Preservation News Roundup: 2021 YEAR IN REVIEW

Welcome to our roundup of Landmarks Illinois’ major advocacy efforts, projects, programs and events during 2021. Thank you to all our partners, on-the-ground advocates, members and supporters for joining us during our 50th anniversary year as we helped people across Illinois save places. We hope you will support us in 2022 as we continue our important work!


Landmarks Illinois turned 50 in 2021! As planned, we treated this milestone as an opportunity: rather than look back, our mandate is to move forward to ensure we are relevant for the next 50 years. Read below on the many ways we set in motion our plans for reshaping preservation’s future.

50FORWARD spring fundraiser celebrates five decades of people saving places!

Landmarks Illinois held its first ever virtual spring fundraising event this year, 50FORWARD. The successful evening celebration marked 50 years since our founding, giving guests a look back at our accomplishments since 1971 as well insights into our bold vision for the future of preservation in Illinois and across the nation.

Nearly 500 people tuned in to the virtual event and helped us raise $616,000 for our mission-driven advocacy work!

(Picture: Artist Lindsay Wilson, Founder and COO of Ink Factory, created this custom artwork during 50FORWARD. The art visually demonstrates Landmarks Illinois’ 50th Anniversary, its mission and its plans for the future of preservation in Illinois.)

watch the 50Forward videos

Honoring our 20 'Landmarks Illinois Influencers'

Our 50FORWARD event also gave us an opportunity to name and honor 20 individuals who have been instrumental in Landmarks Illinois’ mission over our 50-year history and who we believe will continue to impact preservation. These 20 people were named “Landmarks Illinois Influencers” in early 2021. Learn more about each of them and how they have shaped our organization and our work at our website!

Landmarks Illinois Influencers

New Guiding Principles define our vision for the future of preservation

As part of its 50th anniversary, Landmarks Illinois released its Guiding Principles in 2021. Created by the Landmarks Illinois 50th Anniversary Task Force, the Guiding Principles will act as Landmarks Illinois’ code of conduct in implementing its values and defining its vision for the future of preservation.

Landmarks Illinois’ 5 Guiding Principles:

1. Fight for and model justice, equity, inclusion, diversity and accessibility.

2. Confront climate change and promote environmental justice.

3. Build lasting and positive relationships through the investment of time and the free sharing of resources to support communities in their preservation efforts.

4. Identify, share and reinforce honest stories of people’s intersection with place.

5. Be fully transparent and accountable.

Following the release of these new Guiding Principles, Landmarks Illinois held a Preservation Snapshots Lecture in October to discuss them and take questions from the audience. Watch that lecture, led by Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald, here.

Read more about our Guiding Principles at our website.

(Pictured:  Landmarks Illinois staff, members of the Skyline Council and Pastor Dele Asogbon at the former Rogers Park Woman’s Club, now home to RCCG New Hope Assembly.)

Read the guiding principles

Additional 50th Anniversary content from our blog


The demolition of Adler and Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange Building sparked the creation of Landmarks Illinois in 1971. The former arched entrance to the building, preserved today at the Art Institute of Chicago, has continued to inspire the organization. In this special 50th Anniversary article, we speak with two artists who have used the architecturally significant arch to create artwork for Landmarks Illinois: Vicki Granacki & Jill Kramer. Read the article.


In this special interview, two longtime Landmarks Illinois Board Members and volunteers, Martin Tangora and Will Tippens, ask each other about their decades of service to the organization, what has changed over the years and what preservation projects they are most proud of. Read the article.


Two first-of-its kind databases debuted on this year, marking a major milestone in multi-year research efforts to compile data on unique and important resources in Illinois.

Women Who Built Illinois Database

In August, Landmarks Illinois published an online database, Women Who Built Illinois, which includes information on over 100 female architects, engineers, developers, designers, builders, landscape architects, interior designers and clients and their Illinois projects from 1879 to 1979.

