People Saving Places For People
Landmarks Illinois Preservation News
MARCH 2021
Preservation News is a monthly service Landmarks Illinois provides to its members and supporters and serves as a roundup of our latest advocacy efforts, projects and other news from around the state. JOIN OR RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP HERE
Strong opposition helps strike down detrimental zoning ordinance proposal discouraging house museums in Chicago
The nonprofit Muddy Waters Original Jam Out (MOJO) Museum, for example, is currently working to transform the former North Kenwood home of Blues legend Muddy Waters (pictured above) into a cultural museum.
Late last year, Chicago 4th Ward Ald. Sophia King introduced a proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would have made establishing cultural exhibits like house museums and arts or humanities exhibits in residential-zoned districts extremely difficult and costly. When Landmarks Illinois recently learned of the ordinance proposal and its potential broad negative impacts on small nonprofits working to rehabilitate historic buildings in Chicago, such as the Muddy Waters House and the Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley Home, it took immediate action, voicing opposition and explaining the detrimental effects it would have. (Read our March 6 letter to the city here.) We also asked for help from our supporters to join us in voicing opposition. Thank you to all Chicago residents and partner organizations who responded to this important call to action and reached out to your alderman and Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards Committee Chair Tom Tunney urging them to strike down the proposal.

The committee was scheduled to discuss Ald. King's proposal at its March 23 meeting. However, at the top of the meeting, King announced she would withdrawal her proposal for now to allow for "further discussion with the community as a whole. “I understand the need for clarity on the legislation and am willing to further engage with community members and activists in this process,” King said, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO of Landmarks Illinois, made a public comment at the March 23 meeting, thanking Ald. King for removing her proposal from consideration.

"Our research showed more than 30 existing or planned cultural exhibits citywide would have been impacted...The coalition of partners speaking and watching today opposing this ordinance shows how much these organizations matter to their communities. We all believe there should be a future for cultural exhibits in residential zoned districts," McDonald said at the meeting.
50Forward: Watch all the original video content debuted at our 50th Anniversary Celebration!
Nearly 500 people tuned in Thursday, March 25 for our virtual spring fundraiser, 50Forward. The 50th anniversary event helped raise more than $616,000 for Landmarks Illinois' mission-driven advocacy work. Check out all the videos shown at 50Forward below, including a full recording of the live event. You can also visit the "LI at 50" playlist at the Landmarks Illinois YouTube Channel to watch and share the content below!
50FORWARD: Full program

The full, nearly hour-long live event was recorded at Chop Shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.
50FORWARD: Opening

A short introduction to our major successes over the past 50 years helping people save places in Illinois.
50FORWARD: Where we're headed

A look at Landmarks Illinois' plans for the next 50 years of preservation.
50FORWARD: Our first 50 years

Learn about Landmarks Illinois' founding in 1971 and how we have grown into a statewide preservation organization serving all people of Illinois.
50FORWARD: Project Spotlight - The Forum, Chicago

See how Landmarks Illinois is helping preserve a culturally and historically significant former community gathering space in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood.
50FORWARD: Closing

An inspiring video montage of the people and places Landmarks Illinois has served for 50 years.
Rock Island County votes against reuse proposal for historic courthouse
Despite strong public support for potentially reusing the historic Rock Island County Courthouse as a federal courthouse, the Rock Island County Board voted March 22 against an agreement that would allow a private developer’s proposal to move forward.

The historic Rock Island County Courthouse, included on Landmarks Illinois' 2018 & 2019 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, was under consideration by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in its search as the next site of federal court operations for the Central District of Illinois. Landmarks Illinois, which with the National Trust for Historic Preservation sued the Rock Island County Board and Rock Island County Public Building Commission in 2019 to prevent demolition of the courthouse, has advocated for reuse of the building as a federal courthouse.
Joe Lemon, of QC Offices Real Estate Holdings, offered to purchase the historic county courthouse for $250,000 while allowing the county to maintain ownership of the underlying land. As the Quad City Times reported, Lemon only had until the afternoon of March 23 to turn in a signed purchase agreement to the GSA proving he had ownership of the building in order for it to be considered for redevelopment as the new federal courthouse.

Landmarks Illinois is disappointed the proposal was not accepted by the county board. Regarding the lawsuit Landmarks Illinois filed with its fellow plaintiffs in 2019 to stop demolition of the courthouse, the consultation process as required by state law and upheld by the Illinois Appellate Court is currently ongoing.

Read more in the news:

Quad City Times, March 23

Our Quad Cities, March 22

KWQC, March 22

Quad City Times, March 16

Quad City Times, March 10

Quad City Times, March 4
2021 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois announcement
Landmarks Illinois will announce this year's list of top Illinois historic endangered places at a virtual announcement on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at noon. The public is welcome to join the free virtual presentation.

