Below is a roundup of Illinois preservation news stories for the month of February 2019 and updates on some of Landmarks Illinois’ major advocacy efforts. You can also receive these monthly news roundups directly in your inbox by signing up for our newsletters at the bottom of the page.

LI files lawsuit in Rock Island to stop unlawful demolition of historic courthouse

Landmarks Illinois, along with five other plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit this month against the Rock Island Public Building Commission (PBC) and the Rock Island County Board to protect the historic Rock Island County Courthouse from unlawful demolition. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed February 6 and amended February 22, are Landmarks Illinois, Rock Island Preservation Society, Moline Preservation Society, Rock Island Justice Center bondholder Fred Shaw and Rock Island resident Diane Oestreich.

The suit contends the county is not in compliance with state preservation law as it proceeds with efforts to tear down the historic courthouse, included on LI’s 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. The suit also points out the PBC’s possible illegal reallocation of publicly funded bonds and calls on the county to make a good-faith effort to find a reuse for the historically and architecturally significant courthouse.

In addition to the lawsuit, LI filed a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction February 7 in the 14th Circuit Court to temporarily halt demolition of the historic Rock Island County Courthouse. Filing the TRO and Injunction is a necessary legal step to stop any demolition action by the PBC and Board while the Compliant is being adjudicated. This TRO and Injunction has been reassigned to the 10th Circuit Court. LI will continue to provide updates as the lawsuit proceeds in court.

Press release: 

Read LI’s press release to learn more about this announcement and the lawsuit.

Press conference: 

Watch LI President & CEO Bonnie McDonald announce the news live at a press conference in Rock Island, February 6.

Letter to the Editor: 

Read LI’s Letter to the Editor, published February 19 in the Dispatch Argus.


Read more from the news: 

Courthouse Fight Escalates
WVIK, February 14

Courthouse Fight Assigned to Peoria County Judge
WVIK, February 14

Rock Island offering help to save courthouse, county says it’s too little too late
WQAD, February 11

Lawsuit filed to stop demolition of Rock Island courthouse
Associated Press, February 10

‘It’s not over’: Lawsuit filed against RI County in hopes of halting courthouse demolition
WHBF, February 7

Suit filed against Rock Island County to stop courthouse demolition
Dispatch Argus, February 6

LI issues RFP in search for new owner of iconic Ebony Test Kitchen

Landmarks Illinois is looking for a new owner for the one-of-a-kind former Johnson Publishing Company Test Kitchen, designed in 1971 by Palm Springs-based interior designers William Raiser and Arthur Elrod. The kitchen is where recipes were tested for publication in Ebony Magazine.

On February 12, LI issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from qualified institutions, organizations, corporations or other entities interested in accepting ownership of the former test kitchen and reassembling it for educational display or use.

Landmarks Illinois acquired the test kitchen in April 2018 for $1 from the developer converting the former Johnson Publishing Company building to residential use and, with the help of professional volunteers among its membership and from the Skyline Council of Landmarks Illinois, documented, carefully disassembled and removed the kitchen from the building. It has been safely kept in storage since.

Proposals are due May 1, 2019. Download LI’s RFP here.

Press Release:

Read LI’s press release on the RFP


Read more from the news: 

Ebony’s Test Kitchen Is for Sale
New York Times, February 12

Ebony’s 1970s Chicago test kitchen needs a new home: ‘These spaces are identifiably black spaces’
Chicago Tribune, February 14

Ebony Test Kitchen Seeks New Home
Architectural Digest, February 20

Psychedelic kitchen where Ebony Magazine tested recipes looking for new home
The Real Deal, February 16

LI's new short video tells story of the Underground Railroad in Illinois

Landmarks Illinois has released a short video focused on the Underground Railroad in Illinois. The roughly six-minute video, titled “People Saving Places: The Underground Railroad in Illinois,” was directed by University of Chicago student Catalina Parra and marks the second phase of LI’s student video program.

The new video successfully weaves together the collective history of three Illinois Underground Railroad sites: the Sheldon Peck Homestead in Lombard, the Owen Lovejoy Homestead in Princeton and Quinn Chapel in Chicago. The video tells the inspiring true stories of Illinois residents and abolitionists helping former slaves find freedom in the mid-19 century.

The recent video project was made possible thanks to generous funding from Illinois Humanities, the Richard and Julie Moe Family Fund, a fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Patricia Joseph.

A public premiere of “People Saving Places: The Underground Railroad in Illinois,” will take place Saturday, March 9, 2019, at Quinn Chapel in Chicago as part of Landmarks Illinois’ “Bringing the Underground Railroad Home” Preservation Snapshots Lecture. The lecture will be led by Jean Follett, historian, editor and historic preservation consultant, who is also featured in the video. Click here for more details on this event.


Press release:

Read LI’s press release announcing the new video.

Student Video Program:

Learn more about LI’s “People Saving Places” student video program, launched in 2016.

Meet the Filmmaker:

Read our interview with University Student Catalina Parra, Director of the new short video.

Watch the video


Landmarks Illinois hosts its 14th Annual Legendary Landmarks Celebration March 7 in Chicago. This year, Landmarks Illinois will honor Wintrust, Murphy Development Group and dedicated civic leaders Judith & Raymond McCaskey at the event. Read more about this annual celebration, the history of the event and Landmarks Illinois in former LI Board Member and Classic Chicago Magazine contributor Judy Bross’ feature article below:

Celebrating Legendary Landmarks
Classic Chicago Magazine, February 17

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