The database is the result of an in-depth survey of women in architecture, real estate and design-related fields that Landmarks Illinois publicly launched in 2020 — a year that marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, upholding a U.S. citizen’s right to vote regardless of sex. The database calls attention to the women who helped to create places that today are cherished by communities and property owners across Illinois, yet many remain unprotected without local landmark status or lack National Register designation that would provide opportunities for important financial preservation incentives. The database is made possible thanks to generous financial support from: Women in Restoration & Engineering (WiRE), AIA Illinois, the Kohler Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Kim Kerbis, in honor of Gertrude Lempp Kerbis.

(Pictured: Jane Johnson (Graham), Head of Interiors Department SOM 1957-1960. Courtesy SOM.)

Read more:

New Landmarks Illinois database highlights over 100 women who built Illinois
Landmarks Illinois press release, August 18, 2021

Landmarks Illinois launches database of pioneering Prairie State women in architecture, engineering, and design
The Architect’s Newspaper, August 23, 2021

Four Women Who Built Illinois
National Trust for Historic Preservation, November 14, 2021

Margaret Zirkel Young: A Woman Who Helped Build Illinois
Landmarks Illinois Preservation News Blog, November 5, 2021

Explore the database

WWI Monuments of Illinois Database

In honor of Veterans Day in November, Landmarks Illinois launched its new online database of historic World War I monuments and memorials in Illinois. The Landmarks Illinois WWI Monuments of Illinois Database contains information on more than 300 monuments and memorials such as doughboy statues, plaques, sculptures and public spaces dedicated to honoring those who served in the Great War. Monuments included in the database are located in 158 different Illinois communities.

In 2017, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into WWI, Landmarks Illinois launched the statewide survey to better learn about the remaining WWI monuments in Illinois. The database was made possible through generous financial support from the Pritzker Military Foundation. Shortly after launching the database, Landmarks Illinois learned the landing page, would be archived by the Library of Congress.

(Pictured: Goldstar Memorial in Riverside. Left to right: Suzanne Germann, Landmarks Illinois Director of Reinvestment; Joseph Baar Topinka, Commander, American Legion Post #488; Jason Hinsley, Vice Commander, American Legion Post #488; Jim Connelly, Vice Commander, Sons of American Legion Post #488; Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois President & CEO; Tom Sisulak, Commander, Sons of American Legion Post #488. Credit: Pivot Photography)

Read more:

Landmarks Illinois publishes WWI Monuments of Illinois Database containing more than 300 memorials of the Great War
Landmarks Illinois press release, November 11, 2021

Landmarks: Monuments to a century-old war can fade into the background, but new effort hopes to give them ‘a moment of memory they deserve’
Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2021

New project documents over 300 WWI memorials in Illinois
Associated Press, November 14, 2021

Online catalog of WWI memorials in Illinois works to preserve history
WGN, November 14, 2021

Explore the database


Landmarks Illinois made a number of changes to its staff this year, including promoting existing team members and welcoming two new ones. The changes and growth to the team mark an important shift to better serve the people of Illinois.

Frank Butterfield becomes COO

After working as Landmarks Illinois’ Springfield Office Director for the past eight years, Frank Butterfield stepped in to the new Chief Operating Officer position. Landmarks Illinois proudly announced the promotion in July this year. During his time serving the greater Illinois area, Butterfield radically advanced the organization’s field work and made it possible for Landmarks Illinois to help more people save places all throughout the state. In his COO role, Frank will lead day-to-day operational duties and play a large role in implementing Landmarks Illinois’ next strategic plan and fulfilling its goals to be a relevant, inclusive and diverse organization that thrives for decades to come.

Read more

Quinn Adamowski hired as new Regional Advocacy Manager

Following Frank’s promotion, Landmarks Illinois hired Quinn Adamowski as its new Regional Advocacy Manager. In his role, Quinn will serve as the organization’s frontline preservation advocate in communities in the greater Illinois area outside Chicago and its suburbs. His main office is based in Joliet, and he will be traveling throughout Illinois to meet with community advocates and nonprofit partners as well as city officials and legislators to provide preservation resources and expertise as needed. Landmarks Illinois encourages communities in the greater Illinois area to reach out to Adamowski about their local preservation efforts and to find out more about how Landmarks Illinois can help.

