Preservation News Roundup: July 2021

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 honored with Business Award from Route History

Landmarks Illinois is 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. Landmarks Illinois earned the award for our “dedication and commitment to preservation, recognition and the renewal of historic businesses that were once economic engines, pillars and places of refuge in Black communities throughout the state of Illinois.”

Route History is a museum, visitor center and shop dedicated to sharing the often forgotten or unknown stories of African Americans along the historic highway and in the city of Springfield. Landmarks Illinois is also partnering with Route History to document remaining Green Book sites in Illinois as part of our 2021 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.

learn more about route history


We’re looking for a Regional Advocacy Manager! We seek a creative, organized and driven individual to work with local advocates to save and reuse our state’s rich architectural and cultural heritage, forge and strengthen strategic partnerships and to be Landmarks Illinois’ primary representative and spokesperson in downstate communities.

Interested in joining our team? Learn more about the position and how to apply below.


Fundraising efforts continue at 2021 Most Endangered site, the Klas Restaurant in Cicero

The Klas Museum, a nonprofit formed by Czech and Slovak community leaders, is fundraising for a multiphase restoration plan at the Klas Restaurant in Cicero. Landmarks Illinois included the former restaurant on its 2021 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois due to a demolition threat.

The Klas Museum hopes to raise $500,000 for purchasing and renovating the 1922 building that once served as a pillar of activity for the Slavic and Hispanic/Mexican American communities of Cicero/Berwyn and all of Chicagoland. If the group is able to purchase, restore and reopen the building, the new facility would include a restaurant, bar and event space while also providing exhibition space and programming reflective of the area’s multi-cultural, immigrant population, according to a Klas Museum press release. Landmarks Illinois’ Annual Corporate Sponsors Klein & Hoffman and Bulley & Andrews Masonry Restoration completed a condition assessment report on the building on Landmarks Illinois’ behalf, which will aid Klas advocates in the restoration of the property.

Read more in the news:

Ask Geoffrey: Cicero’s Klas Restaurant>
WTTW, July 29
What’s That Building? Klas Restaurant
WBEZ, July 22

Click below to see how you can support fundraising efforts to save the Klas Restaurant.

Support the Klas Museum


Landmarks Illinois’ Real Estate & Building Industries Council hosted two virtual education seminars in July as part of its 2021 Summer Education Series presented by Chase.

The seminars, “Integrating Sustainability in Historic Commercial Building,” held July 15, and “Window Replacement in Historic Commercial Buildings,” held July 21, are available to watch in full at the Landmarks Illinois YouTube Channel. Learn more about the series and seminar speakers here.

Education Seminars

Two Illinois historic sites receive grants through National Trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

Two historic sites Landmarks Illinois has been advocating for this year recently received grants through the National Trust for Historic Preservation African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago & Robbins Historical Society & Museum in Robbins, Illinois, were among 40 sites in the United States to receive grants through the special fund.

Roberts Temple in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood was the site of the 1955 open-casket funeral of Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered at the age of 14 while visiting family in Mississippi. Mamie Till-Mobley’s courageous choice to show her son’s body is seen as a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement. The historic and culturally significant church is in need of restoration, and Landmarks Illinois began partnering with the Roberts Temple congregation, the Mamie Till-Mobley Memorial Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation earlier this year on the preservation effort. Landmarks Illinois Annual Corporate Sponsor Berglund Construction was brought in to help assess the condition of the property, determine priority of repairs and develop a phased rehabilitation plan. The Skyline Council of Landmarks Illinois also led a heart bombing event at the church on Valentine’s Day weekend in February.

Earlier this year, in January, Landmarks Illinois awarded the Robbins Historical Society a Preservation Heritage Fund Grant to help the organization with restoration efforts at the historic S.B. Fuller Home. The house, located in one of the oldest incorporated African American communities in the United States and the oldest Black suburb in the Chicago area, was built in 1958 for entrepreneur S.B. Fuller, who owned multiple corporations, was the publisher of two newspapers, led the Chicago NAACP and served as president of the National Negro Business League, among other accomplishments.

Read more in the news:

Bronzeville Church That Held Emmett Till’s Funeral Gets $150K Grant For Renovation
Block Club Chicago, July 21

$3 Million in Grants Going to Black History Sites, Groups
WTTW, July 16

2 Chicago area African American landmarks awarded national grant
WLS, July 15

Emmett Till Funeral Site, Other Black Landmarks Share $3 Million Preservation Grant
NPR, July 15

Learn More


Landmarks Illinois released its Guiding Principles, which will act as Landmarks Illinois’ code of conduct in implementing its values and defining its vision for the future of preservation. The Guiding Principles were created by the Landmarks Illinois 50th Anniversary Task Force — a diverse group of 34 people who met monthly since 2019 to discuss preservation practices and how to create a preservation organization that is equitable, inclusive, diverse and accessible.

