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Rehabilitation and reuse of older and historic buildings can be expensive endeavors and requires planning by thoughtful owners and their consultants. Landmarks Illinois, the state’s leading voice for historic preservation, recognizes these challenges and has developed a series of matching grant programs designed to help local organizations preserve historic and significant places in communities throughout Illinois. Often, these small grants help spark community engagement around the preservation of a place and help boost local fundraising efforts for the project. Landmarks Illinois has three grant programs: Preservation Heritage Fund, Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund for Illinois, and Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side.

The Preservation Heritage Fund grant program provides funding to organizations across the state that are leading historic preservation projects of significant structures that are under threat of demolition; require stabilization, reuse or structural evaluation; or need to be evaluated for landmark eligibility. In December 2021, a total of $30,000 was awarded to 12 organizations working to preserve historic places. Grants ranged from $1,000 to $4,000; grants were made in widely dispersed communities throughout the state including Cairo, Washington, Freeport, Waterloo, and Chicago.

Three grants were made to Chicago organizations. Harmony International Development, Inc. was awarded $2,500 to replace the roof of a carriage house in the North Lawndale neighborhood. The carriage house will be used by Harmony International, a nonprofit social service provider, to house ex-offenders reentering the workforce and provide social work services and a computer library. PullmanArts received $1,000 to seal the concrete floor in the Block House Gallery, a community run art gallery where PullmanArts offers classes and highlights the work of artists living in the Pullman Artspace Lofts, an arts-based affordable housing development in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. Stone Temple Baptist Church, a former synagogue located on Douglas Boulevard in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood, received $4,000 to make repairs to floors and walls damaged by water infiltration. Each of these modest sized grants are very important to ongoing preservation efforts.

The Barbara C. and Thomas E. Donnelley II Preservation Fund for Illinois provides funding for planning activities and education efforts focused on preservation. In December, The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association in Oak Park was awarded $2,500 for architectural fees associated with the exterior column restoration at its Neo-Classical style building constructed in 1928.

The Timuel D. Black, Jr. Grant Fund for Chicago’s South Side provides small planning and capital grants to support organizations and people working to preserve history, culture, and architecture of Chicago’s South Side, where the late Mr. Black, acclaimed civil rights leader and historian, spent most of his life. In December, St. Basil Visitation Church, located on historic Garfield Boulevard in the Englewood neighborhood, received $2,500 to help in the restoration of 80 original stained-glass windows in the 1899 church.

Over the past five years, Landmarks Illinois has made 93 grants totaling $287,300. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. A 2017 study undertaken by Landmarks Illinois indicated that overall, every dollar of funds granted by it was matched by $16 from other organizations. That’s a total impact of nearly $4.6 million. Landmarks Illinois shows that modest-sized grants can have a significant impact on communities across the state.

Information about the grant guidelines and application deadlines can be found at Landmarks Illinois Grant Programs.

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