Read more

Additional Landmarks Illinois staff promotions and hires

In August, Landmarks Illinois also announced exciting new staff developments that will further enable the organization to serve the people of Illinois and support our future plans for preservation in the state and nation. Three members of the Landmarks Illinois team were promoted and/or have a new job title that more closely fits their mission-driven work: Julie Carpenter was promoted to Programs Manager, Suzanne Germann, who has worked for Landmarks Illinois for more than 15 years and was previously our Director of Grants & Easements, is now the Director of Reinvestment; and Tiffanie Williams, longtime Events Manager, was promoted to Director of Corporate Giving & Events.

Additionally, Landmarks Illinois welcomes its new Events Manager, Alma Rebronja in October. Alma (pictured above with Tiffanie Williams) will step into Tiffanie’s former role leading and developing the organization’s engaging events.

Read more


New Chicago Landmark Designations

Chicago had a number of historic places designated as official city landmarks in 2021. Many of these places were historic sites Landmarks Illinois has called attention to through its Most Endangered Historic Places list, helped local residents advocate for and in some cases provided grants to help preserve.

KEN NORDINE HOME - Landmarked January 2021

Preventing demolition of the late “Word Jazz” icon Ken Nordine’s former Edgewater home was a significant multi-partner advocacy effort that began in 2020. Landmarks Illinois joined the Edgewater Historical Society and Preservation Chicago in the lengthy advocacy campaign, and in January of this year, the site officially became a Chicago Landmark.

Learn more.

MIRACLE HOUSE - Landmarked April 2021

Landmarks Illinois worked with the owner and preservation advocate Dan Lempa to prepare the landmark designation report for the unique, 1954 Belli & Belli-designed “Miracle House” in Galewood. It was officially designated a Chicago Landmark in April.

Learn more.


The church, formerly called Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, was built in 1931 in the heart of Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. Landmarks Illinois advocated for the landmarking of the church and awarded the congregation a Preservation Heritage Fund Grant in September 2020 to help pay for priority repairs of the historic structure and later brought in preservation professionals to help with additional technical assistance. It became a Chicago Landmark in May.

Learn more.

MUDDY WATERS HOME - Landmarked October 2021

Landmarks Illinois co-authored the landmark designation report with City of Chicago Historic Preservation Division staff and partnered with Muddy Waters’ great-granddaughter Chandra Cooper in the landmarking effort at the 2013 Most Endangered site. Cooper leads the Muddy Waters Original Jam Out (MOJO) Museum, which is working to transform the house into a museum and cultural center. Landmarks Illinois also awarded the MOJO Museum a grant in 2020 through the Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side and assisted with preparation of its successful application for the city’s Adopt a Landmark grant program, announced in November.

Learn more.

HALSTED & WILLOW GROUP - Landmarked October 2021

The intersection of Halsted and Willow Streets in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood is home to four Victorian-era buildings. Once threatened due to possible redevelopment, the former Most Endangered site became a Chicago Landmark in October. Landmarks Illinois had assisted a local advocacy campaign for years and also provided a Preservation Heritage Fund Grant in 2018 to help pay for an architectural historian to prepare the City of Chicago Landmark District designation report.

Learn more.

Additional Statewide Preservation Wins


Following a years-long advocacy campaign to find a preservation solution for the Harley Clarke Mansion in Evanston, the Evanston City Council agreed to lease the 2016 Most Endangered site to the nonprofit Artist Book House, which plans to restore the historic mansion and reuse it for educational programming and public use.

Learn more.


Landmarks Illinois was one of many organizations who successfully advocated against a proposed Chicago ordinance this year that would have made establishing cultural exhibits like house museums and arts or humanities exhibits in residential-zoned districts extremely difficult and costly. The ordinance had potential broad negative impacts on small nonprofits working to rehabilitate historic buildings in Chicago, such as the Muddy Waters House and the Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley Home (pictured). Following broad opposition, the proposed ordinance was withdrawn from consideration in March.

Learn more.


