Preservation News Roundup: JANUARY 2020

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.

Landmarks Illinois celebrates MLK Day at historic De Priest building in Bronzeville

Landmarks Illinois hosted a community celebration on Martin Luther King Day to honor the civil rights activist Oscar Stanton De Priest and mark the completion of a restoration project at his former home in Bronzeville in Chicago. The January 20 event included a ceremonial ribbon cutting outside the eight-flat apartment building, a National Historic Landmark. Current building owner Kimberly Echols, who inherited the building from her mother, talked about her personal connection to the building and its importance to the community.

The restoration project led by Landmarks Illinois included much-needed roof and masonry repairs at the building thanks to a $250,000 grant from the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grant Program. Landmarks Illinois contracted with local architecture firm Bauer Latoza Studios to serve as project manager and worked with Bruno’s Tuckpointing and Ridgeworth Roofing on the repairs.

Many local residents gathered at the January 20 event to hear about the project and to support Echols and her efforts to preserve the building and the history in her neighborhood. Landmarks Illinois was also joined by Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell and members of the project team. The event continued at the nearby Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church where attendees were treated to tours of the historic church that was recently approved for final landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Sip & Savor also provided coffee and pastries.

(Photo: Landmarks Illinois, project partners and community supporters join Kimberly Echols in cutting the ribbon outside the Oscar Stanton De Priest Apartment Building on January 20.)


Read more in the news:

Bronzeville Home Of Chicago’s First Black Alderman, Oscar Stanton De Priest, Restored To Its Former Glory
Block Club Chicago, January 21


Landmarks Illinois joins partners in voicing opposition to possible demo in Springfield's historic district

Landmarks Illinois, AIA Illinois and the Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation jointly responded to a proposal in Springfield that could lead to demolition of 17 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The proposal comes from the Springfield-Sangamon Growth Alliance and seeks to build new facilities for the University of Illinois at Springfield and Southern Illinois University within Springfield’s historic district. Landmarks Illinois and the two other partner nonprofits wrote a letter to the editor, published in the Illinois Times on January 16, voicing opposition to the proposed plan that includes tearing down significant structures, many of which house small businesses. “Tearing down these places is not the best path toward creating a university presence in downtown Springfield,” the letter states.

We understand the desire to bring university campus buildings and students to downtown Springfield and, if done correctly, could be beneficial. Rather than demolish existing significant structures, Landmarks Illinois is urging the schools and SSGA to pursue adaptive reuse of historic buildings along with new construction on the large amount of vacant and surface parking lots that already exist within the district. The partner organizations together with Downtown Springfield, Inc., the local Main Street organization, continue to work on alternative approaches to accommodate a downtown university presence.

“A university presence, strategically planned, has the potential to be an economic engine supporting the continued revitalization of our downtown,” the letter to the editor states. “With an emphasis on creativity and innovation, planning efforts should prioritize repurposing historic buildings and converting vacant lots into new landmarks. Instead of requiring a new university enclave, student and administrative buildings can integrate into the existing downtown, creating a vibrant urban environment where people want to live, work, play and learn.”

(Photo: An aerial image created by Landmarks Illinois of Springfield’s historic district identifies in yellow all parking lots and empty lots within the district’s boundaries.)


Read more in the news:

Preliminary plan for downtown university campus emerges
The State Journal-Register, December 4


Solution to save Most Endangered site in Glencoe progresses

Glencoe village officials and local preservationists are working together on a creative solution to prevent the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Booth Cottage in the northern suburb from being demolished. This month, the Glencoe Park District proposed a land use agreement with the Glencoe Historical Society that would involve moving the unique, 1913 cottage (which Landmarks Illinois included on its 2019 Most Endangered Historic Places) to public park land. The proposed deal — approved by the park district’s Board of Commissioners at a public meeting on January 21 — offers a 99-year land lease of a small portion of “Park 7N” to the Glencoe Historical Society for the price of $1 per year. The historical society has the needed funds to move the Booth Cottage from its current location at 239 Franklin St. to the park land less than a block away. The Glencoe Historical Society plans minimal public use for the cottage, and its restoration is the first priority.

The cottage currently faces the threat of being torn down if not moved as its new owners have applied for a demo permit with the village. Landmarks Illinois joined local advocates and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy at the January 21 public meeting in Glencoe, voicing support for the proposed land-use agreement to facilitate and save the Booth Cottage.

“Losing anything Wright designed — even the modest cottage, a flat-roofed, one-story frame house built in 1913 for prominent lawyer and real estate developer Sherman Booth — would harm our ability to fully tell his story,” Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic Blair Kamin wrote in a January 24 column.

(Photo: The Booth Cottage in Glencoe. Credit: Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy)


Read more in the news:

Column: A win for Frank Lloyd Wright fans: In Glencoe, a threatened cottage by the great architect will be moved to a park
Chicago Tribune, January 24

Glencoe Park Board: Board approves Frank Lloyd Wright Booth Cottage relocation
The Glencoe Anchor, January 23

Glencoe Park District approves lease agreement that clears way for relocation of endangered Frank Lloyd Wright cottage
Chicago Tribune, January 22

Registration opens & honorees announced for 2020 Legendary Landmarks Celebration

Landmarks Illinois is now accepting reservations for the 2020 Legendary Landmarks Celebration on March 5 at the Hilton Chicago. The annual event, which serves as the organization’s largest fundraiser, pays tribute to cultural and civic leaders in Chicago and Illinois.

