THREATENED: After 22 year Effort to Save Promontory Point, 500+ Letters to Chicago Officials Urges Landmark Status (Chicago 7 2022)

“Promontory Point Conservancy has formally submitted a request to the Chicago Commission on Landmarks to designate Promontory Point as a Chicago city landmark. Included in their request is a report by preservation consultant Julia Bachrach detailing the historical significance of the Point, underscoring the need for landmark designation. They are joined in their call for preservation by Alderman Leslie Hairston, Cook County Commissioner William Lowry, State Representative Curtis Tarver, State Senator Robert Peters, and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, in a statement to the Hyde Park Herald in August 2022, endorsed a preservation approach to any future repair, restoration, and rehabilitation at Promontory Point. Other organizations in support of this request are Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Friends of the Parks, Openlands Chicago, Hyde Park Historical Society, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, Preservation Chicago, and others.

“The conservancy is requesting that this matter be heard at the next meeting of the Landmark Commission. The broader community is invited to send a letter to Landmark Commission member and Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox urging that this matter be heard and the point be protected as an historical landmark. A customizable letter can be accessed and sent through this link.

“Becoming a city landmark will help ensure that Promontory Point is protected against the city’s proposed plan to demolish the historic limestone revetment and replace it with a concrete barrier. Preservation Chicago placed the Point on its annual “7 Most Endangered” list for 2022 due to this looming threat. Promontory Point Conservancy has crafted a preservationist approach to repairing, restoring, and rehabilitating the revetment that includes two community-funded engineering studies that demonstrate this approach being both feasible and significantly cheaper than the city’s proposal. This preservationist plan enjoys widespread support from the community, including from the political representatives at all levels of government.” (Promontory Point Conservancy Op-ed, Hyde Park Herald, 11/28/22)

“Hyde Park residents have been fighting to save the limestone staired revetment wall at Promontory Point for more than 20 years.

“Now they’re angling to have the matter settled, if not necessarily once and for all, then at least for the foreseeable future.

“The Promontory Point Conservancy, in conjunction with Preservation Chicago, has submitted a preliminary landmark recommendation report to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. If the Point is ultimately declared a Chicago Landmark, it would be afforded greater protection from potential demolition or alteration.

“The conservancy is requesting to have the matter heard at the commission’s next meeting, which would kick start the landmark process.

“The conservancy has built a broad coalition of support for the Point’s landmark push, he said, from government officials — allies include local Ald. Leslie Hairston (who’s announced her retirement) and U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly — to the leaders of historic preservation and open space organizations.

“Renowned landscape architect Alfred Caldwell was instrumental in designing Promontory Point, which juts into the lake at roughly 55th Street. Its limestone revetment dates back to the 1930s, built as part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration program.

“When the Army Corps of Engineers began shoring up revetments elsewhere along Chicago’s lakefront in the early 2000s, the limestone rocks were ripped out and replaced with concrete. The Point was spared at the time thanks to vocal opposition from people who objected to what they saw as the loss of history, charm and aesthetics.

“But in 2021, after lakefront beaches and properties took a beating from high water levels and powerful storms, the Army Corps received funding to conduct a comprehensive study of Chicago’s shoreline, with a specific focus on the south end.

“Anticipating that the study’s results might favor concrete revetments at the Point, Preservation Chicago placed Promontory Point on its annual ‘7 Most Endangered’ list for 2022. (Wetli, WTTW Chicago, 11/28/22)


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