Seeking in the 19th Century, Law vs Morality,” here and all previous presentations on Youtube.

ICYMI: LI hosts Preservation Forward at The Old Post Office

Landmarks Illinois held its 2024 Preservation Forward event on February 29, 2024, at The Old Post Office in Chicago. Approximately 730 guests joined us in honoring our 2024 Landmarks Illinois Influencers. The annual fundraiser raised approximately $600,000 for Landmarks Illinois’ mission-driven work helping people save places. Thank you to all our supporters and donors who helped make the event a success! See photos from the event below and click here for an event recap. (Pictured: 2024 Landmarks Illinois Influencers with Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald. Credit: David T. Kindler)

2024 Preservation Forward Photos

Watch our video!

Learn about our 2024 Landmarks Illinois Influencers in this short video, which debuted at Preservation Forward.

SAVE THE DATE: May 7, 12 p.m.

2024 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois Announcement

Landmarks Illinois will announce the sites on this year’s Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois at a virtual, live press conference. All members of the public and press are welcome to tune in. The announcement is free to attend but registration is necessary. Stay tuned for registration coming in April.

Landmarks Illinois in Springfield for Lobby Day

Landmarks Illinois’ Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski (left) and Board Chair Gary Anderson (right) attended AIA Illinois’s Prairie Grassroots Lobby Day in Springfield on March 13. Landmarks Illinois partners with AIA Illinois during the important lobbying day to visit elected officials to advocate for pro-preservation legislation. Among those who joined Landmarks Illinois for AIA’s day of action is Alicia Ponce (center), founder and principal of architecture firm AP Monarch, and a 2022 Landmarks Illinois Influencer.

Women's History Month Spotlight: Women Who Built Illinois

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we welcome you to explore Landmarks Illinois’ groundbreaking “Women Who Built Illinois” database. The first-of-its-kind online collection features information on more than 100 female architects, engineers, developers, designers, builders, landscape architects and interior designers and clients and their projects between 1879 and 1979. The database is the result of an in-depth survey of women in architecture & design-related fields that Landmarks Illinois launched in 2020.

(Pictured, clockwise from upper left: Margaret Zirkel Young, Gertrude Kerbis, Jane J. Graham, Beverly Loraine Green, Natalie Griffin de Blois, Po Hu Shao, Georgia Louise Harris Brown, Marion Mahony Griffin.)

Explore the database

Harley Clarke Mansion RFPs Due May 28

The deadline to submit a proposal for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the historic Harley Clarke Mansion is Evanston is approaching. The City of Evanston has issued its Request for Proposals (RFP) last month. Responses are due by 2 p.m. on May 28. Landmarks Illinois has long advocated for the reuse of the Harley Clarke Mansion, including it on our 2016 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.

Learn more about the RFP

Top social media post of the month

Apollo’s 2000 receives final landmark recommendation

Our Instagram post sharing the news that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks recently approved final landmark recommendation for Apollo’s 2000, a historic former theater in the Little Village neighborhood, was our most popular post across social media in March. See it here.

Other top posts:

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Additional Landmarks Illinois Preservation News

  • Landmarks Illinois will begin taking nominations for the 2024 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards next week! Nominations officially open April 2 and will be due by June 1, 2024. Winners will be honored at a public ceremony in Chicago in October. Learn more.


  • Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald gave four presentations in March on The Relevancy Project, her work with Landmarks Illinois to identify ways to move preservation forward. Thank you to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Lambda Alpha International – Ely Chapter, the Realty Club of Chicago and the Village of Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission for hosting these discussions.


  • The Promontory Point Conservancy will host a press conference on April 4 at 10 a.m. at the Promontory (Club), 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West. The local advocacy group will release its coastal engineers’ condition study of Promontory Point’s historic limestone revetment, which shows the original structure can be saved. Landmarks Illinois will be at the press conference to give comments. Learn more here.


  • The Illinois Underground Railroad Task Force, launched earlier this year, welcomes interested parties to join one of its four subcommittees: Cultural Impact for Communities; Education and History; Historical Sites; and Landmarks Communications and Technology. The task force’s mission is “to develop a statewide plan to connect existing local projects and new projects to create a cohesive statewide history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois while creating new educational opportunities for the State.” The task force was established by the State of Illinois in June 2023 and began meeting in January 2024. Learn more and/or sign up for a subcommittee here.

Read the full March 2024 Preservation News Roundup:

march 2024 Preservation News

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