Posts tagged ‘historic preservation’

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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Our LAST Brick Street

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One hundred years ago, brick streets lined every neighborhood in Chicago Heights. They were the lifeblood of the city.

Today, though, only ONE brick street remains. After over 110 years in service, it is in disrepair and is under threat of removal, and replacement with asphalt, as the infrastructure below the bricks – not the bricks – is now failing. The street has endured many years of large and heavy truck traffic to, and from, the steel mill.

Many of us in Chicago Heights have fond memories of our most famous brick street, passing by Chicago Heights Steel and then turning to the south, venturing under the tracks and having it open and arriving in the Hill Neighborhood. It has served as a teaching moment and gives us a window to our past. Many communities do not have this rare resource.

As the city’s Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, we have been advising strongly (since 2012) for this important resource. Our idea is that a portion should be saved (perhaps as a thick crosswalk) and then part of the street (that is not currently brick) after the entrance to the steel mill, around a corner through a viaduct, should be reconstructed in brick. That area can be used as an interpretive spot to tell the story of over 100 years of steel production on the site, the many workers traveling along the road to the steel mill from The Hill neighborhood, as well as construction techniques through our history. We found a grant that could be applied to such a project, but no one has moved on this, and the deadline has passed. City officials have offered to “save the bricks for a future project”.

Brick streets are a historic treasure, but they also have many positive qualities:

*Brick streets last longer than asphalt streets, yet they do cost more to repair

*Brick streets naturally slow down traffic (good for safety around sharp bends, or neighborhoods)

*Brick streets are better at slowing down freeze/thaw jacking

*Brick streets offer better drainage than blacktop/concrete

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!

Dart Files

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So here are some pictures I took of the Dart designed church – with my old phone. I appologize for the not-so-crisp images.