More details and registration coming soon!

(Photo: Landmarks Illinois President & CEO Bonnie McDonald being interviewed by press at the 2019 Most Endangered announcement in Springfield.)

Nonprofit Artist Book House chosen for reuse of historic Harley Clarke Mansion in Evanston
The Evanston City Council voted this month to enter into lease negotiations with the nonprofit Artist Book House for a long-term lease of the historic Harley Clarke Mansion, included on Landmarks Illinois' 2016 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. The vote comes after years-long debate about the future of the historic property on Evanston's lakefront.

Artist Book House was one among four organizations to submit a proposal to the City of Evanston for a long-term lease and reuse of the Harley Clarke Mansion property. Evanston Community Lakehouse & Gardens, Evanston Conservancy and ONE Community Museum also submitted proposals. Artist Book House plans to restore the historic mansion and reuse it for educational programming and public use. "This will include print, paper and book binding studios, conference rooms and classrooms for teaching writing and for hosting book groups and a papermaker’s garden," the nonprofit's website states. "A café serving light fare, an art gallery and a bookstore will be open to the public. Additional public programming, such as artist talks, author readings and poetry slams, will be scheduled to coincide with the academic year to avoid conflicts with parking for those visiting the beach."
New on the LI Blog
Read the latest articles published this month on the LI Preservation News Blog!
Learn how the Landmarks Illinois’ Easement Committee helps oversee the organization's 540 preservation easement properties.

Director of Landmarks Illinois’ Springfield Office Frank Butterfield writes about the need to amplify lesser-known stories of our past in our state's capital.

Longtime Landmarks Illinois Board Members Martin Tangora and Will Tippens, ask each other about their decades of service to the organization.

Illinois loses a preservation champion
Mr. Driehaus at the 2018 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards. Mr. Driehaus' foundation has generously funded Landmarks Illinois' annual awards program for the last nearly 30 years.
Landmarks Illinois was incredibly saddened to hear of the passing this month of Richard H. Driehaus. He was a steadfast supporter of our organization and a preservation champion across Illinois and the nation. Since 1994, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation has funded the Landmarks Illinois annual preservation award program. Additionally, a $1 million gift from The Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust launched Landmarks Illinois' Richard H. Driehaus Courthouse Initiative in 2009 to provide matching grants to county governments to restore their historic courthouses.

Mr. Driehaus' love for architecture and historic preservation, among other causes, was seen through his commendable philanthropic efforts, as well as his own preservation projects. Historic places all across Illinois are still standing today because of his creative vision and unwavering generosity. Mr. Driehaus will be greatly missed, and through our work, Landmarks Illinois will be sure to honor him and his passion for protecting places of our past.
Apply for a Landmarks Illinois grant!
Grant applications due: April 15
Landmarks Illinois has three grant programs:

The next round of applications for each grant program are due April 15.

Click below to learn if you and your preservation project qualify for funding and how to submit an application.
Additional Landmarks Illinois news
  • Landmarks Illinois led the state delegation in virtual Congressional meetings this month as part of Preservation Action’s 2021 Advocacy Week. This year’s topics included how historic tax credit improvements can help boost the economy following COVID, increased support to the Historic Preservation Fund and designating the 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site and New Philadelphia as units of the National Park Service. We thank our elected officials and their staffs for their continued support of preservation in Illinois, and our members and supporters who joined us for a successful Advocacy Week!

  • The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will discuss final landmark recommendation of the historic Pentecostal Church of Holiness at its April 1 meeting. Written comments to the commission are due today at 12:45 p.m. The commission previously approved preliminary landmark recommendation for the North Lawndale church. Landmarks Illinois also awarded the congregation a Preservation Heritage Fund Grant in September 2020 to help pay for priority repairs of the structure. Landmarks Illinois Influencers Ed Gerns and Jack Tribbia - recently honored at 50Forward - have both provided additional technical assistance to help prioritize necessary repairs at the church. 

More preservation news from around the state
2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois
2017 Preservation Heritage Fund Grant Recipient
Chicago Defender, March 22

1996, 2001, 2010, 2014 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois
Block Club Chicago, March 22

Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Effort
The Architect's Newspaper, March 17

2002 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois
Daily Southtown, March 11

2014 & 2016 Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund for Illinois Grant Recipient
Oak Leaves, March 9

2021 Preservation Heritage Fund Grant Recipient
Aurora Beacon News, March 9

2017, 2018 & 2019 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois
Chicago Sun-Times, March 8

Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Effort
Austin Talks, March 7
Landmarks Illinois Annual Corporate Sponsors
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.