Alex Wolking is a Real Estate Broker for Keller Williams Chicago-Lincoln Park. He also serves on the Fun Subcommittee for the Skyline Council of Landmarks Illinois. Below, Alex shares why and when he got involved in LI’s young and emerging professionals committee and how he sees young people, like himself, having an impact on preservation.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Matching the right buyer to the perfect property (or helping a seller find the right buyer), put the deal together, and watch the new owner flourish as they restore their new home. What’s more interesting is watching how it impacts the community around them. I love being part of the process of connecting people and how it builds a community!
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH LANDMARKS ILLINOIS AND JOIN THE SKYLINE COUNCIL?
I organized a tour of my neighborhood (Buena Park / Hutchinson Street Historic District) for all of the homes for sale. I invited the Louis Sullivan Society, and the turnout was amazing. I knew then and there I needed to be involved in this organization. An inspiring group of leaders, and genuinely nice people.
WHY IS HISTORIC PRESERVATION IMPORTANT AND WHAT ABOUT IT INTERESTS YOU?
History is what gives a community it’s unique personality. Historic buildings are living, breathing works of art. My career is simply a vehicle to help connect people to places they can save and preserve their community’s tapestry, yet bring new life. I love watching that transformation!
WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT HISTORIC PRESERVATION YOU WOULD TELL ANOTHER YOUNG PROFESSIONAL TO SPARK THEIR INTEREST?
“Think of your FAVORITE toy growing up as a kid (bonus points if said toy was given to you by your favorite friend, family member, or loved one). You have fond memories of this toy, and you want your kids to play with it someday, because you enjoy how much joy it brought you. Now imagine someone wants to rip/break/destroy that toy, and replace it with a cheap, crappier version that will break in no time flat. Welcome to historic preservation.”
WHAT IMPACT DO YOU THINK YOUNG PROFESSIONALS LIKE YOURSELF WILL HAVE ON THE FUTURE OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION?
Creatively solving the problem of adaptive reuse. Our communities and lifestyles are so digital and “convenience-based”, that some buildings no longer meet the needs of their communities, or no longer serve any purpose. The next vision younger generations are going to have to cast is, “how do we make this a functional, useful space again?”
WHAT DO YOU DO TO SUPPORT AND ADVOCATE FOR PRESERVATION EITHER IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL OR PERSONAL LIFE? (OR BOTH!)
I lead architecture tours, and recently started a weekly social media series called #MansionMondays. An historic mansion is featured every Monday morning. So far, the response has been very positive and people have messaged me saying, “I didn’t know that was the story with that house!” The biggest key to preservation, I’m finding, is telling a property’s story in a compelling way, and telling it often!
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
I’m a live theatre junkie. Love going to plays, musicals, operas, symphonies, etc. I also enjoy giving back to my community, staying involved with Buena Park Neighbors, and leading architecture tours.
(Photo: Alex leading a tour.)