This year, Landmarks Illinois will honor Timuel D. Black Jr., civil rights leader and educator; Joseph P. Gromacki, Senior Partner of Jenner & Block LLP; and Matthew and Daniel Walsh, Co-Chairmen of The Walsh Group, at the event. The evening will be emceed by Second City and Saturday Night Live alum Tim Kazurinsky and include dinner, drinks, networking and a program demonstrating Landmarks Illinois’ impact on preservation throughout the state as well as fitting tributes to the 2020 Legendary Landmarks Honorees.

“Whether it’s bringing forward stories of the struggle for civil rights, connecting people with resources or training them with new skills, our 2020 honorees shape our city — and its history — by investing in others,” said Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois President & CEO. “Landmarks Illinois is proud to honor their work as a model for others.”

Learn more about the 2020 Legendary Landmarks Celebration, our 2020 Honorees and how to register for the event.



What else LI has been up to this month...

  • Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera joined architecture journalist Anjulie Rao at the January 22 Commission on Chicago Landmarks’ Program Committee meeting to propose 2413 W. Jackson St., one of the last known standing buildings in the city with ties to the Black Panther Party, as a property to consider for future designation as a Chicago Landmark.
  • Frank Butterfield, Landmarks Illinois Springfield Office Director, participated in a panel discussion January 28 in Collinsville focused on the Illinois State Historic Tax Credit program. The event was hosted by the Urban Land Institute’s Young Leaders.
  • Director of Grants & Easements Suzanne Germann participated in a meeting January 21 in Englewood where residents discussed ongoing efforts to create the City of Chicago’s first Neighborhood Character District to protect their unique homes in the neighborhood. Through the Cornerstones for Community Program, in partnership with Neighborhood Housing Services, Landmarks Illinois has been working with the Englewood neighbors to protect the historic properties along Harvard and Yale Avenues. This effort, years in the making, was the subject of a student video project Landmarks Illinois produced in 2017.
  • Landmarks Illinois organized a special tour inside Old Cook County Hospital led by The Walsh Group on January 23. Landmarks Illinois Board Members, Skyline Council Members and supporters were able to see progress of the rehabilitation project transforming the long vacant historic building into a hotel. Block Club Chicago reporter Mauricio Peña also attended the tour and wrote this article on the project.
  • Landmarks Illinois Board Vice Chair Gary Anderson was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. Please join us in congratulating Gary on this accomplishment!
  • Elgin City Council nominated the David C. Cook Building — a property Landmarks Illinois included on its 2008/09 Chicagoland Watchlist — for potential landmark status. The 1901 building faces a demolition threat from its owners who does not support landmark designation. With wide community support, this is the first time Elgin has nominated a property for landmarking without owner consent.
  • Landmarks Illinois is celebrating the completed restoration of the Blake Hawk Statue in Oregon, a 109-year-old concrete monument standing 48 feet tall in Lowden State Park. Landmarks Illinois has been advocating to preserve the unique statue designed by Loredo Taft since including it on our 2016 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. See more photos of the restored statue here.
  • Landmarks Illinois has been assisting in the effort to create a new, multiple property historic district in Chicago to protect more than a dozen of the city’s oldest low-rise buildings on the Near North Side, which continue to be at risk due to high-rise development. “The buildings selected here are representative of the beautiful and elegant residential architecture that lined these streets over 100 years ago,” Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera said at the January 16 meeting. The commission will next consider the district at its February 6 meeting. If given final recommendation, it will head to the City Council for final approval. Read the preliminary historic district designation report here.
  • Landmarks Illinois was saddened by the start of demolition of the historic Ravenswood Club Building, most recently the Truc Lam Buddhist Temple, in Chicago. Landmarks Illinois included the site on our 2005 Chicagoland Watch List. In 2017, Landmarks Illinois also organized a site assessment by Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., which confirmed that despite the building’s deferred maintenance, there were limited conditions to suggest that the building could not be readily rehabilitated. Regardless, without protection of the property, it was sold to a buyer planning replacement.
  • Another historic site in Illinois the Oakdale Tabernacle, which Landmarks Illinois called attention to on our 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, faces demolition. The Oakdale Park District will begin accepting bids to tear down the unique structure beginning in February. The tabernacle remains the only surviving structurally sound enclosed tabernacle in Illinois. Landmarks Illinois continues to work with local advocates to find a preservation solution. Learn more about these efforts at a website created by local advocates,
  • The City of Evanston’s February deadlines for respondents to the Harley Clarke Mansion RFP is fast approaching. The last day to submit questions is February 12, and last day to submit an RFP is February 28. The city is seeking to enter into a long-term lease of the mansion and its coach house to a party that will renovate the property and incorporate a public use as a meaningful component of its proposal. The Harley Clarke Mansion was included on Landmarks Illinois’ 2016 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.=
  • Landmarks Illinois hosted Tom Mayes of the National Trust for Historic Preservation at a Preservation Snapshots Lecture on January 22. Mayes discussed findings of his new book, “Why Old Places Matter.” Mayes also presented at the Landmarks Illinois Board of Directors Meeting on January 21. (Check out other upcoming Preservation Snapshots Lectures)
  • Landmarks Illinois hosted a one-day workshop in partnership with the International Masonry Institute on January 31 focused on restoration of interior tile, mosaics and ornamental plastering. Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald attended on the organization’s behalf.
  • Landmarks Illinois young and emerging professionals committee the Skyline Council hosted its annual Two nights of Trivia events January 28 and 29 at Revolution Brewing in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Thanks to everyone who came out to play and support the Skyline Council! Stay tuned for photos of the event in the coming days!

You can download the entire January 2020 Landmarks Illinois Preservation News e-newsletter here:

January 2020 Preservation News Roundup

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