In June, Gov. JB Pritzker signed a five-year extension to the River Edge Redevelopment Zone (RERZ) Historic Tax Credit, a vital redevelopment incentive for Aurora, East St. Louis, Elgin, Peoria and Rockford. This extension was Landmarks Illinois’ top state legislative priority in 2021 and was made possible by the support of members and partners, especially AIA Illinois, and state legislative leaders Sen. Linda Holmes and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth. The program extension through 2026 had an immediate impact on the Broadview Hotel (pictured), an East St. Louis building featured on Landmarks Illinois’ 2021 Most Endangered Historic Places list, which is set to be rehabilitated with the help of the tax credit.

Learn more.


Two 2018 Most Endangered sites once faced demolition, the Oakdale Tabernacle in Freeport and the Chautauqua Auditorium in Shelbyville, celebrated major preservation victories this year. In August, the Freeport Park District voted unanimously to lease the Oakdale Tabernacle to a local nonprofit organization that formed to save the historic gathering space. In Shelbyville, the Chautauqua Auditorium (pictured) reopened in September following the completion of structural repairs, a new roof and floor, paint and stage improvements. Preservation efforts for the Oakdale Tabernacle and Shelbyville Chautauqua have both received financial support from Landmarks Illinois’ Preservation Heritage Fund Grant Program.

Learn more.


The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Frederick Bagley House in Hinsdale went on the market in July but did not have any legal preservation protection, putting it at risk of demolition and redevelopment. Landmarks Illinois was proud to partner with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and Hinsdale preservationists to advocate for preservation of the 1894 home. In September, it sold to preservation-minded buyers. The village of Hinsdale is also reevaluating its preservation policies.

Learn more.


The Monee Historical Society held its grand opening of the new Monee Heritage Center in the historic and rehabilitated former Monee Creamery in September. Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald joined the celebration. Landmarks Illinois looks forward to continuing to provide the historical society with preservation resources and technical expertise.

Learn more.


A dozen historic sites were recommended for Adopt a Landmark grants from the City of Chicago in November. These places include sites Landmarks Illinois proudly has advocated to preserve throughout our history, including: Glessner House and Second Presbyterian Church (pictured) on the Near South Side, Greenstone United Methodist Church in Pullman, Stone Temple Baptist Church and Pentecostal Church of Holiness in North Lawndale, and the Muddy Waters House in Kenwood. Landmarks Illinois has provided small grants to the places listed above and/or provided technical guidance or other preservation resources. The Adopt a Landmark grants from the city total more than $4.3 million, the largest allocation since the Adopt-A-Landmark program debuted in 2016.

Learn more.


The federal-style residence in Springfield was built in 1857, and from 1901 to 1908 it was the home of the Ambidexter Institute, a school for African-American children modeled after Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. The building faced demolition in 2013, but Landmarks Illinois joined local partners in advocating for its preservation. In November, it was reported that much-needed stabilization efforts were underway thanks to possible TIF funds from the City of Springfield.

Learn more.


Landmarks Illinois was thrilled when Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in December selected a developer for the Thompson Center that plans to reuse the building instead of demolishing what is one of the most iconic and noted examples of Post Modernism in Chicago. Landmarks Illinois has long advocated for preservation and reuse of the Helmut Jahn-designed building, including it four times on our Most Endangered list since 2017. The news came after the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council recommended a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Thompson Center to the National Park Service this summer. Landmarks Illinois commissioned the nomination, which was prepared by Elizabeth Blasius, Jonathan Solomon and AJ LaTrace, and funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The nomination is under review at the National Park Service.

Learn more.


  • Landmarks Illinois awarded a total of $57,000 in grant funding during 2021. The grants were awarded through our three grant programs: The Landmarks Illinois Preservation Heritage Fund Grant Program, the Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund Grant Program and our newest grant program, the Landmarks Illinois Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side. Visit our website to learn more about each grant program and our 2021 grant recipients.


  • The 2021 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois was released in May this year and called attention to eight Illinois historic sites as well as Green Book sites throughout the state of Illinois. Landmarks Illinois announced this year’s list via a virtual press conference, a first for the organization. You can watch the announcement here. Or, learn more about each 2021 Most Endangered site at our website.


  • Landmarks Illinois welcomed members throughout the state to its virtual 2021 Annual Meeting on June 23. The meeting included highlights of our preservation successes and events during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the appointments of new Landmarks Illinois Board Members and a presentation of our new Guiding Principles and other accomplishments of our 50th Anniversary Task Force. Watch the event here. You can also download our 2020-2021 Annual Report here.


