History and Preservation home. History Fair (prizes awarded June 6-see description of ceremony). Other "Co-Laborers in the Community."

At the Hyde Park Historical Society

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Preservation and Development task force, and the HPKCC website, www.hydepark.org. Help support our program: Join the Conference!
Note: this is NOT the (highly recommended) website of Hyde Park Historical Society--visit the rebuilt website, http://www.hydeparkhistory.org. Follow the Hyde Park Historical Society on Twitter @hphs1893. New Facebook page- http://facebook.com/hydeparkhistory.
"Like" them on Facebook so you can get posts.

www.hydeparkhistory.org. You can also sign up for their Facebook and email notifications and the monthly Bulletin and Quarterly Newsletter.
Events and programs

The building - November 2018 the major renovation is done, and its beautiful. Thank you. More is underway including a project to to convert part of the embankemtn walls north and south of the building into decorative and temporary exhibit spaces (a 2019 Neighborhood Enhancement Grant was received for this from South East Chicago Commission) .
We also managed the succesful drive of thePomontory Point Conservancy for a boulder and plaque commemorting successful designation of the Point to the National Register of Historic Places.

Current main project is the Nancy Hays photography conservation, digitalization, and exhibition project - visit www.NancyHays.org.

President Michal Safar writes as to the Hyde Park Herald

Hyde Park Historical Society Cable Car Building – Restored and Looking Good!

The Hyde Park Historical Society announces a major achievement in the restoration of its historical cable car building. The exterior work on the building is complete! The deteriorated brickwork has been replaced. The doors and woodwork have been refurbished, repainted and refinished. This effort could not have been accomplished without the generous support of our members, the Hyde Park community and the Hyde Park Herald. We sincerely thank everyone who contributed. We also thank our team - Douglas Gilbert Architect, Professional Masonry Restoration, and Oak Brothers Construction for their expertise and dedication to this project. The final phase of the planned restoration will include interior improvements to the floors, woodwork and building accessibility.

The Hyde Park Historical Society is planning a number of activities to celebrate this milestone including an Open House on Sunday November 11, 2018 from 2-4pm. All are welcome!

At the Society.

Hyde Park Historical Society is seeking nominations for its annual Cornell and Despres Preservation Awards. Nominations are due November 15 each year. Please go to hydeparkhistory.org. to for the form and return directions.

HPHS members were interviewed about Kenwood residents for WCIU. The segment aired July 11, 2016.

Hyde Park Historical Society headquarters at 5529 S. Lake Park. New visiting hours will be announced in the future.

Its Website: www.hydeparkhistory.org. THE WEBSITE HAS BEEN REBUILT.
Its Facebook: HPHS FACEBOOK link - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hyde-Park-Historical-Society-Chicago-IL/255376984581995?ref=ts&fref=ts. Be sure to "like" it to get informational posts.

Visit these excellent sites. e-mail. The archive finding aid is completely on line find at Special Collections-about accessing and using-
The Finding Aid: http://ead.lib.uchicago.edu/uncap_rs3.php?eadid=ICU.SPCL.HPHS
and search-browse Hyde Park Historical Collection to the three collections- main, HP Coop Soc., and another
or to reach the main directly go to
Links to the Rascher Atlas of HP Township, digitalized portions. The Society has a copy of Vol. 1 (39th to 87th)--not sure how we will make it available- not at the Society. http://www.historicmapworks.com/Atlas/US/12050/Cook+County+1890+Vol+1+Hyde+Park+North/

Saturday and Sunday public hours 2-4 pm.

HPHS headquarters, 5529 S. Lake Park AvenueHeadquarters, Old Cable Car bldg. 5529 S. Lake Park. Restored under John Vinci.

The Hyde Park Historical Society works to preserve, research, and educate about the history of Hyde Park/Kenwood and Hyde Park Township through programs and exhibits, archives, and publications. Headquarters: an historic cable car house at 5529 S. Lake Park. Open 2-4 one Saturday or Sunday monthly.

HPHS announces awards for 2017 Feb 25 Dinner (visit HPHS website for info and tickets)

The 2017 Leon and Marian Despres Preservation Award, given by the Hyde Park Historical Society for outstanding achievement in preserving Hyde Park Township’s architectural heritage, will be given to the Pioneer Cooperative Apartments, Inc. for their on-going stewardship of one of Keck and Keck's most important buildings (1949).

The Pioneer Coop incarnates the Keck brothers' devotion to innovative low-cost construction, affordable urban housing and passive energy conservation techniques. As an early post-WWII modernist building it clearly pointed in a direction we are only now beginning to follow half a century later.

The Despres Award will be presented at the Hyde Park Historical Society's annual dinner on Saturday, February 25, at the Quadrangle Club, 1155 E. 57th St. Reserve your ticket with the order form at the Hyde Park Historical Society website.

2017 Cornell Award winner is Nicholas Rudall, Founding Artistic Director of Court Theater.

President's Award- Megan E. Doherty and Jasmne Kwong for "If You Weren't Looking for It: The Seminary Coop Bookstore.

Link to Chicago Weekly article on November 6 Story Share by the Society. http://chicagoweekly.net/2011/11/10/the-good-old-days/

See Eva Lewis' Metro History Fair prize-winning website on saving the South Shore Country Club- http://33427478.nhd.weebly.com

June 25 2016- Chicago Metro History Fair Hyde Park Town projects featured and awarded at the presentation progrm at Augustana Church were a video on Elaine May enabling Comediennes, by a team from UC Lab School, and a display on "Colored Persons at the Columbian Exposition" by a team from Angelica Dominican High School.

Good News- The Shrine of Christ the King at 64th and Kimbark will be rebuilt. The deed is being given to the Institute by th Adrchdiocese. Nearly a million has been raised. Engineers have been hired. Stabilization will be first priority.

The Hyde Park Historical Society gives Cornell and Despres Preservation awards for its annual meetings, and as merited a Jean Block Award for book making a significant contribution to understanding Hyde Park and its history.

Appeals for nominations for the 2016 Cornell Award, which honors those promoting knowledge of and appreciation for the history of/in the area known as Hyde Park Township have gone out- through Nov. 1, 2015. Get the form from hydeparkhistory.org and send to Fran Vandervoort, fv2335@gmail.com.
Appeals for nominations for the 2016 Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award, whichhonors those (indiv, org, institutions et al) who have in various ways preserved the built environment in Hyde Park Township have gone out- through Dec. 1. Get sthe form from hydeparkhistory.org and send to Jack Spicer, jackspicer@earthlink.net.
In both cases include both your contacts and those of the nominee, and reasons they should receive the award.


The Society Board meets, open to Society members, 3rd Tuesday evenings, 7:30, at the Society's headquarters, 5529 S. Lake Park Avenue. The Preservation Committee meets, open to Society members, 1st Tuesdays at 7:30 (in April 2004 2nd Tuesday) at Society headquarters.
Join the Society- contact via the website. Participate in the work, receive the fascinating quarterly Hyde Park History.

President: Michal Safar, Vice President and communications/website: Janice Knox, Treasurer: Jay Wilcoxen, Secretary: Gary Ossewaarde, Program Chair: Ruth Knack, Newsletter Fran Vandervoort, Archivist: Michal Safar.

Book reviews and articles on HS-related programs: http://www.hydeparkhistory.org/Review.pdf. All programs are listed in www.hydeparkhistory.org/events.html.

