Posts tagged ‘Chicago Heights Illinois’

Who The Heck ARE You Guys Anyway?

I guess this should have been our first blog post. But, since I was completely new to this blog-stuff, it just had not materialized. So, here it goes…

The Chicago Heights Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (CHHPAC) is a volunteer appointed city committee. The committee was established in 1996.

Our mission is to protect, serve, foster and perpetuate the distinctive Architectural and Historical qualities of Chicago Heights.  We accomplish our mission through overseeing the city’s landmark ordinance, educational programming, advising city officials as to the importance of Chicago Heights’ historic resources, and by encouraging sensitive treatment of landmark and vintage properties.

Rt. 30 & Schilling, now a local landmark

Rt. 30 & Schilling, now a local landmark

Landmarked properties have to abide by the city’s design guidelines, or guidelines set forth in the individual landmark designation. When there is proposed changes to these properties/sites, there is an added review of work to the exterior of the building/site that looks at materials and style appropriateness. We provide this review. The review safeguards the Landmark’s authenticity, and the owners investment.

The goal is help the city to preserve the historical and architectural integrity of Chicago Heights.

We are not a historical society, but we often fill that role when needed because Chicago Heights does not have one. However, the Chicago Heights Public Library also helps fill that role. They house a great deal of historic documents, photos, and items that a historic society would and have a great deal of information for those studying Chicago Heights History.

Historic preservation principles are not just for Landmark properties. Sensitive treatment and maintenance of your building will safeguard your investment. Not all beautiful “old” structures are Landmarks. They just have been lucky enough to have had stewards throughout its life who were as proud of it when it was 30 years old as when it was 100. (oh, man, I think that is a whole blog post in and of itself!)

For more information on who we are and what we do, please visit our website. There you will find information and links on proper treatment to your vintage – or landmark – property, the how and why your original windows are so important and even better than replacement windows, our list of local landmarks, applications for landmark status or our programs, and much more.

“Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build for ever.  Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them,
“See! this our fathers did for us.” For, indeed, the greatest glory of a building is not in its stones, or in its gold. Its glory is in its Age. ”
John Ruskin

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Then and Now

Currently on exhibit at the Union Street Gallery, our local art gallery (- you know, the awesome one in a restored Elk’s Lodge?), is our committee’s show “Chicago Heights Then & Now”.

It is a way for us to look back a celebrate just some of what wonderful buildings remain.

We scoured the library archives for “Thens” and set to the streets for our “Nows”.

Come to see the show!

It will be up through June 15, when the Driving the Dixie cars will be passing through. There was only so much room to display in our gallery space, but here is a taste.

dr longDr. Long nowMackler HighlandsMackler 2013

Guest Columnist Reflects on Black History Month

undergroundrailroad[1]193616Born and raised in Chicago Heights, I wanted to share a little, since black history
month is here. As a child I was able to visit Canada to see places and trails on the Underground Railroad.
My parents, both being African American, wanted me to see what African Americans had to
experience to achieve freedom. Recently, I have learned that the Underground Railroad was also
here in Chicago Heights.
The “Underground Railroad” became a major force leading to the
elimination of slavery. Runaway slaves called passengers, usually traveled to their
destinations by night either alone or in small groups. Whenever possible black and
white abolitionists provided food and shelter at stopping places known as “stations”
or served as “conductors” providing transportation between stations. The Underground Railroad remained active until the end of the Civil war as black bondsmen continued to use the system to flee the horrors of slavery.
The Bacheldor and McCoy homes in Thorn Grove, later Chicago Heights, were stops on the Underground
Railroad. When I found this information out, I became admirable of Chicago Heights.  How brave my ancestors were to
travel North, knowing that they might have had to travel this way for freedom.  It makes me realize how much America as changed since that time. I agree American still needs more growth change. But what I can say, I am glad to be an American. Land of the free and home of the brave.

Belinda James

Belinda James is a member of the Chicago Heights Historic Preservation Advisory Committee

A few notes: Sauk Trail is one of the early, highly traveled Native American trails used heavily between 1849 and 1853 by those traveling West for gold, to Iowa for land, or to Kansas or Canada to escape slavery. The Bacheldor farm was located at the intersection of what is now Sauk Trail and Western Avenues, the McCoy’s about a mile east near Thorn Creek. These families hid slaves from Missouri between Joliet and Dyer on their way to Canada. – Chicago Heights; At the Crossroads of the Nation by Dominic Candeloro & Barbara Paul800px-Undergroundrailroadsmall2

2012 in review

Hi All.  Happy 2013!

 As you may know, this blog was a way for us, the Chicago Heights Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (CHHPAC), to reach out a little further and share information and stories about Chicago Heights History. I think I can speak for our group when I say the committee is pleased at the progress we made here in 2012.  We’d like to send a “Thank YOU!!” to those who subscribe to our meager blog, to those who have found their way here one way or another, and those who have commented on our posts.

This blog got about 3100 views last year, the most popular posts being “Al Capone’s Tunnels”, “Bloomvale Cemetary”, and “Chicago Heights; The Crossroads of the Nation”. Visitors came from 45 different countries!

Many of us go about our days without looking around or thinking of our connection in this world. To me, when you stop and think about the stories linked to the places around you, things that happened years -or centuries – ago, it brings new light on your life today. A connection is made.

