October 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.

Celebrating our 2023 Preservation Award Winners

The 2023 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards took place Friday, October 27, at the Athenaeum Center for Thought & Culture in Chicago. The awards ceremony and reception celebrated our 2023 award winners and marked the 30th anniversary of the awards program that annually calls attention to exceptional preservation projects across Illinois. (Pictured: Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation receives its award for the Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub at the awards ceremony.)


  • Bloomhaven Innovative Living Community, Aurora – Award for Adaptive Reuse
  • Auburn Gresham Healthy Lifestyle Hub, Chicago – Award for Adaptive Reuse
  • Bronzeville Legends, Chicago – Award for Cultural Heritage Preservation
  • The Old Post Office, Chicago – Award for Adaptive Reuse
  • Tribune Tower, Chicago – Award for Adaptive Reuse
  • Resource Bank, Dekalb – Award for Leadership
  • Goodall Building, Marion – Award for Rehabilitation
  • Maywood Supportive Living, Maywood – Award for Adaptive Reuse
  • OSF Healthcare Ministry Headquarters, Peoria – Award for Rehabilitation

Thank you to everyone who attended the event. Congratulations again to the 2023 award recipients and all past award winners who joined the celebration!

Check out photos from the event below.

2023 Awards Ceremony

Landmarks Illinois wins national award for saving the Ebony Test Kitchen

Landmarks Illinois has received an Advocacy Award of Excellence from Docomomo US for its years-long effort to save the Ebony Test Kitchen. Landmarks Illinois and project partners, including the Skyline Council of Landmarks Illinois, will be honored at a public ceremony in New York City on November 2.

Docomomo announced the award, as well as all recipients of the 2023 Modernism in American Awards, last month via a press release:

“An Advocacy Award of Excellence is given for the outstanding efforts to save the historic Ebony Test Kitchen. Used for decades by Ebony Magazine food editors, the Test Kitchen is a significant part of the legacy of Johnson Publishing Company, the nation’s foremost African American publisher during its prime. Originally housed within the Publishing Company’s headquarters, itself a Chicago Landmark designed by John Moutousammy, the first Black architect to have a building on Michigan Avenue, the Test Kitchen got its signature funky aesthetic with the help of Palm Springs-based interior designers William Raiser and Arthur Elrod.

“In 2018, as the building faced redevelopment, Landmarks Illinois secured the Test Kitchen’s future by purchasing it for $1. With the aid of dedicated volunteers and the Skyline Council, it was documented, dismantled, and stored until the following year when it went on loan at the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), which reconstructed two rooms, refurbished the kitchen, and reproduced key elements, including its iconic wallpaper, for the exhibition African/American: Making the Nation’s Table.

“In June 2023, Landmarks Illinois announced the donation of the Ebony Test Kitchen to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The Test Kitchen will become part of the museum’s permanent collection, ensuring its pivotal role in Black, culinary, and architectural history endures.”

(Pictured: Former Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera with Jean Nihoul, Former Curator & Culinary Operations Manager at MOFAD; and Charla Draper, Publicist and former Ebony Food Editor, in the test kitchen in New York.)

Learn more

Grants support Southern Illinois preservation efforts in Johnston City and Murphysboro

Landmarks Illinois has awarded grants to help preserve two historic buildings in the Southern Illinois communities of Johnston City and Murphysboro through the Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program. The matching grants of $2,500 each will support the rehabilitation of the historic Andresen’s Café in Johnston City and tuckpointing at the historic GM&O Railroad Depot building in Murphysboro.

Representatives from Landmarks Illinois and Banterra Bank presented checks to the grant recipients in both communities on October 25. (Pictured left to right) Quinn Adamowski, Landmarks Illinois, Scott Evans, Paula Maloney, Murphysboro Main Street; Jennifer Spence, Banterra Bank, Terry Crain, Murphysboro Main Street.)

Learn more

Upcoming grant application deadline

Apply for a grant by January 1, 2024!

