Preservation News Roundup: October 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 2020 Preservation Award Recipients

Landmarks Illinois was proud to honor the recipients of this year’s preservation awards at our first-ever virtual Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards Ceremony, held Wednesday, October 21.

Approximately 200 households across Illinois tuned in for the event, which included inspiring videos on this year’s award-winning preservation projects and efforts. Landmarks Illinois thanks our members, supporters, friends and family who joined us to celebrate the people saving our historic places!

We also want to thank the Skyline Council & Landmarks Illinois Board & Skyline Council Member Alex Wolking for hosting a fun “Beer Saving Buildings” virtual Happy Hour before the awards ceremony. Eris Brewery & Cider House of Chicago and Prairie Street Brewing Company of Rockford generously shared insights on their craft cider and beer with our guests during the virtual taste-testing.

If you missed the event, visit the Landmarks Illinois YouTube Channel to watch the full ceremony and to check out each of the nine videos focused on each 2020 award-winning preservation project!

(Pictured: Eddie Torrez of Eddie & Los Cool Shades provided live music during Landmarks Illinois’ virtual 2020 Preservation Awards ceremony and pre-event Happy Hour.)


Landmarks Illinois celebrates approval of Neighborhood Character Districts in Chicago

Landmarks Illinois celebrated the news this month that the City of Chicago had approved updates to the City’s Special Character Overlay District ordinance that will provide improved design guidelines, with resident input, for architecturally unique neighborhoods. The action creates Special Character Overlay Districts, or more widely known as “Neighborhood Conservation Districts,” which Landmarks Illinois has been advocating for since 2014.

Seven years ago, Landmarks Illinois and Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) began to study the use of this preservation tool nationally, identifying best practices and learning how this policy could be applied to Chicago’s neighborhoods. Landmarks Illinois and NHS focused on Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood as a case study for a neighborhood character district, working with residents in the 6600 blocks of S. Harvard and S. Yale Avenues in the process. In May 2014, the case study was presented to, and well received by, Chicago’s Historic Preservation Division.

The study process confirmed that character districts are a way to empower citizens to take ownership of the look and feel of their neighborhoods and encourage others to make informed decisions concerning the heritage of their community. They are often grassroots efforts that bring neighbors together in an effort to preserve and beautify community assets and improve the quality of life for everyone in a community. For those areas that do not meet criteria for historic district designation, the special character overlay district is an important additional neighborhood planning tool to help communities. Landmarks Illinois continued to work with the City’s Historic Preservation Division and Department of Planning and Development staff as they further studied and developed the use of special character overlay districts for the city of Chicago.

Read the City’s press release below.

(Pictured: Homes in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.)


Landmarks Illinois also created a short video in 2017 about this effort in Englewood as part of a student video project with Kennedy King College. Watch the short film, “Creating a Neighborhood Conservation District in Englewood, Chicago,” below.


Preservation Snapshots Lecture November 10: "PRESERVING CULTURAL HERITAGE IN SAN ANTONIO"

Landmarks Illinois welcomes Sarah Zenaida Gould, Ph.D., Interim Executive Director of the Mexican American Civil Rights Institute, and Shanon Shea Miller, AICP, Director and Historic Preservation Officer of the Office of Historic Preservation for the City Of San Antonio, to discuss preservation efforts at the local and national level.

Topics will include:

Increasing Latinx representation in historic preservation

Understanding heritage conservation as a social justice imperative

Growing diversity in historic preservation

Improving engagement with underrepresented communities

Addressing climate change.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.


Via Zoom


Reservation required. $5 Members/$7 Public


Landmarks Illinois Board Member & former Skyline Council Chair Allison Toonen-Talamo receives Aspire Award from National Trust for Historic Preservation

Allison Toonen-Talamo, a current member of the Landmarks Illinois Board of Directors and former chair of Landmarks Illinois’ young & emerging professionals committee, the Skyline Council, is one of three recipients of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s American Express Aspire Award. Allison is an Associate II for the Architectural Engineering team at Klein and Hoffman in Chicago. She joins Zulmilena Then, president and founder of Preserving East New York in Brooklyn, New York; and Melissa Mortimer, historic preservation planner at Southeast Tennessee Development District, in receiving the award.

Allison and her fellow Aspire Award winners were honored at a virtual ceremony Thursday, October 29, as part of the 2020 National Preservation Awards presented this past week as part of the PastForward 2020 Online Conference.

The National Trust’s American Express Aspire Award recognizes emerging preservation leaders who demonstrate innovative thinking and achievement in advancing historic preservation in their local, state or national communities.

“This year’s joint award honors three accomplished women who each bring a unique perspective to the field,” the National Trust said in a press release this week. “Through their expertise in engineering, city planning, and advocacy, Then, Toonen-Talamo, and Mortimer are changing the landscape of the preservation profession and creating a stronger national movement.


Preservation now possible for long-threatened Oakdale Tabernacle

Earlier this year, demolition seemed likely for the more than 100-year-old Oakdale Tabernacle in Freeport. Landmarks Illinois included the now-vacant, former community gathering space on its 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Ever since, Landmarks Illinois has continued to work with local advocates, including the nonprofit Friends of the Freeport Park District, to try to prevent demolition of the Oakdale Tabernacle and restore it as a low-cost alternative to a publicly funded tear down. In March, Landmarks Illinois’ advocacy work helped the Park Board to terminate a previously-approved demolition contract.

Additional positive developments have emerged in recent months for historic site. Friends of the Freeport Park District is currently in discussions with the city’s park district officials to negotiate a long-term lease of the tabernacle. While discussions are ongoing, Landmarks Illinois believes this is a major turnaround from a possible devastating fate of one of Illinois’ most architecturally unique gathering venues. We will continue to update you on future developments with the Oakdale Tabernacle.

Follow the Friends of Freeport Park District Facebook group:


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