Preservation News Roundup: 2023 Year in Review


Welcome to our year-end roundup of Landmarks Illinois’ major advocacy efforts, projects, programs and events. Thank you to all our partners, on-the-ground advocates, members and supporters for joining us in 2023 as we helped people across Illinois save special places that matter to them and their community.


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Landmarks Illinois’ five-year effort to save the Ebony Test Kitchen results in partnership with Smithsonian

Our five-year effort to save the Ebony Test Kitchen culminated this year with the donation of the kitchen to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The project also received national recognition from Docomomo US.

In June, we announced that Landmarks Illinois had donated the kitchen to the NMAAHC in Washington, D.C., to be part of its permanent collection. Later this year, in November, Landmarks Illinois received an Advocacy Award of Excellence from Docomomo US for the Ebony Test Kitchen preservation effort.

Saving the Ebony Test Kitchen from the former Johnson Publishing Company Building in Chicago — an effort that began in 2018 — has become one of Landmarks Illinois’ biggest preservation success stories in its 52-year history. Having the kitchen showcased in the future at the NMAAHC is an incredibly suitable way to celebrate its significant place in our nation’s history. It was also an honor to be recognized at the national level for our role in saving the iconic kitchen.

Click below to watch a short video about the years-long effort to preserve the Ebony Test Kitchen.


Reinvestment Program receives $1 million from the Driehaus Foundation

Landmarks Illinois received a generous $1 million grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation in July to help provide more and larger low-interest loans through its Reinvestment Program Loan Fund. Landmarks Illinois’ Reinvestment Program Loan Fund is the only low-interest loan program of its kind that specifically supports historic preservation in our state. It also provides more accessible lending terms where unconventional financing may be unavailable, making the reinvestment and reuse of our historic places more attainable to more people.

The substantial grant from the Driehaus Foundation makes it possible for Landmarks Illinois to exponentially increase its capacity to lend to preservation projects. Learn more about the impact of this grant and our Reinvestment Program below. (Pictured: (Reinvestment Loan Fund recipient Greater Chatham Initiative celebrates its “Artists on the 9” ribbon-cutting event in 2022.)

Want to learn if you are eligible for a Reinvestment Program Loan? Visit our website or email Suzanne Germann, Landmarks Illinois Director of Reinvestment, at


Learn more

Landmarks Illinois publishes The Relevancy Guidebook

In November, Landmarks Illinois published “The Relevancy Guidebook: How We Can Transform the Future of Preservation,” written by Landmarks Illinois President and CEO Bonnie McDonald. Based on interviews with 130 preservation professionals and advocates in the United States, its territories and members of tribal nations, the guidebook identifies the preservation field’s current challenges; presents ways to make it more equitable, inclusive and just; and provides actionable solutions to enhance its relevance in a changing world.

“Historic places reflect our culture, traditions and achievements. What we choose to save speaks to our values and beliefs,” McDonald said in a press release. “But for too long, preservation has prioritized structures and preciousness over the people and communities using and connected to these historic places. Because of this, the stories and places we have preserved have not fully reflected our diverse society, and the historic places that have been destroyed have often untethered communities. Saving these places can help maintain a vital connection between generations and be a source of recognition, pride and hope to a community. While this is changing, we must help more people save places that matter to them and their communities for preservation to be truly relevant,”

“The Relevancy Guidebook” is available to all via a free download at the Landmarks Illinois website.

Read the Relevancy Guidebook

2023 Success Story: Illinois Historic Tax Credit Extended

Landmarks Illinois celebrated the news in May that the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation extending and expanding the Illinois Historic Preservation Tax Credit (IL-HTC). The news came after spending months advocating in Springfield for the tax incentive alongside our partners at AIA Illinois. Originally set to expire at the end of 2023, the credit is now extended through 2028 and provides $25 million a year to qualified preservation projects (up from $15 million).

Since taking effect in 2019, following a decade of Landmarks Illinois advocacy, the IL-HTC has created thousands of jobs, prevented unnecessary building material waste, brought needed affordable housing to market and encouraged hundreds of millions of private investment in Illinois’ historic places. Continuing this program beyond 2023 makes economic and environmental sense and will help foster lively and sustainable communities Illinois residents are proud to call home. (Pictured: L-R: Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski, Sen. Steve Stadelman and Landmarks Illinois Board Chair Gary Anderson at the Illinois State Capitol in March.)

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Landmarks Illinois awards nearly $100K in grants during 2023

This year, Landmarks Illinois awarded a total of $99,650 in matching grants through its four grant programs: the Preservation Heritage FundBarbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund for IllinoisLandmarks Illinois Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side and the Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program.

Landmarks Illinois grant funding is used toward preserving historic and significant places in communities throughout the state. Often, these small grants help spark community engagement around the preservation of a place and help boost local fundraising efforts for the preservation project.

Visit our website to learn about all 2023 grant recipients.

Applications for the next round of 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!