  • The 2021 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards took place October 22, 2021, at the Davis Theater in Chicago. The event welcomed both an in-person audience and a virtual one. The evening celebrated the nine, 2021 award-winning projects and the people who made them possible. (See photos here.) Additionally, to honor the memory and creative spirit of the late Richard H. Driehaus, Landmarks Illinois’ longtime partner in preservation, Landmarks Illinois presented a special Richard H. Driehaus Legacy Award for Innovation to Cristo Rey St. College Prep. Watch a recording of the ceremony here. And, learn about our nine award-winning projects here.


  • Landmarks Illinois Skyline Council held a number of engaging activities and events this past year, from a heart bombing of Roberts Temple in February to a Pub Crawl & Neighborhood Tour in Logan Square in September. Members of the young & emerging professional committee also participated in Habitat for Humanity of Chicago’s Women Build Day events in October to help install siding on a home in West Pullman. Also this year, the Skyline Council, in partnership with the Landmarks Illinois Board of Directors, launched a new mentorship program in the spring where board members are serving as mentors to Skyline members seeking further professional development.


  • The Landmarks Illinois Real Estate and Building Industries Council celebrated the transformation of the long-vacant, former Cook County Hospital at a cocktail and networking reception the evening of November 30, 2021. The RBIC also hosted a highly attended 2021 Summer Education Series in July & August that included two virtual lunchtime educational seminars, networking time and an in-person tour of the Old Post Office. The seminars focused on sustainability and window replacement at historic buildings and featured panelists of preservation and building professionals. Watch the seminars here.


  • Landmarks Illinois continued its virtual Preservation Snapshots Lectures in 2021, hosting five lunchtime lectures on such topics as environmental justice at Chicago’s Altgeld Gardens, Landmarks Illinois’ Guiding Principles and 2021 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award-winning project, Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep. Watch all the lectures at our Preservation Snapshots YouTube playlist.


  • In July, Landmarks Illinois was the proud recipient of a 2021 Route History, Inc. Business Award from Route History in Springfield. Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald and Landmarks Illinois Board Member & Springfield preservation architect Mike Jackson were in Springfield July 9 to accept the award on behalf of the organization and celebrate Route History’s reopening. Learn more about the award and Route History.


  • Landmarks Illinois held a handful of in-person special events and tours for its donors and members during 2021, brining them to historic places like the Pullman National Monument, the Old Cook County Hospital Operating Theater and on a walking tour of downtown Chicago to discuss public woks of art currently under consideration by the Chicago Monuments Project. Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald co-chaired the Chicago Monuments Project advisory panel that was created in 2020.



  • In memoriam: Landmarks Illinois and the entire Illinois preservation community sadly lost a number of preservation champions during 2021, including Robert Meers, Steve Thompson, Timuel D. Black Jr. and Richard H. Driehaus.

MEERS, a real-estate developer, was a Landmarks Illinois Board Member in the 70s and 80s and led the rehabilitation of notable landmarks including the Monadnock Building and Lake Forest’s Market Square.

THOMPSON had a long career at the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office and served as a Regional Advisor for Landmarks Illinois. He was dedicated to preserving places in Coles County and also gave his time as a preservation consultant and a community preservation advocate.

BLACK, who Landmarks Illinois named a Legendary Landmark in 2020, was an acclaimed civil rights leader, educator, historian, author and WWII veteran who devoted his life to promoting African American history. In 2020, we created a new grant fund in celebration of his life and work, the Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side, which provides small grants to support planning and capital projects that work to preserve and promote the history, culture and architecture of Chicago’s South Side.

DRIEHAUS, a generous philanthropist, had a large impact on preservation in Illinois and the nation. Since 1994 his foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, supported Landmarks Illinois’ annual awards program. At the 2021 award ceremony, Landmarks Illinois honored Driehaus with a video tribute.


We look forward to sharing more of our work with you in the New Year!

Download the entire 2021 Year-in-Review below.

2021 Year in Review

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