THREATENED: After 23 Year Advocacy Effort, Preliminary Chicago Landmark Status for Promontory Point Depends on Park District’s Consent (Chicago 7 2022)

“WRITE A LETTER to the Chicago Park District Board to vote “YES” to Landmarking Promontory Point! Use this letter (or customize it) to urge the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners to vote for Promontory Point to become a full City-landmark. Becoming a legally recognized landmark in Chicago will help ensure that the Point’s limestone revetment is properly preserved, repaired and restored. The Park District’s Board of Commissioners meets February 15th, and we need the Commissioners’ consent to make Promontory Point a Chicago landmark.” (

“In the early 2000s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replaced much of Chicago’s shoreline barriers with concrete revetments to repair erosion caused by Lake Michigan. Because of an outcry by residents, Promontory Point is the only spot where the original limestone steps have been left in place.

“Residents have been fighting to save the steps ever since.

“‘I consider Promontory Point to be one of Chicago’s finest treasures,’ said Southeast Side Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza at a recent meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. ‘(Alfred) Caldwell’s work should be preserved and his intention was not a concrete platform, I can tell you.’

“Now, the long-standing dispute may finally be coming to an end.

“Last month, the landmarks commission took the first step toward preserving the point’s original design. Two weeks ago, the Army Corps of Engineers announced separate funding for Promontory Point that will allow the city, with public input, to develop a plan ‘to meet the goals of both reducing coastal storm damage while preserving the historic nature of the existing structure.’

“But residents remain distrustful.

“‘We’ve been at this with the Park District for 23 years so we tend to be a little skeptical about what they say,’ said Jack Spicer, director of the Promontory Point Conservancy community group. ‘When they say they’re going to utilize the limestone, that doesn’t mean that they’re committed to using the structure as it is. It could mean any number of things.'” (Maille, Chicago Tribune, 2/13/23)

“The first of several votes needed to secure city landmark status for the Point, the commission’s unanimous support for it at a Thursday, Jan. 12 hearing comes in the midst of a decades-long battle between preservationists and the city over what to do with the park’s limestone stair-step revetment.

“For more than 22 years community members have organized around preserving the Point’s limestone steps from both lakefront erosion and city-proposed demolition. In the past, the city has proposed replacing the park’s stone perimeter with concrete and steel, as has been done along the rest of Chicago’s lakeshore; these proposals have routinely been met with considerable pushback.

“Official landmark status is still pending a final commission vote and approval of the full City Council. If it passes, a landmark designation will require that any proposals by the city or Army Corps of Engineers to rehabilitate the Point’s revetment, field house and other historical features will first need to be approved by the commission.

“‘There was overwhelming support by the commissioners for preservation of the limestone revetment,’ said Promontory Point Conservancy President Jack Spicer after Thursday’s meeting. ‘Alderman Hairston (5th) was outstanding in her support for what the community wanted and she was very clear in her words to the Park District to not screw this up.’

“According to Kandalyn Hahn of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, a final landmark vote could occur by March or April, before the end of Hairston’s tenure on City Council. Meanwhile, a preliminary designation also means that all of the protections of landmark designation are in effect until this vote.

“The Promontory Point Conservancy, a nonprofit focused on preservation advocacy, grew out of community member’s Save the Point campaign in the early 2000s. Over the years the conservancy and other activists have made several unsuccessful bids for city landmark status.

“This time around, in the month leading up to Thursday’s hearing, community members sent the commission more than 400 letters urging committee members to grant landmark status, drawing considerable public and media attention.

“‘The motion carries unanimously,’ said commission chair Ernie Wong after Thursday’s vote (and some applause). ‘Folks, there you go — 22 years.'”(Monaghan and Pharo, Hyde Park Herald, 1/13/23)

Preservation Chicago applauds the Promontory Point Conservancy for their dedicated advocacy effort to ‘Save the Point”. Preservation Chicago has been working closely with the Promontory Point Conservancy to request to the Chicago Commission on Landmarks to designate Promontory Point as a Designated Chicago Landmark. Promontory Point Conservancy is responsible for the extensive report by preservation consultant Julia Bachrach detailing the historical significance of the Point which clearly established the need for Chicago Landmark designation. There has been strong support for saving the Point from elected officials including 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 issued a statement for the restoration of Promontory Point. In addition to Preservation Chicago, other organizations in support include Hyde Park Historical Society, Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Friends of the Parks, Openlands Chicago, and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.


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