July 8, 2002

Landmark Preservation Council of Illinois names Point as endangered historial site

The Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (LPCI) has placed the Promontory Point on its Chicagoland Watch List. The places on this list are, "intended to be the focus of the organization's advocacy efforts in the Chicago metropolitan area during 2002-03," according to the organization's Web site, Two residences, 5707 and 5711 S. Woodlawn, are included in the preservation efforts.

The concern is due to the Chicago Park District's plan, developed by the Army Corps of Engineers, to replace the limestone seawall, which has deteriorated in some places, with a concrete and steel revetment. The Community Task Force for Promontory Point (CTF) proposes instead that the original limestone design be restored.

The Chicagoland Watch List includes 15 sites, ten in Chicago and five in the suburbs, which LPCI feels are historic treasures that are in need of preservation. This list augments its annual list of the ten most threatened historic places in Illinois. "Due to the increasing development pressures in the Chicago area, we felt there was a need this year to highlight additional locations," said David Bahlman, president of LCPI.

Jack Spicer, member of CTF's executive committee stated, "It's wonderful that various news articles are covering this." He mentioned that this would provide a boost to the effort to save the point.

In addition, it was announced at the Tuesday June 18 meeting of the Hyde Park Historical Society that contributions to the Save the Point fund have reached $40,000. the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation gave$20,000, which was combined with a matching grant of $5000. Community donations account for the other $15,000.

According to Spicer, the community donations have come from more than 222 individuals and more than 20 businesses. He said that this further indicates that there is widespread local support for the efforts to preserve the point, stating that the fund has reached this level of success because, "people really care about the point."

Much of the $40,000 has been spent on hiring a coastal engineer, Cyril Galvin, to study how to preserve the undamaged portions of the limestone revetment and how to reconstruct damaged segments. He will also do a cost comparison between the city's plan and the community plan.

Galvin completed three days of on site work at the point. On his first day he performed an aerial survey of the entire lakefront from a private airplane, during which he took extensive photographs. On that day he also spoke to the Hyde Park Historical Society's board. 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, who has supported efforts for preserving the limestone, was also present. For the next two days Galvin studied the structure of the Point as well as engineering documents provided by the Chicago Department of Environment.

Galvin has not come to his final conclusions, stated Spicer. He is expected complete his work in late August and then present his findings at a community meeting in September.

Some of the rest of the fund will be spent contracting a preservation architect to augment Galvin's efforts. Their responsibilities would include presenting Galvin's report to the public and meeting with task force members and bureaucrats to discuss the findings "The preservation architect will translate the report into terms that we can all understand," said Spicer.

A review of the community plan has been granted under the terms of section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, but it has not yet been scheduled.