Preservation News Roundup: August 2019

The monthly Landmarks Illinois News Roundup fills you in on the top preservation news stories from the month as well as LI’s 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.

Landmarks Illinois announces recipients of 2019 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards

On Wednesday, LI announced the nine award-winning preservation projects it will honor at this year’s Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards, taking place Friday, October 18. Visit our website to see the full list of award recipients and learn about the people who made each outstanding project possible.

Registration for the 2019 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards Ceremony is now open. LI will also host a awards panel discussion the evening prior to the ceremony, on Thursday, October 17. Details and registration are available at our website.

(Photo: Inside the Ford House in Aurora. The home’s owner, Sidney Robinson, is being honored with a 2019 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Stewardship. Credit: John Waters)

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LI, local advocates form 'Save Our State Farm Building' committee to prevent demolition of Bloomington building

Frank Butterfield, Director of LI’s Springfield Office, this month joined local community leaders, including the mayors of Bloomington and Normal, business owners and residents to create the Save Our State Farm Building committee aimed at preventing demolition and sparking reuse of the 90-year-old landmark, which formerly served as State Farm’s headquarters. The 13-story building is part of the downtown National Register Historic District and underwent a $12.5 million rehabilitation project in 2004, receiving $2.5 million in Federal Historic Tax Credits under the ownership of State Farm. State Farm announced recently it would demolish the historic Art Deco building.

Read more in the news:

Advocates Seek To Save State Farm Building Amid Uncertain Timeline
WGLT, August 26

Group Seeks Private Development To Save State Farm Building
WGLT, August 12

Group Aims To Save Downtown State Farm Building
WGLT, August 2

LI & National Trust release joint statement regarding Thompson Center Sale

Earlier this week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced his administration would issue an RFQ for project management expertise for the sale of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago’s Loop. This is a major step toward a sale of the iconic, Post-Modern building LI has included on its Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois for the past three years.

In response to the news, LI and the National Trust for Historic Preservation issued a joint statement urging the governor to include Landmarks Illinois’ re-envisioning study, “Thomspon Center Reimagined,” for the James R. Thompson Center in the RFQ. Released in 2018 and developed in coordination with Thompson Center architect Helmut Jahn, the reuse study demonstrates the feasibility for the state-owned building to be rehabilitated and reused in the private market.

(Photo: Thompson Center reuse rendering, produced by visualizedconcepts)

Read more in the news:

Pritzker moves to sell Thompson Center: Landmarks Illinois urges state to take steps toward preservation
One Illinois, August 29

Pritzker, State A Step Closer To Sale Of Thompson Center
CBS Chicago, August 28

What fate lies ahead for the James R. Thompson Center? The state of Illinois is taking the first steps to finally sell the controversial Loop building.
Chicago Tribune, August 28

Read the statement

LI again pushes for preservation of two protected Oak Park properties

On Monday, August 27, Landmarks Illinois was at an Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission public hearing to voice opposition again to the proposal from the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust (FLWT) to move, demo and/or alter two properties within the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District. LI was joined by representatives of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, as well as many preservation and architecture professionals and Oak Park residents to object to the proposal, which seeks to demolish or move 925 Chicago Ave. and alter 931 Chicago Ave. to make way for a new FLWT visitor center. LI and other advocates are primarily concerned with the bad precedent such action would set in Oak Park should the FLWT be allowed to move, alter or even demolish properties that, in theory, are protected under the city’s historic preservation ordinance.

At this week’s meeting, the Oak Park Historic Preservation unanimously voted to deny a certificate of appropriateness to the FLWT for its requests concerning both properties. The FLWT has 15 days from denial date to appeal the decision to the Oak Park Village Board, and the Village Board has 45 days to schedule the matter at a village board meeting from the time of receiving an appeal request.

Read LI’s full statement below, given by Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera at the meeting. You can also read the National Trust’s statement here, and that from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.

How can you help? We encourage Oak Park residents to reach out to the Village Board objecting to the demolition or removal of 925 Chicago Ave. and alteration of 931 Chicago Ave. to make way for the proposed visitor center. LI believes a center can be designed and constructed on the site without causing adverse impact to these protected historic properties.

(Photo: 925 Chicago Ave. in Oak Park, which the FLWT has proposed to demolish or move to make way for a new visitor center.)

Read more in the news:

Oak Park historic commission rejects proposal for new Frank Lloyd Wright visitor center
Chicago Tribune, August 29

Alternative proposal floated for Frank Lloyd Wright center
Wednesday Journal, Aug 26

Read LI's Statement

Skyline Council Summer event, Chair featured in Classic Chicago Magazine

The Skyline Council of Landmarks Illinois held its annual summer networking event, the Skyline Mixer, August 15 at The Alfred. The popular event attracted more than 150 young professionals and other supporters to the former historic Hartmann Building in Chicago’s Loop, which has been redeveloped by Cedar Street Companies. See event photos, taken by Skyline Council Member Lewis Purdy, here. You also also read about The Alfred and learn about renting here.

Classic Chicago Magazine covered the event and talked to Skyline Council Chair Allison Toonen-Talamo, of Klein & Hoffman, about LI’s young preservationists committee and its passion for saving places. Read the story below.

(Photo: Members of the Skyline Council at the Summer Mixer. Credit: Lewis Purdy)

Read the article



  • Director of LI’s Springfield Office Frank Butterfield attended an August 24 rededication ceremony of the 1851 Carpenter Shop at Bishop Hill, a project LI supported with a 2017 Preservation Heritage Fund grant. Hosted by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association, the event celebrated the restoration of one of the oldest brick buildings in the National Historic Landmark district. Read about the project here.





  • Another piece of good news: Plans to reuse a former LI Most Endangered site, the Kendall County Sheriff’s Residence & Jail in Yorkville, are progressing. The Yorkville City Council unanimously approved the sale of the historic property to KCJ Restoration LLC, which plans to renovate and reuse the jail and residence. LI included the jail and residence on its 2003 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois and most recently had been actively involved with local advocates in successfully persuading the city to issue a Request for Proposals for its reuse rather than to pursue demolition.


  • LI Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera and Board Member Joshua Freedland of WJE visited the Harley Clarke Mansion during an open house for parties interested in responding to the City of Evanston’s Request for Proposals for the property’s long-term lease, rehabilitation and reuse. WJE was on site to revise its previously produced condition assessment for the mansion and coach house on behalf of Landmarks Illinois that will soon be available on our website for all interested parties. Next open houses are schedule for September 3, 4 and 5.


  • Lisa DiChiera and LI President & CEO Bonnie McDonald participated in public meetings this month associated with the Section 106 regulatory review process for the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. A federal review determined the proposed Obama Center would have an adverse effect on the historic integrity of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park.


  • Lisa DiChiera continues to work with Chicago residents of the 1000 block of S. Claremont to designate the block a Chicago Landmark District. The block is home to early Chicago cottages, a disappearing building type in our city. A public hearing is scheduled for September 9 for anyone interested in voicing support for protecting this important area. A cottage in the proposed district at 1025 S. Claremont is currently for sale and in need of a buyer interested in taking on a rehab.


You can download the entire August 2019 Landmarks Illinois Preservation News e-newsletter here:

August 2019 Newsletter

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