Hyde Park Historical Society headquarters is the restored old cable car warming house, 5529 S. Lake Park.

The Archives Committee meets-

The Oral History Committee meets- 7:15 pm at 5529 S. Lake Park.

Development Committee - tbd

The Program Committee meets- tba

The Preservation Committee: contact chair Jack Spicer, 773 324-5476.


All programs are listed in www.hydeparkhistory.org/events.html. Hours for exhibits: Open houses or by appt.

Nancy Hays photographs, first installment. Open House Nov. 24, Dec. 8, 21.


To Awards. To Upcoming Programs


Projects have included documenting the pre-Columbian Exposition Hyde Park core houses (51st-55th, Harper to Woodlawn). Completed, material to Regenstein.

HPHS. The Society raised $13,700 to go with funds of the Library for phase I. Now being launched - a Archives Processing Sustaining Fund to make sure new materials are so indexed and integrated, and eventually the Nancy Hays Collection. Find sections of the archives digital finding aid as it comes online at http://ead.lib.uchicago.edu including Hyde Park Co-op.

HPHS has entered into agreement with Regenstein Library Special Collections for restoration work on a rare century old atlas of Hyde Park. Additional funds are being sought.

The Society is collaborating with Southside Preservation Action Fund to survey the Woodlawn-University Aves. 55th to 59th district, including to see whether landmarking is appropriate.

THE ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM IS BEING REVIVED. FUNDRAISING IS IN PROGRESS including from the general public, - thanks to those who raised over $7,000- more is still needed. Contact at hporalhistory@gmail.com. http://www.hydeparkhistory.org for prospectus and more information.

The Society did with Landmarks Illinois to have a full alternative architectural study and rendering for Doctors Hospital development and is working with others. The Society also helped underwrite or support studies of the Gropius buildings on the Michael Reese campus and a structural assessment of the Harper Theater.

Oral History is being re-launched. Planning and research and id of candidates for interviewing and to interview is done, funds sought on a ongoing basis, equipment about to bought and training to start. December 2012 HPKCC gave $500 to the Hyde Park Historical Society for its Oral History Program to focus on HPKCC past community leaders. Hyde Park Bank and many, many others are among contributors.

Hyde Park Historical Society, fresh off a photodocumentation of lost Hyde Park structures, a documentation and oral history of the Urban Renewal town houses, and a survey of trees and historical sidewalks in the neighborhood, has in January 2007 won a grant and is raising additional funds for a survey, documentation and oral histories of the pre-fair wooden working peoples' houses in Hyde Park center (the first built up area) between 51st and 55th, Woodlawn and Harper/tracks.

New on the website: report and pics of what your neighbors showed off at the "Hyde Park History Show and Tell" March 25 2006.

The Society has assembled grants and funds for a historic survey of the Urban Renewal Townhouses. The results are now deposited in Regenstein Library.

Completed is Mary Schlesinger's documentation of all lost houses in Hyde Park and Kenwood. The results are now deposited in Regenstein Library being catalogued and online finding aid being prepared. Under planning is putting this material on the hydeparkhistory.org website.


Events, Programs/Lectures: (usually 2 pm Sundays at the Society-but lately more on Saturday. 5529 S. Lake Park): For information call the Society and ask for contact for the new Program Chair or visit www.hydeparkhistory.org/events.html.

Watch for Open Houses at the Society HQ 2-4 pm select weekend days- Open Houses for the Nancy Hays Photos Exhibition now open. 2-4 pm November 10 and 24, December 8 and 21.

3rd Monday, 7:30 pm. Hyde Park Book Club. (3rd Mondays) MEETING LOCATION THE SOCIETY, 5529 S. LAKE PARK. See hydeparkhistory.org for bibliography ahead of each month's meeting. No reservations needed.

December no meeting.
January 20 2020

On Monday, January 20, 2020 we will be joined by Jacky Grimshaw, former aide to Mayor Washington. She will supplement the November discussion with her personal experiences with the Mayor and will discuss any questions left unanswered from the November meeting. Also on January 20 we will be joined by Bea Lumpkin, author of Always Bring a Crowd and Joy in the Struggle. Bea is a remarkable labor activist as well as a technical writer and mathematics professor. Always Bring a Crowd was included in our March 2017 meeting on the topic of Aspects of the Black Experience in Hyde Park and Chicago's South Side. Both books are available new from Amazon, and used from ABE Books very inexpensively.

February 17 2020, Lee Bey, "Southern Exposure" often-hidden treasures on the South Side.

March 16, Carlo Rotella, "The World is Always Ending," about South Shore changes past and future.

April 20. Author Keith M. Stolte, Chicago Artist Colonies.

December 15 Sunday, 2-4 p.m. Holiday Party.

February 1, Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Chicago Folk Festival, an Influencer for 60 Years. With Garth Taylor, Bob Kass, and MadrkGuarino (author writing book on Chicago Folk), and recordings. Hyde Park Historical Society, 5529 S. Lake Park.

Other history happenings are in the calendar in History and Preservation page.

History of the Society and its headquarters at 5529 S. Lake Park Ave.

By Carol Bradford

In the late spring of 1975, Clyde Watkins an Tom Jensen called a public forum to discuss the possibility of organizing an "Hyde Park Historical League." Alderman Leon Despres was the speaker. Early on, Jean Block, Victoria Ranney, and Al and Thelma Dahlberg were also involved in bringing the Society into existence. By late fall of 1976, Muriel Beadle agreed to become the first president. On January 28, 1978, the Hyde Park Historical Society received its first official charter as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation.

A few months later, the Society purchased the small building located at 4429 South Lake Park Avenue for use as its headquarters. The building was constructed in 1893 or '94 by the Chicago City Street Railway, once the most extensive cable car system in the country. The line had moving underground cables, like the system in San Francisco, and connected Hyde Park with the Loop. It, together with the Illinois Central Railroad, the Jackson Park Elevated line and lake steamers, was one of the major modes of transportation between downtown Chicago and the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park, the northern end of which is a few hundred feet to the southeast. The building is situated on the edge of the Illinois Central right-of-way. It is believed to be the only building in Chicago that was part of the cable car system. After abandonment of the system, the building served as a terminal and rest stop for the trolley system. Later it was operated as "Steve's Lunch", but in the years immediately prior to the sale to the Society, it had been empty and somewhat vandalized.

The Society obtained a lease for the land, which was owned by the Illinois Central Golf Railroad, for the price of $20 per year. With a challenge grant of $10,000 from the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Society embarked on a "Charter Membership" Drive to raise funds or the restoration of the building. Jean Block and Ted Anderson took leadership roles in this effort. Devereux Bowly worked tirelessly with architect John Vinci and the construction crew to bring the property back to beauty and utility. A Grand Opening Celebration was held on October 26, 1980.

By the year 2000, the Society's Building Committee, chaired by Devereux Bowly and Bert Benade, brought to the attention of the Board the necessity for repairs, especially to the deteriorating stone around the base of the building front. Other needs included refinishing the floors and doors. In the spring of 2004, a Building Fund campaign was launched. As an incentive, donors who contributed at least $100 were offered a private tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Heller House and its neighbors on the 5100 block of Woodlawn Avenue. Board members themselves immediately pledged over $3,000. The membership responded favorably, with 77 donors contributing $6,900. The necessary work was finally completed in the summer of 2006.

The board thanks all the contributors for their generous support of this effort.

Monograph: Hyde Park Historical Society Cable Car Renovation and Restoration.
John Vinci, Architect. February 12, 1979.

