Below is a roundup of Illinois preservation news stories for the month of March 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.
Rockford City Council Committee denies Chancery landmark status - Goes to full Council vote Monday
This month, the Rockford Code & Regulation committee voted against granting the historic Chancery building in Rockford landmark status. The full city council will discuss the landmark proposal for the Diocese-owned building Monday, April 1. The Diocese has stated it plans to demolish the building for a parking lot or landscaping.
Landmarks Illinois, as well as other local preservation supporters, are disappointed in the committee’s decision, which neglected to recognize that the building met the needed criteria for landmark designation and is a viable reuse candidate for offices or housing. LI and Fighting for the Chancery continue to advocate for preservation of this significant structure. Local advocates are asking Rockford residents to reach out to their alderman to voice their opposition to any potential demolition of the Chancery and share their support for landmarking the building. Landmarking would enable the building to have a better opportunity for future reuse (several developers have expressed willingness to purchase and rehabilitate) and retain this highly visible and beloved building for Rockford’s Signal Hill community.
Preservation advocates will host a press conference today at noon outside the old U.S. Post Office in Downtown Rockford, 401 S. Main St., to discuss a letter former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey is sending to the Vatican, asking Pope Francis to intervene to save the former Rockford Diocese Chancery Building from demolition.
“Morrissey, joined by several supporters of the effort including Alderman Bill Rose, indicated that he is asking Pope Francis to intervene in the ongoing effort to save the former Rockford Diocese Chancery Building based on recent guidance Pope Francis gave at a November 29-30 Vatican Conference on the topic of what to do with vacant Church properties,” Fighting for the Chancery’s press release states.
Visit the Fighting for the Chancer Facebook’s page @savepietyhill for more information.
Read more in the news:
Denied: No historic landmark status for Rockford chancery
WIFR, March 25
(Photo credit: Don Bissell)
After case is dismissed, LI files appeal in Rock Island County Courthouse lawsuit
Landmarks Illinois’ lawsuit in Rock Island to stop the unlawful demolition of the historic courthouse was dismissed in March by Peoria County 10th Circuit Court. The dismissal meant the temporary restraining order (TRO) that was previously granted and halted demolition on the Rock Island County Courthouse for the time being, was no longer in effect.
Days after the court dismissed the case, Landmarks Illinois and its co-plaintiffs filed an appeal. We were pleased to report on March 22, 2019, that the Third District Appellate Court of Illinois granted an emergency petition to stay the order dissolving the TRO enjoining demolition of the historic Rock Island County Courthouse. Demolition will not occur while the appellate court considers the filings for our appeal.
“Landmarks Illinois disagreed with the Court’s decision to dismiss our case and firmly stands behind our lawsuit asserting that the Rock Island County Board and Rock Island County Public Building Commission are in violation of state historic preservation law in their efforts to demolish the historic county courthouse,” LI’s March 22 statement on the announcement said.
Landmarks Illinois will continue to provide updates on the lawsuit.
Read more in the news:
Emergency appeal delays courthouse demolition
Dispatch Argus, March 22
Judge Clears Way for Demolition of Rock Island Courthouse
Peoria Public Radio, March 20
LI continues advocacy in Yorkville for Old Kendall County Residence & Jail
The City of Yorkville received two proposals to purchase and reuse the former Kendall County Residence and Jail, which LI included on its 2003 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Landmarks Illinois has long been involved in discussions with Yorkville city officials to bring potential developers to the table who would restore and reuse the structure.
Landmarks Illinois has long been involved in discussions with Yorkville city officials to bring potential developers to the table who would rehabilitate and reuse the structure. LI also provided assistanceto the two entities that submitted a proposal by the city’s deadline earlier this week, Imperfect Angels, a nonprofit mentorship organization for young women based out of Aurora, and a Chicago-based for-profit group.
Yorkville City Council did not take any action at its meeting earlier this week and agreed to review the proposals at its upcoming April 9 meeting, according to reports. Landmarks Illinois will also continue to advise as necessary in this process to ensure the Old Kendall County Residence & Jail is preserved and reused.
Read more in the news:
Yorkville gets two proposals to save old Kendall County Jail
The Beacon-News, March 28
Two requests for proposals submitted for old county jail
Kendall County Now, March 27
Proposals for Ebony Test Kitchen due May 1
Landmarks Illinois is accepting proposals from interested institutions or entities looking to become new owners of the iconic former Ebony Test Kitchen until May 1, 2019. The one-of-a-kind test kitchen, which formerly resided on the 10th floor of the Johnson Publishing Company building in Chicago, was designed in 1971 by Palm Springs-based interior designers William Raiser and Arthur Elrod.
Landmarks Illinois dissembled the test kitchen from the building last spring and has been safely storing it since. In February, 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.
Interested in learning more? Download LI’s RFP here. Or reach out to LI Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera at LDiChiera@landmarks.org. During March, Lisa was featured on The Mid Century Modern Show podcast where she talked about on LI’s effort to preserve the former Ebony Test Kitchen. You can listen to the full episode by downloading it on iTunes.
2019 Legendary Landmarks Celebration held March 7
Landmarks Illinois hosted its 14th Annual Legendary Landmarks Celebration at the Hilton Chicago this past month, welcoming nearly 700 guests and supporters. Event attendees helped pay tribute to this year’s three honorees: John Murphy of Murphy Development Group, Ed Wehmer of Wintrust, and Judy and Ray McCaskey. Guests also helped raise $788,800 for Landmarks Illinois programs, $109,000 of which came directly from the event’s paddle raise. Landmarks Illinois sincerely thanks all those who attended and supported this successful event!
Read more in the news:
Legendary Landmarks Gala Honors Preservation
Chicago Classic Magazine, March 25
(Photo: LI President & CEO Bonnie McDonald, LI Board Vice Chair Gary Anderson, 2019 Legendary Landmarks John Murphy (Murphy Development Group), Ed Wehmer (Wintrust), and Judy and Ray McCaskey, LI Board Chair Mark Henning. (credit: Oscar H. Izquierdo))See Photos From the Event
LI debuts new video, "People Saving Places: The Underground Railroad in Illinois"
Landmarks Illinois publicly debuted its new student-made video in March on the Underground Railroad in Illinois. More than 140 people attended the Preservation Snapshots Lecture at Quinn Chapel in Chicago on March 9 where the video was shown for the first time to the public. Jean Follett, LI board member, editor and historic preservation consultant, led the informative lecture.
The video, directed by University of Chicago student Catalina Parra, focuses on three documented Underground Railroad sites in Illinois: the Sheldon Peck Homestead in Lombard, the Owen Lovejoy Homestead in Princeton and Quinn Chapel AME Church in Chicago. The video project was made possible thanks to support from Illinois Humanities, the Richard and Julia Moe Family Fund, a fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Patrica Joseph.
(Photo: Left to right: LI President & CEO Bonnie McDonald, Pastor James Moody of Quinn Chapel, Jean Follett, video project funder Patricia Joseph, video student director Catalina Parra, and Corlis Moody of Quinn Chapel.)Watch the Video