Preservation News Roundup: February 2023

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.

Pro bono conditions assessment at historic school in Chicago's Altgeld Gardens

On February 17, Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen joined McGuire Igleski & Associates Inc.’s Erica Ruggiero, Pullman National Historical Park Superintendent Teri Gage and representatives of People For Community Recovery (PCR) Freddie Batchelor, Beria Hampton, and Jamira Owokoniran for a walkthrough of a former school building in Chicago’s Altgeld Gardens. Built in 1944, the former Chicago Public School, known as “School Building C,” is vacant and has suffered severe deterioration after decades of neglect. Landmarks Illinois included the school on its 2021 Most Endangered list along with multiple other structures in Altgeld Gardens, a now National Register-listed community on Chicago’s Far South Side.

McGuire Igleski & Associates, Inc., will prepare a pro bono conditions assessment of the former school building. Local advocates with PCR envision reusing the school as an institute for sustainability and environmental justice. Access to the building for the condition assessment was provided by Chicago Public Schools. Learn more about the history of Altgeld Gardens below.

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Pro bono conditions assessment will help West Side church make essential repairs

Also, on February 17, Bulley & Andrews conducted a pro bono assessment of Greater Union Baptist Church on Chicago’s Near West Side. The site visit included flying a drone to observe conditions above the roofline. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved a final landmark recommendation for Greater Union Baptist at its February meeting. Designed by William Le Baron Jenney and originally the home of the Church of the Redeemer Universalist congregation, the building has been home to Greater Union Baptist since 1928. The assessment will help Greater Union Baptist plan for repairs.

Landmarks Illinois awards more than $25,000 in grant funding to preservation projects across the state

Landmarks Illinois has awarded $25,500 in grant funding to preservation projects in the communities of Chicago, Effingham, El Paso, Gibson City, Macomb and Middletown. The matching grants were awarded through Landmarks Illinois’ Preservation Heritage Fund and Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund for Illinois grant programs.

Among the recent grants was a $2,500 grant to new owner of the Heart Theatre in Effingham (pictured). The grant funding will help conduct a feasibility study on the historic, Art Deco cinema, which will aid rehabilitation efforts at the vacant property.

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Skyline Council heart bombs the Will County Courthouse

Landmarks Illinois’ young & emerging professionals committee, the Skyline Council, and the Courthouse Preservation Partnership hosted a heart bombing on Saturday, February 11, at the former Will County Courthouse in Joliet. The event showered the architecturally significant courthouse currently threatened with demolition with love ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Thank you to everyone who joined the community event! Click below to view photos from the heart bomb. (Photo above by Lewis Purdy)

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Will County Courthouse RFEI

Landmarks Illinois and Courthouse Preservation Partnership are calling on qualified developers and architectural firms to share their potential reuse visions for the former Will County Courthouse in Joliet. The architecturally significant but vacant courthouse faces a demolition threat, and Landmarks Illinois and the Joliet-based Courthouse Preservation Partnership are issuing an exploratory Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for purposes of compiling and sharing potential reuse ideas with Will County officials.

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FROM THE BLOG: Raw? Sure. Brutal? Maybe. Demolished? Definitely not. Original Will County Courthouse Structural Engineer believes the building can continue to serve the community.

Raw? Sure. Brutal? Maybe. Demolished? Definitely not. Original Will County Courthouse Structural Engineer believes the building can continue to serve the community.

In 1964, Barry Goldberg was a Design Structural Engineer at C.F. Murphy Associates, the architectural firm where Otto Stark worked when he designed the former Will County Courthouse. The building was a feat of engineering, constructed of cast-in-place reinforced concrete and built on top of solid Joliet Limestone. Today, it is threatened with demolition as it sits vacant and without plans for reuse. In this guest article, Goldberg shares his experience as an engineer executing Stark’s vision for this unapologetically Brutalist-style building.

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Landmarks Illinois welcomes new Programs Manager Leila Wills

Leila Wills has made cultural preservation her life’s work. Born in Chicago’s Altgeld Gardens to parents who were in the Black Panther Party, Leila has been a powerful advocate for Black history in Chicago and the nation. Prior to joining Landmarks Illinois in February 2023, she was the Executive Director of the Historical Preservation Society of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. She also previously was the media director for a Chicago nonprofit for at-risk youth, has worked as a journalist focusing on Black history and is the publisher of Metropolis newspaper, based in Bronzeville, Chicago’s oldest Black neighborhood. Her grandfather, Raeburn Flerlage, was a well-known blues photographer of Chicago’s greatest blues artists. His entire collection is today housed at the Chicago History Museum. Leila is currently finishing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies at Northeastern Illinois University and is also working on a thematic nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Leila looks forward to bringing her leadership in advocacy, community building and cultural heritage to build upon Landmarks Illinois’ statewide partnerships and develop creative and engaging programs for its diverse audience.

Leila can be reached at

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Additional Landmarks Illinois preservation news

  • Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski traveled to Springfield last week to attend the Rural Community Economic Development Conference. He also is reaching out to state legislators to seek support and co-sponsorship for two bills (HB1513 & SB119) that would extend and expand the Illinois Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
  • Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen & Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski traveled to Indianapolis this month to participate in the Midwest Preservation Gathering. On Thursday, February 2, the group toured the Bottleworks Hotel, a 92-year-old former Coca-Cola bottling plant reimagined as a boutique hotel. Read more about the project & see more photos here.
  • Landmarks Illinois participated in crafting a questionnaire that AIA Chicago sent to the nine Chicago mayoral candidates that focuses on the built environment. This month, three of the nine candidates provided responses. Read them here.
  • Members of the public are encouraged to continue to participate in the Illinois Statewide Historic Preservation Office’s (IL-SHPO) process to prepare a new statewide historic preservation plan. SHPO will be hosting a virtual and in-person workshops through the year to gather public input. In March, on-site workshops will take place in Rock Island, Rockford and Chicago. Learn more here.
  • Landmarks Illinois co-hosted its annual masonry training on February 16 with the International Masonry Institute and the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers District Council 1 Illinois. Over 300 people attended the virtual seminar focused on brick matching. This marked the sixth year the partners hosted a free training on the proper repair of historic masonry.
  • Landmarks Illinois was invited to participate in the City of Chicago’s 2024 Central Area planning process to develop a 20-year vision for equitable downtown growth. Chicago’s Central Area covers the Loop, South Loop, West Loop and River North communities, which includes several of the city’s well-known historic landmarks. The two-phase planning process will include topics such as housing, transportation, economic development and arts and culture. Arts and culture were the focus of the first planning focus group held on February 27. Learn more.


Download the full news roundup below.

February 2023 Preservation News Roundup

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