Watkins, Clyde. "History So Soon?" Hyde Park History, Vol. 21, # 1&2, Spring, 1999.




2015. To be awarded at the February 28 Annual Dinner at Quadrangle Club:
Cornell Award: Dr. Neil Harris for education in the history of Hyde Park.
Despres Preservation: Lauren Moltz and John Clement for restoration of home in Rosalie Villas, Harper Avenue.

2016. Jean Block: John W. Boyer, The University of Chicago: A History.
Cornell- Judith Stein and Almarie Wagner of Hyde Park Jazz Society.
Despres Preservation: Theaster Gates and the Rebuild Foundation.


2012 Jean Block Book Award

Richard A. Courage for The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950, c2011, Rutgers University Press.

Summary: One of the purposes of HPHS is to educate and involve individuals and groups in an appreciation and understanding of Hyde Park’s heritage. The book is a highly informative and accessible examination of the African American cultural phenomenon that occurred in Chicago’s South Side in the mid-20th Century. Part of the original Hyde Park Township, Bronzeville developed as it did partly due to restrictive covenants in force during this period in the nearby Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods. The Muse in Bronzeville is a scholarly and meticulously documented work that deserves recognition by the HPHS.

Richard A. Courage is a professor of English at Westchester Community College/SUNY. He presented a well-received program to HPHS on March 17, 2012.

2012 Cornell Awards

• The Jackson Park Advisory Council, Louse McCurry, President, for the restoring of the Park’s natural areas, establishing a strong volunteer force, and resurrecting the natural area surrounding LaRabida Children’s Hospital.
• The Washington Park Conservancy, Madiem Kawa, President, for its commitment to the Pak’s natural history, its multitude of volunteer and outreach programs, and its promotion of Washington Park’s history.
• Stephen A. Treffman, HPHS Board Member Emeritus, long time HPHS archivist, and most recently, curator of the exhibit, “Matchbooks and Menus,” that celebrates the past century of Hyde Park’s commercial history.

2012 Despres Preservation Awards

• Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and ‘private owner’
- for the Exterior Restoration of 6 Residential Buildings in Pullman
o 11217-19 S St. Lawrence (private)
o 605 E. 107th
o 10701-05 S Cottage Grove
o 11710-14 S Champlain
o ‘seven rowhouses’
All 6 have received ‘Excellence’ Awards from the City. The first is privately owned and the others were completed by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a not-for-profit housing developer. These are good examples of the preservation of historic buildings in a portion of Hyde Park Township outside of the Hyde Park neighborhood.

• The University of Chicago and SaveWoodlawnAvenueNow [Woodlawn Homeowners Association]
- for the Creation of Planned Development 43 on the 5700 block of Woodlawn Avenue
This amendment to the existing zoning structure is a good example of cooperation between community residents and a large institution in the interests of protecting historic residential buildings on a historic street.

2011 Awards as announced in the Herald. They were awarded at the February 26 Annual Meeting

Block Award- To Rebecca Janowitz for "Culture of Opportunity: Obama's Chicago, The People, Politics and Ideas of Hyde Park."

Paul Cornell Awards-Hyde Park Herald -- Paul and Alex Sagan-- for digitalizing the Herald archive online.

Staff of the Special Collections Research Center of Regenstein Library for reorganizing the Society's collection an developing an online finding tool.

Marian and Leon Despres Awards- renovation of Ralph Rapson's Gidwitz House (1947) in the Kenwood Landmark District.

The 2011 Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award

to: Leon and Rian Walker, owners

for: the Historic Rehabilitation of the Willard Gidwitz House

4912 S. Woodlawn
built 1947
Ralph Rapson, architect

The Preservation Committee of the Hyde Park Historical Society appreciates receiving suggestions from any member of the public about potential recipients of the 2012 Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award. This award is given annually to individuals, institutions or organizations for outstanding achievements in the preservation of Hyde Park's architectural heritage. The award will be presented at the Society's Annual Meeting in February, 2012. Any project or building within the bounds of Hyde Park Township -- State Street to Lake Michigan, 35th Street to 139th Street -- is eligible for consideration. Please contact Jack Spicer with your suggestions before November 15 --

Marian & Leon Despres Preservation Awards

Marian & Leon Despres
-- for their leadership in establishing the Chicago architectural preservation movement

The Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church
The Coalition to Save the Met
-- for saving the historic Metropolitan Community Church building

The University of Chicago
The Save I-House Committee
-- for saving and rehabilitating the historic International House building

-- for rehabilitating the historic South Side Savings and Loan building

The Kenwood Open House Committee
The South East Chicago Commission
The Commission on Chicago Landmarks
-- for establishing the Kenwood Landmark District in 1979

The Medical Center of the University of Chicago
-- for the preservation of the American School of Correspondence building and for the restoration of its lobby and front elevation

Danny Aucunas
-- for the restoration of the Vierling House, 4914 S. Greenwood

University of Chicago Law School
-- for the rehabilitation of the Laird Bell Law School Quadrangle

Lisa and Nate Eimer
-- for the restoration of the Frankenthal House, 4825 S. Woodlawn

Chicago Public Library
PARMA Conservation
--for the conservation and restoration of the historic murals at the Chicago Public Library Blackstone Branch

Stacy Stewart
Ishmael Smith
Bryanna Stalling
--for advocacy of the Carl Hansberry House as a Chicago Landmark

Leon and Rian Walker
-- for the historic rehabilitation of the Willard Gidwitz House, 4912 S. Woodlawn, Ralph Rapson, architect, 1947

2012 Honorees Tim Black, Paul Durica (Cornell), Pauline and James Montomery and Victoria Ranney (Despres).

2010 Despres winners: For the conservation and restoration of the historic murals at the Chicago Public Library Blackstone Branch: Chicago Public Library and PARMA Conservation; For advocacy of the Carl Hansberry House as a Chicago Landmark: Stacy Stewart, CPS teacher, Ishamile Smith and Bryanna Stalling, CPS students and Chicago Metro History Fair participants.
Cornell winners: Caroline Cracraft for chronicling the life and times of Leon and Marian Despres, and the Chicago Metro History Education Center for its dedication to improving young people's interest in the history of the South Side.

HPHS awarded 2006 History Fair winners. Details, and other entries on Hyde Park Town issues, see the History Fair page. One remains on display through August: that on Bill Veeck by Anatoly Karoll of Lincolnshire's Stevenson High. The Society also has a CD copy of the video on integration efforts at CHA Trumbull Gardens in the 1950s.

In 2005 the Hyde Park Historical Society established an annual Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award. The first year's award was given to Mr. and Mrs. Despres themselves at the February Annual Meeting, in honor of their preservation accomplishments, including their pioneering efforts to save the Robie House and the Glessner House. In following years the Despres award will be given to persons and projects that honor their tradition and spirit through preservation projects and support. See description of 2005 Cornell Awards and of the preservation work of the Despres, below.

2009 awards announced

As in January 14 Herald. By Crystal Fencke

The Hyde Park Historical Society will honor recipients of the Paul Cornell Awards and the Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Awards at its annual dinner on Feb. 21.