Applications for the next round of grant funding through the Landmarks Illinois Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side and the Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program are due January 1, 2024. (Pictured: (pictured left to right) Starla Waters, Banterra Bank Banking Center Manager, Johnston City; Anthony Spiller of Andresen’s Café, Quinn Adamowski, Landmarks Illinois; Jennifer Spence, Banterra Bank.)

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.

Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program

Provides monetary assistance to preserve or rehabilitate historic structures in downtowns and other commercial corridors of Southern Illinois to support economic development.

Visit our website to learn about the grant programs and see if your preservation project qualifies for funding.

Learn more

Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council supports Gillson Park National Register nomination

On Friday, October 27, the Illinois Historic Sites Advocacy Committee (IHSAC) voted unanimously in favor of recommending Gillson Park in Wilmette to the National Register of Historic Places. The Gillson Park nomination for the National Register will next be considered by the National Park Service. Kendra Parzen, Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager, attended last week’s IHSAC meeting in Springfield to speak in support of listing Gillson Park in the National Register.

Landmarks Illinois called attention to Gillson Park along Lake Michigan on our 2022 Most Endangered list as the Wilmette Park District was considering making changes to the historic, Prairie-style park that would have altered the design, removed greenery and added more roads and parking — much to the dismay of many locals. Landmarks Illinois also sponsored the Gillson Park National Register nomination, prepared by Julia S. Bachrach, landscape historian, and Malcolm Cairns, FASLA. Both Bachrach and Cairns will be leading a Preservation Snapshots program on Gillson Park this week. Register for the virtual program, “Gillson Park and Wilmette Harbor, a Fascinating and Remarkably Intact Historic Landscape” by clicking here. The program is free for Landmarks Illinois members!

Also, we ask Wilmette residents and Landmarks Illinois members to please get in touch with the Wilmette Park District to voice your support for the preservation of Gillson Park.

Contact the Park District!

Among the additional National Register nominations considered by IHSAC last week was one for Downtown Joliet’s Historic District and the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski was at the IHSAC meeting to support the Joliet nomination, and Landmarks Illinois Programs Manager Leila Wills presented the nomination for multiple properties associated with the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, for which Wills serves as Executive Director. Parzen submitted a letter on behalf of Landmarks Illinois in support of the multiple property listing for the Black Panther Party. IHSAC voted to recommend both nominations for inclusion in the National Register.

Landmarks Illinois weighs in on Thompson Center atrium and facade demolition

Earlier this month, the City of Chicago granted permits to demolish the exterior and atrium of the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop. The iconic, Post Modern building designed by Helmut Jahn, was included on Landmarks Illinois’ Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois four times since 2017, repeatedly calling for its reuse. In 2022, Google announced it would purchase the building and reuse it as office space for the company.

Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald provided the following statement to the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported on the demolition permit plans.

“Since we have not seen a current rendering or received details about the demolition permit application for the Thompson Center, we cannot comment on specifics. However, understanding the known concerns about the energy efficiency of the building’s current non-insulated windows, some level of exterior demolition does not come as a surprise. While we realize losing the existing windows would change the character of the building and add to the waste stream, we also recognize the need and opportunity to make historic buildings more energy efficient – something Landmarks Illinois supports. We take in the big picture that the building is being reused, and that is a win.”

Read the full article below.

Read more

Additional 2023 Most Endangered Historic Places Updates

Alexander Brothers Blacksmith Shop


The historic former blacksmith shop from the mid-1800s will not be demolished. In September, the Geneva City Council unanimously voted to deny a demolition permit from the building’s owner, the Shodeen Family Foundation. The Geneva Historic Preservation Commission previously rejected the application, prompting the owner to appeal the decision — ultimately unsuccessfully — to the full council.

Read more

Baxter International Headquarters


Baxter, a healthcare company, announced recently it would keep and reinvest in its architecturally significant corporate campus. The move halts previous plans to sell the property to an industrial company that wanted to demolish the Midcentury Modern campus to build logistics facilities.

