Terry Tatum: A Tribute

A public memorial will take place for Terry Tatum March 15 at Glessner House, 1800 S. Prairie Ave., Chicago.  Details can be found below.


Memorial details

February 27, 2020
By Lisa DiChiera

It is with great sadness that the preservation community of Illinois lost Terry Tatum on January 31 to a year-long battle with Leukemia. Terry was a long-time member of Landmarks Illinois and served on its Preservation Issues Committee. One of the best architectural historians and researchers in Chicago, Terry assisted Landmarks Illinois with many projects, often probono and in urgent situations when historic buildings were under threat.

As recently as January, Terry assisted Landmarks Illinois with three different Chicago Landmark designation advocacy efforts by providing research and writing. Terry had worked for both the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and as an instructor at the School of the Art Institute Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. He was known as an expert on the work of architects Andrew Rebori and Pond and Pond, recently contributing to the research and writing of a preliminary Chicago landmark designation report for the proposed designation of the Ken Nordine home at 6106 N. Kenmore, designed by Pond and Pond, which will be presented to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on March 5. In 2019, Terry also helped Landmarks Illinois with research for the recently designated Near North Historic District in Chicago. Terry always provided his expertise and unbiased wisdom toward both Landmarks Illinois and grassroots-led community preservation advocacy efforts.

Jim Peters, former Landmarks Illinois President, former Deputy Commissioner of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Historic Preservation Division and a current instructor wrote the following of Terry:

“Terry combined an incredible array of skills, which is what made him such an invaluable part of the preservation community in Chicago and Illinois. He was both passionate and extremely knowledgeable about architectural history, whether it was a high-style building or a simple vernacular structure. Yet, he was always able to communicate this knowledge to the average person, both in his writing and in his speaking, with minimal use of jargon and often in very humorous ways.

He was a highly ethical preservationist. He never testified against an advocacy issue and he was always willing to help those who were fighting to save a significant building or district, whether with research assistance, a letter of support or personal testimony.

Terry was the fastest researcher/writer I’ve ever worked with in more than four decades in the preservation field. But despite his prodigious work output, his landmark designation reports, National Register nominations and journal articles were always of the highest quality. And lest there be any doubt, no one has ever referenced more famous lines from musical theater in their presentations and lectures than Terry did.

Above all else, Terry was an extremely kind and generous person. He was a true gentleman and someone who was always willing to help other professionals, community residents and his students. He truly was one-of-a-kind, and he will be sorely missed, both as a friend and as a colleague.

As Terry, himself, might have said,”Here’s to you kiddo.””

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