The cornell Awards, named for Hyde Park founder, Paul Cornell, are given to individuals who exemplify the Society's values. One of the three winners is Joshua Cohen for his work as an educator and historian, including coordination work in the Chicago Metro History Fair, which toured Hyde Park last May as "Hike for History." The entire Cornell family will be honored for the restoration for the Paul Cornell Monument in Oak Woods Cemetery. And Sam Guard, engineer and architectural historian, will be awarded for his overall contributions to raising the consciousness within the community about its architectural heritage. In Spring 2008, Guard presented a very well-attended lecture at the Chicago Cultural Center about Alfonso Iannelli, the designer of St. Thomas the Apostle Church at 55th and Woodlawn Ave.

Two Despres Awards, named for preservation activists Marian and Leon Despres and given to institutions will be presented. The Law School of the University of Chicago, 1111 E. 60th St., will be honored for the rehabilitation of the Laird Bell Law School Quadrangle. Lisa and Nate Eimer will also win for the restoration of the Frankenthal House, 4825 S. Woodlawn Ave., designed by Hugh Garden and built in 1902.


For the Restoration of the Frankenthal House 4825 S. Woodlawn
built 1902
Hugh Garden (with Richard Schmidt), architect
restored 2008
Lisa and Nate Eimer, owners
Wheeler Kearns, architect
J&M Construction, contractor
South Chicago Workforce, contractor


For the Rehabilitation of the Laird Bell Law School Quadrangle 1111 E. 60th Street
built 1959
Eero Saarinen, architect
rehabilitated 1998-2008
University of Chicago Law School, Douglas Baird
OWP/P, architects
Berglund Construction, contractors

The 2010 Despres Preservation Award was given to Chicago Public Library and Parma Conservation for restoration of the dome and murals at Blackstone Branch Library and to advocates for landmark status for the Hansberry House.

In February 2008 the Hyde Park Historical Society announced the awards, given at its Annual Meeting February 23. Paul Cornell awards were granted to former 5th Ward Alderman Leon M. Despres, Esq., Dr. Larry Hawkins- youth programs founder and educator, and the Museum of Science and Industry on its 75th anniversary.
Despres Preservation awards were granted to the Vierling House in Kenwood (Dan Aucunas) and to the University of Chicago Medical Center for preservation for the American School of Correspondence.
A Jean Block Award, an occasional award for authors who produce notable books of nonfiction related to Hyde Park, was presented to scholar Peter Ascoli for his biography of his grandfather Julius Rosenwald.

Cornell Awards:


The Museum of Science and Industry penned 75 years ago with the dream of showing the ascent of technology and the effects of that technology on our society and culture. This ascent is created by by the fusion of science with industrial capability, and our Museum has mirrored this intermix with compelling displays that excite and awaken the mind. The Museum started with a dream and it is carrying out that dream to this day. For this, we wish to recognize its 75 years of influence on millions of visitors, our community, the nation, and the world.

LEON DESPRES Presented by Douglas Anderson

This award honors Leon M. Despres for the extraordinary service he has provided Hyde Park for more years than most residents can remember. His accomplishments would fill volumes, and include distinguished service as Fifth Ward Alderman, fighting racial injustice, and working with his wife, Marian, to preserve Chicago's architectural treasures. In his centenary year, he is truly a legend in his own time.

DR. LARRY HAWKINS Presented by Peter Vandervoort

As Director of the Office of Special Programs of the University of Chicago, Dr. Larry Hawkins has devoted forty years to providing young Chicagoans with opportunities for scholarship and success. He has created numerous programs for young people, including the Institute for Athletics and education, and the Pilot Enrichment Program (P.E.P.). By integrating athletics, parental involvement, an academic achievements he has developed one of the finest educational outreach programs in the country. Participants enroll in outstanding colleges and universities, and graduate to become leaders across Chicago and the nation. The accomplishments of these young people owe much to the vision and commitment of Dr. Larry Hawkins.

Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Awards. Presented by Jack Spicer


At the south east corner of Ellis Avenue and 57th street stands the University of Chicago's Hitchcock Hall designed by Dwight Perkins. At first glance it appears to be a typical grey, Gothic Revival campus dorm, but a closer look reveals a Prairie School masterpiece. where one would expect the obligatory Greek acanthus leaves carved in limestone, Perkins gives us American corn and squash blossoms. Gothic pointed windows become simple horizontal bands, and dreary corridors and dark common rooms are replaced by a sun drenched arcade and an octagonal lounge that may be one of the most beautiful rooms in Chicago.

Perkins' Robert Vierling House, designed for an iron and steel manufacturer, is even more remarkable. While riding in your carriage down Greenwood Avenue in 1898 the Vierling house would have seemed a predictable neighbor for the string of Classical-Gothic-Romanesques-Renaissance Revival houses lining the block. But the house is in disguise. Its simple windows, horizontal masonry lines, and low-pitched roofs carried by a lace of wrought iron are clues that this house is original and modern, a sophisticated and subtle version of the brand new Prairie school style. Its truly revolutionary structural system, entirely hidden from view, uses the construction techniques of an early Chicago skyscraper, like the Monadnock Building. With masonry walls and a steel interior skeleton there is no weight bearing structural wood in the entire building, as would be almost universal in residential buildings of this era. Even the subfloors and roof underlayment are mad of steel with a poured concrete topping, rather t han the typical wood sheathing.

When local developer Dan aucunas bought the Vierling House it had been long neglected. Yet, even after many years with a seriously leaking roof, there was no interior structural damage because of the modern steel framing system. In his careful restoration of the vierling House Mr. Aucunas has uncovered and shared with us a hidden masterpiece of early modern Chicago architecture. The Vierling House is in the Kenwood Landmark District and received a City of Chicago Preservation Excellence Award in 2007.


The American School of Correspondence Building is one of our very finest examples of the truly modern American architecture that was created here in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century.

In an age deeply concerned with social inequity, the American School of Correspondence worked to even the distribution of wealth in the increasingly industrialized americn economy by extending the range of available technical education to those who were socially and geographically isolated. In 1907 the ASC moved to its newly-built headquarters in Hyde Park, a building remarkable for its blending of sophisticated craft work, direct expression of its structural engineering, and thoughtful consideration of the employees' comfort. Built with two colors of warm brick, in contrast to the colder limestone of the surrounding University of Chicago campus buildings, the masonry work is complex without being fussy. The solid entry tower and the strong vertical piers tell one that both the building and the educational institution are hard working and reliable. And the ample, but simple, windows give natural light for those inside reviewing student work.

The Pond brothers were as well respected as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright in the days when Chicago was swarming with passionate young architects eager to create a distinctively American modern architecture. Their respect for the construction crafts and love of traditional materials, combined with their progressive social commitments, made their work a modern architecture animated by a distinctly human spirit.

There are other nearby Pond & Pond buildings worthy of a visit -- the Chicago Landmark Frank R. Lillie House (5801 S. Kenwood), the ingenious 6-flat at 5516 S. woodlawn, and the Hull House Dining Hall (800 S. Halsted), the last remaining fragment of the complex of buildings the Pond brothers designed for their friend Jane Addams.

The American School building was designated a Chicago Landmark in April 1995. The University of Chicago Medical Center has preserved and restored an important and irreplaceable American building.

THE JEAN BLOCK AWARD presented by Devereux Bowly


Author of the biography Julius Rosenwald, a Hyde Park resident whose life and work had a profound and broad influence in areas of business, philanthropy, education, and housing.


2010 History Fair awards were granted to a diorama of portions of the Midway at the Columbian Exposition by students at Maine South and a documentary of Urban Renewal and neighborhood Change in Hyde Park by students at Lincoln Park High School.