(Pictured: A check presentation in October at the historic Andresen’s Café in Johnston City, recipient of a Landmarks Illinois Banterra Bank Preserve Southern Illinois Grant Program)

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Ongoing effort to save one of Illinois’ most iconic, brutalist buildings: the Will County Courthouse

One of our biggest ongoing advocacy efforts of 2023 was around the former Will County Courthouse in Joliet, an exceptionally unique Brutalist building included on Landmarks Illinois’ 2022 Most Endangered list. At the start of the year and as the building remained threatened with demolition, Landmarks Illinois and the Courthouse Preservation Partnership issued an exploratory Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI), asking qualified developers and architectural firms to share their potential reuse visions for the vacant building. In March, we shared the six responses we received with the Will County Board, in hopes it would encourage the county to release an official Request for Proposals for the courthouse’s reuse.

More attention was brought to the building in February when Landmarks Illinois’ young and emerging professionals committee, the Skyline Council, partnered with the Courthouse Preservation Partnership to host a heart bomb event just ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Another positive development in the courthouse’s preservation: The building was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination process was led by Preservation Futures and supported by Landmarks Illinois and the Courthouse Preservation Partnership.

Despite the building’s significance being recognized through a National Register listing, widespread public support for its preservation and its extensive reuse potential, Will County officials have continued to pursue demolition. Late this year, demolition crews moved on to the site to prepare to begin the process of tearing down the building.

Landmarks Illinois has remained committed throughout 2023 to push for the preservation of this significant structure and will continue to do so in the New Year if the opportunity arises. Thank you to everyone who joined our efforts to bring attention to the former Will County Courthouse this year and who continues to support our fight to preserve the building.

2023 Most Endangered Updates

Baxter International Headquarters - Deerfield

The Midcentury Modern corporate campus, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Baxter, faced demolition from a company that wanted to purchase the property to build new logistics facilities. Months after listing the architecturally significant campus designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and following large public opposition to redeveloping the site, Baxter, a healthcare company, announced it would keep and reinvest in the property instead.

Damen Silos - Chicago

Demolition was delayed this year at the Damen Silos in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood. An asphalt company planned to demolish the 1906 former grain silos. Ongoing advocacy efforts that amplified environmental concerns and widespread community opposition prompted a federal review of the site and potential redevelopment plans. Landmarks Illinois expects consultation with advocates and neighborhood residents to take place in the New Year.

Century & Consumers Buildings - Chicago

In December, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted unanimously to recommend Chicago Landmark designation for the architecturally and historically significant, terra cotta-clad skyscrapers. Throughout the year, Landmarks Ilinois has also continued to participate in public and private meetings to advocate for the preservation and reuse of the skyscrapers located prominently on Chicago’s State Street. The landmark designation will next be considered by the Chicago City Council.

Alexander Brothers Blacksmith Shop - Geneva

The 180-year-old local landmark – listed on our Most Endangered in 2023 and 2018 – faced growing demolition threats this year. However, in September, the Geneva City Council unanimously voted to deny a demolition permit from the building’s owner, the Shodeen Family Foundation. The owner has since filed a suit asking a Kane County judge to remove the landmark designation and allow demolition of the site, meaning the fight to preserve the historically significant building is not over. However, at the moment, demolition is not permitted. Landmarks Illinois will continue to provide updates on the site in 2024.

Richmond Bridge - Richmond

The bridge is one of the last wooden bridges constructed in Richmond’s early settlement years in the mid-1800s. However, a lack of maintenance and no preservation plan led to Landmarks Illinois including it this year on its Most Endangered list. Following that listing, the Village of Richmond conducted cleanup and maintenance work on the bridge, including removing graffiti, as local advocates from the W.A. McConnell Foundation reported.

Additional Most Endangered updates

  • Restoration efforts on the Millstadt Water Tower, a 2014 Most Endangered site, were completed this year. Advocates with the Friends of the Old Millstadt Water Tower local organization celebrated the completion in September. The decade-long effort to preserve the tin-man-style tower was supported not just through Landmarks Illinois’ Most Endangered program but also through the Preservation Heritage Fund Grant Program.
    • The Broadview Hotel in East St. Louis, listed in 2021, took a big step toward rehabilitation this year. In March, Landmarks Illinois Regional Advocacy Manager Quinn Adamowski attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the New Broadview project, which will transform the once-threatened former hotel into senior affordable housing. Read more in our March news roundup.
      • Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Manager Kendra Parzen worked with West Chicago Elementary School District 33 staff this year to rehabilitate the former McAuley Schoolhouse, listed in 2014. Landmarks Illinois helped facilitate a pro bono space and site planning analysis by AltusWorks and a conditions assessment by Klein & Hoffman and Berglund Construction for the property, both of which will help the school district in its effort to reuse the century-old schoolhouse as a community center for parent education. Work is expected to begin in the summer of 2024. Read more in our March and June news roundups.
        • Good news in Glenview this year: Developers withdrew a proposal to demolish the architecturally significant former Scott Foresman Headquarters, a 2021 Most Endangered site. Core Spaces had proposed replacing the existing midcentury modern campus with apartments but faced opposition not just from the preservation community, but local residents.
          • 2022 Most Endangered Site, Gillson Park in Wilmette, is one step closer to National Register designation. In October, the Illinois Historic Sites Advocacy Committee (IHSAC) voted unanimously to recommend the Prairie-style park along Lake Michigan to the National Register of Historic Places. Read more in our October news roundup. IHSAC also supported two other National Register nominations: one for Downtown Joliet’s Historic District and a nomination for multiple properties associated with the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party.