A couple of weeks ago, I read The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch. Mr. Potzsch’s inspiration to write the novel was because of his family’s genealogy research. He is a descendant of  a 17th century Bavarian hangmen family. The novel uses the real names of a few of those.  In the “Kind of Postscript” at the end of the book, Mr. Potzsch writes something about why genealogy has become “increasingly popular”.   He writes:

“Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that we are trying, in a world of increasing complexity, to create a simpler and more understandable place for ourselves… We feel increasingly estranged, replaceable, and ephemeral. Genealogy gives us a feeling of immortality. The individual dies; the family lives on.”

This made a lasting impression on me, for I think as much as it is true of genealogy, these words apply directly to the importance of history in general and historic preservation. Why it is important to save places. The people die, their places/architecture lives on.

So, therein lies why we come here to tell these stories and share these places with you. Why we enjoy the interaction that a blog affords. A connection is made.

We had a pretty good run in 2012, and I hope that in this new year we continue to bring you and the world (seriously, some of you are quite far from here!) a little taste why the history and architecture of Chicago Heights – and your little corner of the world – is so important.

Thank you.

Not sure where on the internet I found this one, probably Chuckman's Collection. Anyway, thank you to those I have borrowed from on the internet, too!

Not sure where on the internet I found this one, probably Chuckman’s Collection. Anyway, thank you to those I have borrowed from on the internet, too!

Driving the Dixie 2012

If you didn’t make it out to Chicago Heights for Driving the Dixie, you missed a wonderful event.

Over 300 people enjoyed the Gallery’s amazing art, our own Mike Bonhart’s fascinating display of Chicago Heights memorabilia, and all the cool CARS!

We gave away these great magnets to all that participated. –>

There was even a great display put up and staffed by the Park Forest Historical Society & Museum’s president, Michael Gans.  If you haven’t visited their museum, you really should get over there!  They also have an archive. Check out their website, and donate to keeping history alive.

Additionally, a hearty “Thank You” goes out to the Union Street Gallery for hosting the Driving the Dixie stop in Chicago Heights. It serves as a wonderful spot for people – many not from our area – to see what a wonderful art community we have, and some of our fantastic architecture. If you haven’t been to the Gallery yet, you really need to go, and go often. New shows are opening all the time. I see something new and wonderful each time I am there.

Call me crazy – you won’t be the first – but the  Elks Building/Union Street Gallery looked, well,  happy. If a building could smile, I think it was. Beautiful, used, cared for, and all the people enjoying it.  Well, it made me happy to see such a great building in its most recent incarnation so loved and vibrant.  And the Star building across the street made a nice backdrop for all the sweet rides that parked in front of it.

Check out some of the photos:

Bloomvale Cemetery

A little known landmark in the city is that of Bloomvale Cemetery. Never heard of it? You are not alone. Even if you have lived in Chicago Heights all of your life you may still not know of its existence. You might just know of the area as “the dump”. WHAT?!? There is no longer a cemetery there? Well, here is the story.

While its origins are unknown, Bloomvale Cemetery may have been in use years before Chicago Heights began issuing burial permits in January 1902. 339 burial permits later, the last was issued in February of 1912. (these can be found on findagrave.com or at the Chicago Heights Free Public Library) Many founding members of the city were buried there. A 1907 map of Chicago Heights shows a large plot along 28th street (no longer an actual street) across from Ludowici-Celadon Co., a terra-cotta and tile roofing company long gone. Also in the area was a brick company due to the rich clay deposits.

As years passed those who visited loved ones in Bloomvale Cemetery passed away as well, to be buried elsewhere, and it sort-of was forgotten. After the closing of the terra cotta and brick companies in that area, two landfills crept up there, originally beginning to fill the clay hole from the brick factory. Years passed, and the boundaries of the cemetery have gotten smaller. A current map of the area only shows the cemetery as a small patch along that side of the road, a fraction of its representation on the 1907 map.

Bloomvale’s size is quite large on this 1907 map

The Chicago Heights Historic Preservation Advisory Committee landmarked it in June of 2000. VERY little is known about our little cemetery encircled by landfills – and that brings me to our plea. If anyone has any recollections, pictures, information, etc about Bloomvale Cemetery, post it in the comments below or email us directly. When does a cemetery cease to be a cemetery? I say never, and it is time to reclaim it.

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**UPDATE**

SAVE THE DATE
Bloomvale Cemetery Clean-up Event Saturday June 7th 2014 10:00am – click link to sign up and for more information
http://midwestcemetery.weebly.com/bloomvale-cemetery.html
**However, if you have mobility issues, this is not the event for you. Once this work day is complete, subsequent work days will be available for you to be involved and see this site.

Driving the Dixie – Chicago Heights Stop

Saturday, June 18th
Many classic cars, ranging from Model A Ford’s to anything from the present, each year “Cruise the Dixie” (Highway) from Blue Island to Momence.
Stops are made along the way in several of the cities and everyone has a great time while celebrating a piece of history.
The stopping spot in Chicago Heights this year will be
The Union Street Gallery (1527 Otto Blvd.) An amazing adaptive reuse of a historic – local landmark – building!
Inside the gallery will be refreshments and an exhibit on historic Lincoln Highway – which paired with Dixie Highway gives Chicago Heights her nickname – Crossroads of the Nation.
ALL are welcome to come on by to see the cars come through and experience some Chicago Heights history inside our fantastic art gallery.
Gallery will be open from 9AM – 2PM
Cars come by approximately 10am-Noon

Cars at Chicago Heights's 2010 Driving the Dixie stop