The 2007 Despres awards were given to three entities responsible for creation of the Kenwood Historic District, which continues to set the tone: Kenwood Open House Committee (Margaret Goldstein, President, 2 early presidents receiving for her); South East Chicago Commission (Bob Mason accepting for Valerie Jarrett); Chicago Commission on Landmarks (David Mosena accepting)

In 2006, the Cornell Awards went to Abner Mikva and to Ancona School history teacher Cory Stutts. The Despres Awards went to Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, Shorebank at 47th and Cottage Grove, and International House.

Descriptions of the 2006 Cornell Awards:

....Mikva has devoted a full half-century to his community, state and nation. He has worked within the three branches of government for civil rights, ethics, fair employment and education. He currently serves as the senior director of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School. In partnership with his wife Zoe, Mikva established the Mikva Challenge, a program committed to civics education for students and teachers throughout Chicago. In recent years, the Mikva challenge has been expanded to include programs in public policy and leadership development.

....Stutts has the rare talent of touching the future while bringing the past to life. Every day, Stutts motivates her middle school students at Hyde Park's Ancona School to master material and create high quality work. She inspires them to look beyond the classroom walls to the historical richness of Hyde Park. Last spring, her students' projects at t he Society's History Fair were a high point of th year. She is a superb representative of her profession and her school's community.

Descriptions of the Despres Awards:

....The Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church, 4100 S. King Dr., was built in 1889 and designed by architect John T. Long. The Church was originally 41st St. Presbyterian, absorbed First Presbyterian (which in the 1920s was reconstituted and built anew in Woodlawn) and in the the '20s became Metropolitan Community Church. The building was once home of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, one of the earliest African-American labor unions. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke at the church. In 2001 th church faced demolition until residents and Christ Apostolic members created the Coalition to save the Met. Through the coalition, Christ Apostolic raised enough money to purchase the building and make it the congregation's new home. Today the church is led by the popular Chicago preacher, rev. Leon Finney J.

....International House, 1414 E. 59th St., was designed as a multi-cultural dormitory for the University of Chicago by the Holabird and Root architecture firm and completed in 1932. The Art Deco version of the university's Collegiate Gothic style building is one of the last U. of C. constructions before World War II. Nearly a decade ago, the International House needed extensive and costly repairs that made its future uncertain. But the Save I-House committee and the university eventually agreed it should be preserved.

....The South Side Trust and Savings Bank, 4651 S. cottage Grove Ave., was designed in the Classical Revival style by Albert A. Schwarz and opened in 1922. It long provided banking services to many local residents and businesses, including Chess Records. The building had been abandoned for nearly 10 years and threatened by demolition when owners Timothy and Everett Rand welcomed ShoreBank to the site last fall. Recently Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) moved her offices to the building's second floor. (Adding to announcement of this award, Ald. Preckwinkle especially noted the hard work of then-aide Rebecca Janowitz, who lobbied to make preservation of the building a prime objective of the alderman and then secured postponement in demolition court week after week after week until previous owners bowed out.)

In 2007, the Cornell Awards went to the Chicago Children's' Choir for helping to create, live and spread the Hyde Park ideals of an interracial community of high standards;
Northwestern University Press for publishing the local history books by Tim Black, Robert Blakely on Earl Dickerson, Leon Despres, Truman Gibson;
Mary Ryan Schlesinger for her project photo documenting c. 300 lost Hyde Park structures, now in Regenstein Special Collections. (Among accomplishments of the Society for 2006 are the deposit of Nancy Hays's photographic collection in Regenstein.)


In 2011 the Society again gave prize awards to outstanding projects related to Hyde Park in the Chicago Metro History Fair.



Report in the Tribune on the Geology Underfoot tour
(This wonderful tour by Prof. Raymond Wiggers had to be given twice!)


Tour leaves no stones unturned
In the "Geology Underfoot in Hyde Park" lecture and walking tour, one can find hints that indicate a turbulent natural history for the area--much of it underwater

By Jon Anderson
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 20, 2004

For the 30 people walking the leafy streets of Hyde Park, it was a time to think back. Like, maybe, 2 billion years?For geologist Ray Wiggers, leading the group along the railroad embankment near East 55th Street, it was time to whip out a vial of hydrochloric acid. "See if this fizzes," he said, spraying some of the liquid on the rocky wall.

It was, in a sense, a Hyde Park moment. Academic, with a splash of danger.

Along with peering at boulders carried south two millenniums or more ago by glaciers working their way down from eastern Canada, Sunday's outing--known formally as "Geology Underfoot in Hyde Park"--was a bit of a quiz on Know Your Rocks and What They Can Be Used For.

Included in the three-hour lecture and walking tour were thoughts on the nature of granite, marble, quartzite, sandstone and limestone.

Limestone, it turns out, is not what lines the railroad embankment. It didn't fizz, in reaction with the acid.

"If you want to be a geologist know-it-all, call it dolomite," [Now generally called "dolostone" to distinguish the rock from its characteristic mineral.] Wiggers said, briefly describing the work of the pioneering 18th Century French geologist Deodat Guy Silvain Trancrete Gratet de Dolomieu, for whom dolomite and the Dolomite Mountains in northeastern Italy are named.

Across the street, the University National Bank is clad in glazed terra cotta from local clay pits, not granite as it might seem from afar.

Several blocks away, the rock hounds paused outside 5490 South Shore Drive, using magnifying glasses to study reddish rocks bordering a flower bed.

"Quartzite," they were told, a stone so tough it was favored over marble by road building ancients, because it didn't wear into ruts.

"Hyde Parkers are, um, very busy. Very interested in their history," noted one tour member, Frances Vandervoort, a retired science teacher. "It's another way to see the world we're in," added Jill Riddell who, with her husband, recently won a preservation award for work on their Kenwood house.

"There is, in fact, very little topography in Chicago," Riddell added, noting the city's flatness. "It's minimalist, hard to detect."

Yet there are more than enough hints, if one knows where and how to look, to indicate a turbulent natural history, much of it underwater.

Lake Michigan, for example, was once 60 feet higher than its present level of 580 feet above sea level. That put about 20 feet of water above what is now O'Hare International Airport. In another era, levels were so low that one could walk a dozen miles east of Hyde Park and not get wet.

Before human hunters wiped them out, starting about 12,000 years ago, the area was alive with mastodons, giant sloths and relatives of the wooly mammoth. There were also many short-faced bears, "best seen from a great distance through powerful binoculars," said Wiggers, a lecturer at Lake Forest College whose book, "Geology Under Foot in Illinois" is described on his Web site, www.raymondwiggers.com.

Organized by the Hyde Park Historical Society, whose headquarters is in a former cable-car station at 5529 S. Lake Park Ave., the geological outing also focused attention on one of the society's major current causes, "Save The Point."

That refers to the society's efforts to beat back a city plan to restore the crumbling lakefront edges of Promontory Point, off 55th Street, using cement instead of replacing the existing limestone blocks. Cement, as geologist Wiggers put it diplomatically, "is less interesting, both geologically and aesthetically."

Collateral programs


Hyde Park History and monthly series in the Hyde Park Herald

View/watch for the monthly Hyde Park Herald features from the HPHS:
These are mostly now on view in the Society's website at www.hydeparkhistory.org/herald/

The summer, 2005 issue features life on the Greenwood house row (recently declared a landmark district) from after the World War through the 70s.