          Former Most Endangered sites become landmarks in 2023

          • The Muddy Waters House in Chicago’s North Kenwood neighborhood, a 2013 Most Endangered site, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places at the beginning of 2023. The MOJO Museum is rehabilitating the once-endangered property to celebrate blues legend Muddy Waters, who purchased the brick two-flat in 1954 and lived in it until the 1970s. The project has received funding from Landmarks Illinois’ Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side. Sharing the news of the National Register designation was Landmarks Illinois’ top Instagam and Facebook posts of the year!
            • This year, 2004 Most Endangered site, Promontory Point in Chicago, became a Chicago Landmark. The designation, approved in April, is a major milestone in the decades-long fight to preserve Promontory Point’s limestone revetment, the last piece of limestone revetment along Chicago’s shoreline.
              • 2002 Most Endangered site, Old Joliet Prison in Joliet, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The architecturally significant prison has received major preservation support in recent years: In 2002 it received a $3 million Federal Community Project Grant to help stabilize its administration building. And, an additional $3.5 million grant from the State of Illinois helped other preservation work at the site.
                • Another former Most Endangered site, St. Adalbert in Chicago (listed in 2016) was given preliminary Chicago Landmark status this year. Read more in our August news roundup.
                  • Learn more about our Most Endangered program at our website. We are also taking nominations for our 2024 Most Endangered list now through January 12!

                    (Pictured: Clockwise from top left: Muddy Waters House, Promontory Point, Old Joliet Prison, St. Adalbert)

                    nominate a site!

                  Additional new landmarks

                  In addition to some former Most Endangered sites becoming landmarks, as listed in the previous section, we also are celebrating more historic places across the state receiving landmarks designation.

                  • Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument: In July, 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. A month later, Landmarks Illinois joined community partners, elected officials and the National Park Service at the historic church on Chicago’s South Side to celebrate the new monument. Read more in our August news roundup.

                  New preservation easement protects historic Logan Square greystone & sideyard

                  At the start of the year, we celebrated our newest preservation easement on the Jefferson Ice House, a prominent historic Greystone at 3024 W. Logan Boulevard in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.

                  The easement protects the historically significant property, which includes a side yard, in perpetuity. The single-family home was built in 1908 for the family of John E. Rustman, the president of nearby Jefferson Ice Company. It was designed by local architect John Ahlschlager and features elements of the Richardsonian Romanesque and Beaux Arts architectural styles. The house is listed as a contributing structure to the Logan Square Boulevards Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more about Landmarks Illinois Preservation Easements here.

                  (Pictured: Andrew Schneider (left) and David Berkey in front of the Jefferson Ice House in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. The two donated a preservation easement to Landmarks Illinois, which protects the historic property in perpetuity.)

                  Learn more

                  Preservation Awards mark 30th Anniversary

                  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. See photos from the event here. Click below to learn about the 2023 award recipients. (Pictured: 2023 award winners from Bloomhaven Innovative Living Community in Aurora accept their award at our ceremony on October 27.)

                  2023 Award Winners

                  Additional Landmarks Illinois preservation news

                  • In March, Landmarks Illinois held the 2023 Preservation Forward spring fundraising event at The Old Post Office. More than 700 guests joined us to honor our 2023 Landmarks Illinois Influencers and helped raise more than $730,000 for Landmarks Illinois’ mission-driven work! See photos of the event here. You can also watch videos on our 2023 Landmarks Illinois Influencers and their inspiring work here.
                  • Landmarks Illinois added two new staff members in 2023: Leila Wills, Programs Manager, and Lauren Dalton, Marketing and Communications Manager. Along with leading the 2023 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards, Leila has led our Preservation Snapshots series this year. Watch them here. Lauren has brought her marketing expertise to help expand Landmarks Illinois’ reach and implement new marketing and communications strategies. Among the new projects she has led since coming on board in August is Landmarks Illinois’ 2023 Giving Tuesday video.
                  • Landmarks Illinois also said goodbye to a longtime member of the team, Tiffanie Williams. Tiffanie joined the staff in 2014, serving first as Events Manager and then as Director of Corporate Giving and Events. We wish Tiffanie well in her future endeavors!

                  Read the full 2023 Year-In-Review Preservation News Roundup:

                  2023 Year In Review

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