Landmarks Illinois will host a Preservation Snapshots Lecture this fall to discuss the Guiding Principles and address questions from our members and supporters. In the mean time, reach out to Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald with questions.

Read the guiding principles

Illinois preservation nonprofits share stories of the pandemic

Our July 7 Preservation Snapshots Lecture featured voices from four Landmarks Illinois COVID-19 Organization Relief Grant Recipients: the Firehouse Community Art Center in Chicago, Uptown United in Chicago, the McHenry County Historical Society in Union, and the Save the Lorraine Foundation in Hoopeston. Representatives from each nonprofit shared stories of how they continued to save historic places during a challenging year.

Watch the full lecture on our YouTube Channel.

Watch the lecture

Additional Landmarks Illinois news

  • Landmarks Illinois hosted a walking tour July 22 of select public artworks currently under review by the Chicago Monuments Project. Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald, who co-chairs the Chicago Monuments Advisory Committee, led the roughly two-mile guided tour in downtown Chicago that provided an overview of some of the 41 monuments the advisory committee identified earlier this year as problematic for how they represent history or perpetuate false narratives in ways that many people find offensive or inappropriate for memorialization. See photos of the tour here.
  • Two Illinois preservation efforts were awarded grant funding from National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grant Program this month: The Forum in Chicago (a Landmarks Illinois 2018 Most Endangered site & 2007 Preservation Heritage Fund grant recipient) & the City of Rock Island are among the latest recipients of the grant program. NPS announced it has awarded $15,035,000 million to 53 projects in 20 states. The Forum was awarded a $500,000 grant to help stabilize the building’s main hall space so it can be reactivated while a larger phased rehabilitation is undertaken. The City of Rock Island received a $33,500 grant for its Rock Island Survey and Research Project.
  • Despite attempts to save and preserve the David C. Cook Building in Elgin, demolition of the historic building began this month, with the roof partially removed. Local advocates, led by Northeast Neighborhood Association, held a rally July 21 in their continued efforts to voice support for structure’s preservation and to urge the City of Elgin to purchase the property. A July 28 City Council vote on the potential purchase failed 5-4. Landmarks Illinois included DC Cook Building on its 2008/09 Chicagoland Watchlist. Earlier this year, the Elgin City Council nominated the 1901 building for potential landmark status, but did not proceed with designation due to lack of owner consent, leaving it unprotected.
  • Landmarks Illinois is helping the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy advocate for a preservation-minded buyer for the unprotected Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Bagley Home in Hinsdale that is for sale and at risk of demolition. The Bagley House, built in 1894, is for sale by @properties to a limited audience, and all offers were starting to be reviewed on July 26, 2021. Landmarks Illinois will update our audience as we receive updates on the home. Learn how you can help advocate for the home here.
  • Landmarks Illinois issued a letter of support this month for local landmark designation for the Second Church of Christ, Scientist in Evanston, built in 1946. The Evanston City Council’s Planning and Development Committee will vote August 9 on forwarding a landmark recommendation to the full City Council for the Perkins & Will-designed building. Evanston residents in support of landmarking the historic church can sign this petition here and and reach out to their alderperson here.
  • The Chicago Architecture Center’s exhibit “Helmut Jahn: Life + Architecture” opened this month and features Most Endangered site, the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Landmarks Illinois included the Post Modern building on its 2021 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, announced in May, and previously included it on its 2017, 2018 and 2019 Most Endangered lists. Landmarks Illinois also commissioned a National Register nomination for the building. The Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council, the official state-appointed body to recommend places in Illinois for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, voted in favor of the nomination in June. Hear Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Director Lisa DiChiera interviewed on WLS about the National Register designation effort.
  • Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald was on Preservation Maryland’s podcast, PreserveCast. Check out the episode in which Bonnie talks about Landmarks Illinois’ 50th Anniversary in 2021, the organization’s new Guiding Principles and her James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation fellowship.
  • Landmarks Illinois was among many who submitted letters and made public statements to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks this month in favor of landmarking the Halsted & Willow Gateway in Chicago, a 2014 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois site. The commission held a public hearing on the potential landmarking of the group of buildings in Lincoln Park on July 12. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will vote on final landmark recommendation at its August 5th meeting. Learn how to make a public statement or submit a letter or email of support here.
  • Preservation advocates in Peoria have formed a new group, the Madison Theatre Restoration committee, to fundraise and restore the historic Madison Theatre in Peoria, a former Landmarks Illinois Most Endangered property and Preservation Heritage Fund grant recipient. The theater is included on the National Register of Historic Places and has sat empty for nearly 20 years. The restoration committee plans to hold open house tours in August at the theater as well. Stay tuned to Landmarks Illinois’ social media for future updates.


Download the full July 2021 Preservation News Roundup below

July 2021 Preservation News Roundup

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