To read past HPHS Herald articles, use either www.hydeparkhistory.org/event.html or www.hydeparkhistory.org/herald/. The articles are in pdf and of course have no pictures. Much more is going on line-including recently donated material from George Anastaplo (at
http://hydeparkhistory.org/herald and http://hydeparkhistory.org/events

The following is just a sampler, as more articles are added in rapid succession.

New at http://hydeparkhistory.org/newsletter (try also with "s" on end)
--Complete list of all newsletter articles since 1976, compiled by Iris Frank
--80 Years in Hyde Park by Leon Despres
--On Cable Cars and Lunchrooms, Early Streetcars in Hyde Park by Stephen A. Treffman
--The IC's Commuter Newsletter by John G. Allen
--Promontory Point, 1937-1987 by John McDermott, Jr. (ed. Victoria Post Ranney)
--About Alfred Caldwell by Stephen A. Treffman
--Who was Jean Block by Stephan A. Treffman

New at http://hydeparkhistory.org/herald
--George Beadle's Farm on the Midway by Frances Vandervoort
--The Golden Lady of Jackson Park by Edward A. Campbell
--Harold Washington, Hyde Parker by Sue Purrington
--George Anastaplo's "Conversation" with essays on important local personalities by George Anastaplo
--Women in the Manhattan Project by Caroline Herzenberg

As follow up to Peter Nepstad's lecture at the Society, read his description of the history and ongoing distress of the Columbian Exposition Viking Ship in the March 26 Hyde Park Herald. Reproduced in Historic Jackson Park .


Society news, Archives, and requests for information

Paul A. Cornell, grandson of Hyde Park founder Paul Cornell, died at age 89 in Naples Fla. May 24, 2007. He was born in Chicago and held property in Hyde Park. He was an inventor, economist and businessman in oil shale, gold, manufacturing and technology, holding many patents. A WWII veteran, he ad his wife restored a historic Irish great house in County Waterford. He was a Knight of St. John of Jerusalem and a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. A service is planned for the burial site of the original Paul Cornell in Oak Woods Cemetary, 1035 E. 67th St. July 23 at 2:30 pm.

2010 Despres winners: For the conservation and restoration of the historic murals at the Chicago Public Library Blackstone Branch: Chicago Public Library and PARMA Conservation; For advocacy of the Carl Hansberry House as a Chicago Landmark: Stacy Stewart, CPS teacher, Ishamile Smith and Bryanna Stalling, CPS students and Chicago Metro History Fair participants.
Cornell winners: Caroline Cracraft for chronicling the life and times of Leon and Marian Despres, and the Chicago Metro History Education Center for its dedication to improving young people's interest in the history of the South Side.

Awards given, Quadrangle Club and Shaw highlighted at Society Annual Dinner Feb. 5 2007

At the most hugely-attended annual dinner in its history, four Paul Cornell awards and a special Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award were given.

The 2005 Cornell Awards were given for/to:

The first Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award was given to Marian and Leon Despres. Description is given below. The highlights of the dinner were "Len's" description of his wife's pioneer work in preservation (building upon her upbringing as daughter of famed architect Alfred Alschuler-another daughter of Alschuler is Alice Hayes founder of Ragsdale Art Colony in Lake Forest and now in Hyde Park), PhD from the University of Chicago and including publication of several books on preservation) and his reading from his soon-to-be-published book, Challenging the Daley Machine, A Chicago Alderman's Memoir. Read were excerpts on his first day baptism in the Council, his work for preservation, and Mike Royko's introduction of Despres, used as the book's forward.

Between the Cornell and Despres awards presentations, Paul Myers of the Howard Van Doren Shaw Society discussed the career and importance of Shaw and need to preserve his structures. (Shaw's Quadrangle Club, 1921, is under restoration as part of the Club's centennial.)

Carol Bradford, President, reported on the Society's considerable activities and progress and acknowledged active Society members.

Formal award description, Despres Preservation Award. See a different description in History and Preservation home.

It is a great honor for the Hyde Park Historical Society to give its first annual Preservation Award to Marian and Leon Despres. For more than fifty years they have nurtured the movement to save our city's architectural heritage. In a real sense they are the parents of preservation in Chicago.

In 1957 Len, newly elected alderman from the 5th Ward, adopted Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House [that] sat unwanted and threatened by its legal guardian. This successful effort to save "America's first modern house" gave birth to the City Landmarks Commission which then chose 39 buildings as "honorary" landmarks. That body grew up to become the present Commission on Chicago Landmarks which was empowered by Despres' 1968 city ordinance to select and protect 12 important buildings as our first official Chicago Landmarks. Three of those original designations were in Hyde Park. In 1960 Mr. Despres and friends formed the Chicago Heritage Committee and walked the picket lines to defend Louis Sullivan's Garrick Theater, threatened to be demolished for a parking garage. This vigil, and a similar one to save Sullivan's Chicago Stock Exchange in 1972, could not prevent the loss of these two important members of our architectural community. But even those failed efforts strengthened the growing preservation movement by leading to the birth of organizations like the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois and by raising a new public consciousness of the value and worldwide fame of Chicago's "outdoor museum" of historic buildings.

In 1965 Marian Despres and a small group of friends bought and began to nurse back to health the long-neglected Glesner House. Under Marian's caret he house as become a remarkable museum, the only H.H. Richardson house in the country open to the public, and the anchor of the Prairie Avenue Historic District. From her efforts at the Glessner House grew the Chicago Architecture Foundation with its world famous docent program. She served on the CAF Board from 1970 to 1975 and as its President in 1976 and 1977. Marian also served on the Landmarks Commission form 1983 until 2003, where she inspired the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, the comprehensive inventory of Chicago's historical and architecturally significant resources--the most complete listing ever compiled by a major city in this country. Both of the Despres were active in the formation of the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference where Marian created the "Segments of the Past" project documenting 866 buildings that were demolished during Urban Renewal.

Beyond saving buildings, passing laws and forming organizations, Marian and Len Despres have fostered a strong, vigorous preservation movement in Chicago. They've helped raise an extended family of preservationists that will survive and grow for many generations to come.



Despres couple to be awarded

Hyde Park Herald, January 26, 2005. By Mike Stevens

The Hyde Park Historical Society will honor former 5th Ward Alderman Leon "Len" Despres and is wife Marian on Feb. 5 with a new preservation award named for the couple. In recognition for the[ir] pioneering efforts to preserve Chicago's historic buildings, the [two] will receive the first Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award at the society's annual meeting and dinner.

best known for their effort to save Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, 4747 S. Woodlawn Ave., and Henry Hobson Richardson's Glessner House at 1800 S. Prairie ave., the Despres also helped raise overall awareness of Chicago's architectural heritage, society member devereux Bowly said.

"I think it's fair to say they are the parents of preservation in Chicago," Bowly said. "During the time I am familiar with Chicago they were always at the center of things."

Their respective families instilled an early appreciation for great historic buildings for both, Leon Despres said. As the daughter of K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Temple Alfred S. alschuler, Marian always had an interest in architecture, Despres sid. For his part, Despres credited a two-year sojourn to Europe as a teenager. "[In Europe,] I became deeply impressed with the examples of architecture an the preservation of them," he said. "Our background gave us the interest; [and] events carried us into it and we became committed to [preservation]."

The events began when Despres joined the fight to save Robie House in 1957. In the years following, Despres, then serving as 5th Ward alderman, introduced to the city council what eventually became the city's first landmark ordinance.