Read more

Century & Consumers Buildings


The U.S. General Services Administration convened a public hearing on October 2 as part of a federal environmental review process that considers the impacts of the possible demolition of the architecturally significant skyscrapers. Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen attended the hearing and joined many others who spoke publicly in opposition to demolition. Read Parzen’s full statement below.

Read more

Deadline approaching to respond to REI for reuse of Harley Clarke Mansion in Evanston

The City of Evanston, in partnership with Landmarks Illinois, is seeking expressions of serious interest in the adaptive use and rehabilitation of the Harley Clarke Mansion, a former Most Endangered site.

Responses to the REI are due November 14, 2023.

Read more

Most Endangered Program intern

JANUARY 2023 – MAY 2024

This paid internship will provide the intern with the opportunity to support Landmarks Illinois’ annual Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Most Endangered lists are a common and valuable historic preservation advocacy tool; this position will allow the intern to develop a set of skills transferable to a variety of preservation organizations. The intern will work closely with Advocacy and Communications staff to prepare for the announcement of the 2024 list in late spring.

Learn more

PRESERVATION SNAPSHOTS - Gillson Park and Wilmette Harbor, a Fascinating and Remarkably Intact Historic Landscape


12 p.m. Via Zoom

Join us for a discussion about the National-Register nominated park along Lake Michigan.


Skyline Council Neighborhood Tour & Pub Crawl


5:30-8:30 p.m. – Roscoe Village

Join Skyline Council and Chicago for Chicagoans for a pub crawl and neighborhood tour of Roscoe Village. Visit local bars and explore nearby historic sites that have played a role in shaping the neighborhood.


PRESERVATION SNAPSHOTS - Ten Years Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago


12 p.m. – Via Zoom

Learn how the largest public school closing in U.S. history has impacted the city of Chicago at this discussion that looks back a decade after 49 Chicago Public School closings.


Additional Landmarks Illinois preservation news

  • Will County has awarded a contract to demolish the architecturally significant former Will County Courthouse in Joliet, named to Landmarks Illinois’ 2022 Most Endangered list. The demolition contract is reported to cost nearly $1.5 million. American Demolition Corporation of Carol Stream is expected to begin tearing down the building in November.
  • The Forest Preserve District of Kane County voted on October 10 against proceeding with the demolition of the Barn at Mill Creek in the Greenway Forest Preserve, also known as the R C Judd/ Bob Johnsen Starline Barn. The 1920s dairy barn design reflects the 100 years that dairy drove and dominated Kane County’s agricultural abundance and rural life. The district had previously proposed demolishing the barn if a new use and funding source for restoration work was not determined by March 2024. Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen submitted a statement opposing the March deadline and demolition. Read it here.
  • Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald will be moderating a panel discussion on at the City of Chicago’s City Civics Day. The panel discussion is called, “Connecting with Chicago’s Cultural Histories.” The event is free to attend. Learn more here.
  • On October 10, Bonnie McDonald presented to the Evanston Preservation Commission about The Relevancy Project, her work with Landmarks Illinois to identify ways to make preservation relevant to more people. Watch the presentation here beginning at 2:38 min (total presentation is approximately 50 minutes). The commissioner’s questions were a helpful reflection on the project.
  • Preservation can be transformative for communities, even when it is incremental. In 2015, Jacksonville, Illinois, had a downtown turnaround project that won a Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award. Among those who led that initiative was Jacksonville Main Street Director Judy Tighe, who has continued inspiring downtown revitalization. This included Rabbi Rob and Lauren Thomas, who have purchased and begun restoring four downtown buildings. Rabbi Rob grew up in and recently returned to Jacksonville and is bringing his IT and business expertise to invest in downtown housing and support small entrepreneurs. Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski and President & CEO Bonnie McDonald visited with Rabbi Rob in Jacksonville on October 12 to celebrate the Thomas’ work and connect them with additional preservation resources. Kudos to Rabbi Rob and Lauren for investing in the people and places that make Jacksonville unique.

Read the full October 2023 Preservation News Roundup:

October 2023 Preservation News

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