Meanwhile, Urban Renewal issues captured Marian's attention in her regular column in the Herald as well as a photo book of Hyde Park architecture called "Segments of the Past."

After buying the threatened Glessner House with a group of friends and architects, Marian organized tours given by volunteer guides or docents. This docent program eventually became the Chicago Architecture Foundation. "It wasn't the first program of its type, but it early on became the biggest," said Bowly, who was among the first volunteer docents. "People literally come from all over the world to study it." Marian went on to serve on the Chicago Landmarks Commission for several years.

At the society's dinner, Leon Despres will be reading from his forthcoming memoir "Challenging the Daley Machine: A Chicago Alderman's Memoir," which Northwestern University Press will publish in May. The evening will also include tours of the ongoing restoration at the historic Quadrangle Club, 1155 E. 57th st.

During his acceptance of the first Despres Preservation Award, Leon Despres said he would like to have a copy of Marian Despres' book on salvage efforts and documentation of 866 structures take down during Hyde Park Urban Renewal, Segments of the Past. Needless to say, any additional copies found beyond one for Marian and Leon would be welcomed, in order, by the Hyde Park Historical Society, Regenstein Library Special Collections at the University of Chicago, and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (latter to borrow only).

The Archives are a major part of the work of the Hyde Park Historical Society. The large records of the Society are in Regenstein Special Collections, University of Chicago Libraries and are open. Most ned funds for full cataloguing and future digitalizing. Recent very large additions are: Nancy Hays Collection, Documentation Projects- Hyde Park Urban Renewal Townhouses, Lost buildings of Hyde Park, and Central Hyde Park, and Records of the Hyde Park Cooperative Society. Information on using the Special Collections Research Center is available at http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/spcl/. For more information on the Co-op collection contact Michal Safar, HPHS Archivist, msafar@ameritech.net. In November 2008 arrangements were being entered into for indexing and digitalizing on line the non-Hays HPHS collection by/at Special Collections; the Society has appropriated some funds and will undertake major fundraising for their share of the costs.

Michael Safar writes July 2010:

I am very happy to announce that our year long project with Special Collections Research Center is complete. The publicly available material in the collection has increased from the original 30 boxes, collected and organized by our original Archivist, Jean Block, to 179 boxes. The added material was largely collected by Emeritus Archivist Steve Treffman and is now organized into a detailed 92 page finding tool, which is available on-line and 100% searchable. In addition, the collection of 119 boxes of materials from the Hyde Park Cooperative Society has been organized with a separate finding tool, also available on line. Finally, the Hyde Park Kenwood Razed Buildings collection finding tool has been revised to include street names and numbers. Maija Anderson, the archivist at SCRC in charge of the project has done an outstanding job. She and the entire Archives staff at SCRC should be recognized for their contributions to the HPHS Archives.

Those interested in exploring the archives will find a wealth of fascinating material related to Hyde Park. Follow the links below to access the finding tools.

Main Collection


Hyde Park Cooperative Society


Hyde Park Kenwood Razed Buildings


Special Collections Research Center, which houses the Hyde Park Historical Society Archives, is open to the public. Information about accessing the collections is available at:



Here is letter by HPHS Archivist Michel Safar to the Hyde Park Herald, March 26, 2008

Prior to its closing on January 20, 2008, the Hyde Park Cooperative Society donated a substantial number of records to the Hyde Park Historical Society. The materials that have been preserved include the contents of the Co-op Library dedicated to Leon Despres, over 50 years of Board meeting minutes, Evergreens from 1951, photographs, and annual reports, among other things. The materials donated by the Co-op to HPHS are located at the Special Collections Research Center of the Joseph Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, and are available to the public. Information on using the Special Collections Research Center is available at http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/spcl/. For more information on the Co-op collection contact Michal Safar, HPHS Archivist, msafar@ameritech.net.

Preservation Committee

Among the activities of the committee is hosting or facilitating small meetings on a main landmark district for the area east of the University and smaller pockets. (See Landmark District page.) After feelers were made, Ald. Hairston and others initiated small area meetings for residents with the Comm. on Landmarks.

August 13 the first meeting was held, for 25 residents of the 5500 blocks of University and Woodlawn Avenues. Brian Goeken presented for the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and Dept. of Planning, Sue Purrington represented Ald. Hairston, and Laura Gruen the University, whose Alumni House would be in the district. Goeken answered general questions and reassured about the sympathetic approach of the Commission to residents' needs.

Meanwhile, residents of Maher houses on Cornell and Hyde Park 5500 blocks are assessing owners of similar houses concerning a small district and may be calling a small meeting. Erin Mihelich, one of the owners, is pursuing this question.

The Committee also promotes preservation through surveys and attention-getting studies of structures that are not generally on the public radar. They nominated 10 of these to the Commission in June 2005). For example, Leslie Hudson has prepared a Young Building (former Home for Incurables, 5555 S. Ellis) alternate reuse concept plan for Smart Museum and Court Theater, which have been considering demolition for expansion after University Police move to Drexel and 61st.

Anne Stephenson (who will be giving a class on Washington Park in September), has been surveying structures modernist or under 40 years old for preservation or remembrance, such as the physics buildings targeted for demo by the University.

Beth Johnson has prepared a reuse study for Drs Hospital, 5800 Stony Island.

Concerns have been looked at by committee members re: Midway Studios and proposed teardown of the houses now covered in the vacating Vivekananda Vedanta Society in the 5400 block of Hyde Park Blvd/


Preservation Committee Seeking information....and help!

Inventory project Oct. 31 communications, Herald article. Sun-Times coverage below. Pictures of what was found (and also pics of documentary photos of the houses demolished for UC Hospitals in November in the 5700 Drexel block): www.metroblossom.com/historical

This week's editorial in the Hyde Park Herald is a terrific tribute to the Society's preservation efforts. It is copied below. However, since then it was pointed out that this was one of several monuments to a soldier's valor in the war, with a flagpole and flag. In this case, the building's janitor to honor his son, killed in WWII.

From the Hyde Park Herald, October 13, 2004
"There are many ways to record history. Textbooks store facts and interpretations of moments in time. Storytellers pass an oral account of an event to each succeeding, generation. Newspapers serve to record the events, issues and experiences of a community and its inhabitants.

"The Hyde Park Historical Society is encouraging another way to record history. It requires a notepad, a camera and a map. Last week the Herald received the photograph above showing a damaged concrete "V" curb structure on Blackstone Avenue, which would have been discarded by a city work crew had a neighbor not stepped in to save it. The work crew was repaving a nearby sidewalk and broke off parts of the structure, not knowing the "V" was significant for "Victory," as in the thousands of Victory Gardens planted throughout the United States during World War II.

"At one time, Hyde Park was home to a handful of Victory Gardens, which were planted to grow produce for American troops abroad. The Blackstone Avenue "V" is the neighborhood's only remnant of the gardens. The Hyde Park Historical Society rushed to put the broken structure back together.

"The near miss resulted in a effort between the historical society and the 5th Ward alderman's office to compile an inventory of historically significant structures in Hyde Park and Kenwood as a protective measure. So far volunteers have found a cast iron hitching post and limestone carriage step in the 4800 block of South Woodlawn Avenue, a World War II plaque in the 5400 block of South Shore Drive and an old-fashioned slate sidewalk in the 4700 block of South Kimbark Avenue.

"The list continues to grow as volunteers photograph, record and map out any structure of historical significance in the area. Residents are encouraged to participate and can direct their findings to the historical society.

"The inventory is a complement to a neighborhood that more often than not values its past."



The Society, under leadership of Fran Vandervoort, is seeking information about our local geological and ecosystem history, topography and hydrology before it was developed for housing, commercial, and institutional. Evidence includes remains of dunes, streams, and wetlands., high water tables, seepage, [structural collapse/cave-ins from streams canalized underground--that has happened here!], tell-tale techniques or vegetation specific to continual or seasonal heavy wetness or very sandy or clayish conditions. Black oak and willow stands indicate sandy wetlands, for example. Contact the Society as below or Frances Vandervoort, 773 752-8374, vandersand@sbcglobal.net. Fran is especially seeking a copy of John Boyd's 1853 horseback survey commissioned by Paul Cornell in 1853.

The Preservation Committee and Hyde Park Garden Fair (Bam Postell) are starting a project to identify and document the Great Trees of Hyde Park and Kenwood.

The Historical Society has formed a new Education Committee. Starting project is school history fairs leading to the big History Fair. For information call Jay Mulberry, 773 288-1242.

The Hyde Park Historical Society's Preservation Committee asks information about structures: 1) demolished in the past 10 years, 2) saved in the last 10 years, 3) endangered structures. Purpose is to seek grants for a survey registry. Information may be passed on to Jack Spicer. The committee prepared and the Society sent a letter to Cardinal George concerning preservation of St. Gelasius (St. Clara) church. The committee photo documents structures to be demolished.

Members of the committee are working with archives and other sources to recover images and information about lost Hyde Park structures, and identify for record and preservation a wide range of the built environment, including even slate sidewalks and oak-brick alleys.


Sun-Times article on Fran Vandervoort's trees and sand project.

HPHS Board member Fran Vandervoort started looking at soil a long time ago. More recently she started to look at Hyde Park soil-- and Hyde Park gravel and Hyde Park stream beds and the woofs and whorls of what used to be the bed of the ancient Lake Chicago. Sometimes she and her team uncover parts of the saga of soil by plotting the location of our oldest trees which reflect soil types and the availability of water quicker than a chemist ever could. Fran and her team have a sense of soil.

Recognizing this, today's Sun-Times published a splendid article on their work. You can find it at http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-trees12.html, or read it below or see it in its glory complete with a colored picture of our HPHS soil detectives in the attached document.

Urban explorers trace Hyde Park history to the trees

November 12, 2004
The Chicago Sun-Times

BY GARY WISBY Environment Reporter

To hear Jack Spicer talk, you might almost think that oaks were folks.

"They had a city of their own going here before we showed up," he says. "They fed themselves and raised their children and expanded as they could. When we came along we built our city right around theirs -- sometimes literally."

Spicer stood underneath an example, a towering bur oak in the 4800 block of South Kenwood. When its roots started cracking the sidewalk, the homeowner had a new walk laid in a half-circle around the tree.

On a larger scale, Europeans who settled in the Chicago area built around oaks when they put down their own roots.

Above and below ground

To learn how trees and people shared and shaped the land in Hyde Park and Kenwood, Spicer and two other members of the Hyde Park Historical Society are mapping pre-settlement oaks in the two lakefront communities.

Spicer, a landscaper, and Shawn Kingzette, a certified arborist, are handling above-ground research. Frances Vandervoort, a retired science teacher, is in charge of the subterranean part.

They're mapping other kinds of trees too, but emphasizing oaks because many live so long, 300 years and more.

A bur oak on Wooded Isle, just south of the Museum of Science and Industry and in the study area, dated to perhaps 1730 and may have been Chicago's oldest tree. It blew down in a storm in July 2003. "Some of us are still wearing black armbands," Vandervoort said.

Like most of the Chicago area, these two South Side neighborhoods once were largely swamp -- long since drained and developed -- and prairie. Nineteenth century settlers gravitated to groves of bur oaks and black oaks seeking higher ground, as the oaks had, and also cover and protection.

Sandy subsoil

The oaks appear to have followed an old beach ridge or sand spit formed underwater when Lake Michigan was much higher than it is now. Running north and south along what is now Woodlawn Avenue, the ridge is about 10 feet higher than land on either side.

Vandervoort started the project in the summer of 2003 after a sewer line to her home needed replacing. "I began to wonder what was under there," she said. The answer: sand.

Three tree brochures will come out of the study. One will lay out a walking tour, another will focus on the University of Chicago campus and the third will look at the 220 trees of Madison Park, a private park north of 51st Street between Woodlawn and Dorchester avenues.

The work should be wrapped up by summer, Spicer and Kingzette agreed. But Vandervoort, who after all started the study, said, "I'm not sure it will end at any point."


Hyde Park Historical Society wins grant to study vintage, older homes in central Hyde Park

Hyde Park Herald, January 14, 2007. By Daniel J. Yovich

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is helping to fund research by the Hyde Park Historical Society, which is studying the neighborhood's earliest working-class homes. The project encompasses the inventory and documentation of wooden homes built in the late 19th century between 55th and 53rd streets along and near Woodlawn and [to] Harper avenues. These are some of the neighborhood's first working class homes, and include what might have been Hyde Park's last working farm, said Jack Spicer, the historical society's preservation committee [chairman].

"This is basically the oldest built-up section of Hyde Park," Spicer said. "Many houses of these types were lost during Urban Renewal, and our goal is to document those that remain, interview the residents that live in these homes, photograph the buildings and seek out any artifacts from the time they were built."

The National Trust provided $2,200 in start-up money for the project and the historical society is in the process of trying to raise the same amount in matching funds. So far the historical society has received $1,200 in donations and [is] seeking another $1,000.

Hyde Park real estate tycoon Paul Cornell founded Hyde Park in the the 1850s and the area underwent a dramatic transformation from a semi-rural and industrial area into an urbane village in the 1890s when John D. Rockefeller founded the University of Chicago and the World's Columbian Exposition was staged.

Carol Bradford, the president of the historical society, said those events drew what would become a burgeoning middle-class to the neighborhood. "The community was very much up an coming at t hat time," Bradford said. "And it underwent a housing boom."

It also meant the end of Hyde Park's working farms, though at least three farm houses from that period remain in the neighborhood, including one owned by Leaman and Pamela Ames at 5411 S. Ridgewood Ct. The couple bought their two-story wooden home in 1972 from a University of Chicago professor, who still heated the house with a coal furnace. It has a brick foundation, something the couple's home inspector said is a Chicago rarity. "These old farm houses have great deal of old charm," Pamela Ames said. "We like to joke to our friends that when we bought it, we had to bring the plumbing inside."

Spicer said the historical society hopes to have the study completed by September, when it plans to host a public presentation of it findings. The exhibit will include original building permits, Sanborn fire maps, early street photos and current photographs and written and videotaped stories from current homeowners.

Spicer said the historical society hopes to begin guided walking tours of the area in October and to host an exhibit of the project at the Hyde Park Historical Society building in November. In early 2007 [2008?], Spicer said all the material from from the project will be collected and presented to the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library as a study collection for researchers.



Please send nominations for the Cornell awards- individuals or organizations whose work exemplifies the values and objectives of teh organization-- to record Hyde Park village and township history, preserving Hyde Park artifactsf and documents, education, and promoting interest in Hyde Park history.

Get form from hydeparkhistory.org then call, request form from Fran Vandervoort, 773 752-8374 or email fv2335@gmail.com. Be sure to include your contact information and that of the nominee.